Under the Radar Game of the Day: Grand Canyon at Saint Mary’s, 10:00 PM Eastern, campusinsiders.com
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The Saint Mary’s Gaels broke into the Top 25 in the Coaches’ Poll this week, but that doesn’t prevent me from still choosing this game as the UTR Game of the Day. After all, we have had this game circled on our calendars for months now as the last regular season non-conference game and the final chance for the Grand Canyon Antelopes to prove themselves and the case for the #LopesWaiver. (For more information on that, click here). Grand Canyon enters the game tonight at 24-5 overall and tied for second place in the WAC at 10-3. Their RPI entering play tonight is 98, and with only tonight’s game and their regular season finale Saturday at Utah Valley left, a win tonight is almost a must if they want to become the first transitional team to ever finish in the top 100 of the RPI. The ‘Lopes are led by Grandy Glaze who now has a dozen double-doubles on the season. If Glaze and his teammates can get the win tonight, they will once again send the message to the college basketball world that they deserve a chance at winning an automatic bid in the WAC tournament, and could at the same time end St. Mary’s dreams of an at-large bid.
The St. Mary’s Gaels did something this season that they had not done since 1995 — sweep the regular season series with Gonzaga. As a result of the sweep, the Gaels are the top seed in the West Coast Conference tournament and will begin play Saturday night when they take on the winner of Friday night’s 8/9 game between Loyola Marymount and San Diego. The Gaels have an RPI of 47 entering play tonight, which combined with a first place finish in their conference and a 24-4 overall record will get them some serious discussion in the committee room if they fail to capture the automatic bid. The Gaels have a balanced scoring attack including the likes of Emmett Naar, Dane Pineau and Joe Rahon. Calvin Hermanson led the way last time out with 24 points against San Francisco, and Evan Fitzner led the way in their earlier home win over Gonzaga with 20. The scariest part of the Gaels roster is that it does not have a single senior on it — meaning that next year they should be even better, though hopefully that also means that they will schedule more aggressively. If the Gaels do not get the WCC automatic bid this year and miss the field, they really can only blame themselves for only playing one non-conference game away from McKeon Pavilion.