East Region: Yale vs LSU Prediction
Yale vs LSU Preview
The LSU Tigers earned a 3-seed in the East Region and will first play 14-seed Yale in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Tigers and the Bulldogs will face off Thursday in Jacksonville, Florida. The winner of the game will face the winner of 6 seed Maryland vs. the winner of the 11-seed play-in game between Belmont and Temple.
Get to know Yale
Yale beat Ivy League rival Harvard, 97-85, to make it to the NCAA Tournament.
Junior shooting guard Miye Oni could be the first Ivy League player drafted into the NBA since 1995, according to Forbes. Oni (17.6 ppg, 6.4 apg) is projected as a No. 47 draft pick. The Spurs, Jazz and Pelicans are especially interested in Oni, a coach told Forbes.
The Bulldogs coaching staff is very familiar with Tigers star sophomore Tremont Waters, who grew up near the Yale campus and has been a regular attendee at head coach James Jones‘ basketball camps since he was in the 8th grade:
“We recruited him pretty hard,” said Yale coach James Jones. “He’s been at my elite camp since he was in eighth grade. Love the kid. I’ve watched LSU play a lot the last few weekends. They’re really good. Naz (Reid) is good around the basket.”
Added junior guard and leading scorer Miye Oni: “It should be a good game. We thought that was one of the teams we had a chance to play. We’ll watch film and be prepared.”
Yale is a high-scoring team averaging 81.1 points per game while giving up 77 per night.
Get to know LSU
LSU is in the crosshairs of the NCAA and the FBI due to alleged recruiting violations by head coach Will Wade, who has been suspended by the school since March 8. Wade allegedly has been caught on an FBI wiretap talking about making payments to recruit Javonte Smart, currently a freshman for the Tigers. Smart was also suspended, but has since been re-instated.
LSU is 25-6 and won its first SEC regular-season title since 2009 with a 16-2 record. The Tigers lost to Florida in their first SEC tournament game on Friday.
Interim head coach Tony Benford knows Yale will present the Tigers a fair share of challenges:
“The obviously won the Ivy League. They’ve had a lot of success – two years ago they beat Baylor in the NCAA Tournament. Coach Jones does a good. Job. They’ve recruited well there. He has one kid, (No. 25 Miye Oni), he’s a NBA prospect about 6-6, scoring wing who’s a really good player. They have four guys, I think, averaging double figures. Another kid that averages almost nine a game. They play up-tempo. They really push the ball. They really want to get in the open court and they do a really good job. I haven’t had a chance to watch film. I watched a little of their game briefly today when they played Harvard. We’re going to break them down. Coach (Greg) Heiar is already watching film on them. We’re on top of them right now.”
He know’s Yale’s style of play is difficult to defend against:
“They’re a veteran team. They are a very experienced team. Sometimes it’s tough to change the way you want to play. They may make an adjustment. If you’re averaging over 80 points a game it’s tough to tell your kid, ‘hey let’s keep it in the 60s.’ That’s pretty tough. We’ll be prepare for whichever way they want to play. We’re focused on us. Tomorrow we’ll practice. We’ll get the kids prepared, we’ll scout Yale and we’ll have our guys prepared for them on Thursday.”
Tremont Waters- 15.1 points, 5.9 assists, 3.0 steals per game.
Naz Reid– 13.7 points, 7.2 rebounds per game in only 26 minutes a night.
Waters will be the one who steals most of his headlines–he can score at will, is lightning quick with the basketball and plays an aggressive style of defense evidenced by his three steals per game.
Miye Oni- 17.6 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.3 blocks per game.
Jordan Bruner– 10.2 points, 8.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.7 blocks per game.
The Bulldogs will go as far as Oni will take them–but Bruner will need to have a big game against the Tigers front court in order to pull off the epic upset.
LINE: -8 LSU
Dan’s Bet: +8 Yale
Bracket Pick: LSU
I expect LSU to win outright, but Yale will cover the spread with eight points. The Tigers missing their head coach is a big deal that will hurt the Tigers as they continue to play in the Tournament.
Score Prediction: LSU 83 Yale 79