First Four: No. 16 Mount St. Mary’s vs. No. 16 New Orleans Prediction, Game Preview


Mount St. Mary’s vs. New Orleans prediction and game preview, as the No. 16 Mountaineers and No. 16 Privateers face off in the First Four of the NCAA Tournament.


It’ll be either Mount St. Mary’s or New Orleans taking on defending national champion Villanova in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Mountaineers (19-15) and Privateers (20-11) will face off in a First Four matchup in Dayton to decide who has the right to face the Wildcats, who earned the Tournament’s top overall seed.

Mount St. Mary’s vs. New Orleans Preview

Venue:  UD Arena, Dayton, Ohio
Region:
East

Mount St. Mary’s Strengths

The most dangerous mid- and low-majors come NCAA Tournament time are those with no fear, and Mount St. Mary’s certainly qualifies. The Mountaineers played their first nine games away from home and faced the likes of West Virginia, Iowa State, Minnesota, Michigan and Arkansas during a 1-11 start. They took those lumps and are now 19-15 and headed to the Big Dance. Elijah Long and Junior Robinson can heat up at a moment’s notice and will have Mount St. Mary’s blitzing its opponent from the opening tip.

Mount St. Mary’s Weaknesses

The Mountaineers got crushed on the boards all season. Of the 347 Division I teams, they finished in a tie for 342nd with a minus-7.4 rebound differential per game. That’s likely not going to change in the Tournament, so knocking down their shots becomes of even more importance if they hope to pull off an upset.

Mount St. Mary’s In-Depth Analysis

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New Orleans Strengths

Mark Slessinger’s Privateers won the Southland tournament title behind the play of conference player of the year Erik Thomas, who averaged 19.7 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. He’s an undersized power forward who had 14 points and 11 boards in the conference title game. This has been a wonderful season for a university that nearly dropped the men’s basketball program from Division I to Division III due to financial hardships following Hurricane Katrina. It’s a tight-knit squad that knows it will have its supporters rooting hard for the team.

New Orleans Weaknesses

Turnovers have been a major issue all season for New Orleans. The Privateers average just less than 17 turnovers per contest. Only two teams in the nation turned the ball over more often. Defense is an issue as well. Oklahoma State scored 117 against New Orleans, while Northwestern beat the Privateers by 34. Turnovers combined with subpar defense is a recipe for disaster in The Dance.

New Orleans In-Depth Analysis

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Mount St. Mary’s vs. New Orleans By The Numbers

Mount St. Mary’s Statistics

Scoring Margin: Minus-6 (213th in the nation)
Rebounding Margin: Minus-7.4 (342)
Turnover Margin: 1.5 (84)
3-Point FG Percentage: 35.7 (143)

New Orleans Statistics

Scoring Margin: 3.8 (112)
Rebounding Margin: 3.9 (63)
Turnover Margin: minus-0.5 (210)
3-Point FG Percentage: 32.2 (294)

The Mountaineers jump on top early and and hold on throughout to earn a date with Villanova in the first round.

Mount St. Mary’s vs. New Orleans Score Prediction: Mount St. Mary’s 64, New Orleans 60

MORE: Complete NCAA Tournament Bracket, Previews, Predictions