Mercer Bears: NCAA Tournament Team Preview

Mercer Bears NCAA 

Mercer Bears (14 Seed, Midwest Bracket)

Record: 26-8 (14-4 in Atlantic Sun Conference)

Coach: Bob Hoffman

Tournament Berth:  Conference Champion

Big Wins: at Florida Gulf Coast, at Mississippi

Big Loses: at Texas, at Oklahoma

Last year a team came out of the Atlantic Sun conference as a 15 seed and advanced all the way to the Sweet 16. This year, Florida Gulf Coast (FGCU) is sitting home while the new conference champions, the Mercer Bears, are headed into the NCAA Tournament as a 14 seed. Even though they were the regular season champions of the A-Sun conference last season they were left out after losing to FGCU in the championship game. This year the Bears are making their first appearance at the big dance since 1985.

The entire starting five for Mercer is composed of seniors, including sixth-year senior Jake Gollon, who as of right has the most games played in NCAA men’s Division I history without playing in a tournament game. That will change very shortly, when Mercer clashes with Duke on Friday. Gollon, who dealt with recurring foot injuries from his senior year of high school through his sophomore year at Mercer, received medical red shirts for both seasons because he played so little time. Since then, he has not missed a game and has turned into a nice all-around player, ranking second on the team in rebounds and second in assists.

Mercer makes their money at the three-point line, where they hoist an average of 21.2 per game and made the sisxteenth most in the nation. For such a high-volume shooting team they also have a solid field goal percentage, which allows them to score well. Their biggest issue, like many lower seeded teams, is their lack of size. This will pose a problem for them unless they can stay hot from deep.

Mercer does have a big win under their belt, on national television over Ole Miss, so hopefully the shock of a big crowd and cameras is not too much. None of their seniors have played in a NCAA Tournament game, but have enough experience overall to make up for it. Mercer’s best hope is to play fast and hoist as many shots as possible, and hope they hit their threes.

Top Players

POINTS

PPG

FG%

FT%

3PT%

Langston Hall

14.7

.396

.857

.392

Daniel Coursey

9.9

.576

.725

N/A

REBOUNDS

REB

OFF

DEF

BPG

Daniel Coursey

6.6

2.3

4.3

2.1

Jake Gollon

4.5

1.4

3.1

0.2

ASSISTS

APG

SPG

TO

AST/TO

Langston Hall

5.6

1.5

2.4

2.3

Jake Gollon

2.6

1.0

1.8

1.5

Starting Five

F – Daniel Coursey

F – Bud Thomas

F – Jakob Gollon

G – Anthony White, Jr.

G – Langston Hall

Who’s Hot:  The big difference in Mercer’s eight point victory over FGCU was free throw shooting. The Bears went 20 for 24 from the line, while FGCU went 10 of 18. Mercer has gotten better from the line as the season progressed. It could be the difference if they can hang close.

Who’s Not: The bench has been very quiet of late. The Bears better hope their starters don’t run out of gas.

Outlook: The Bears have little depth and rely on their senior starters heavily. They are only going to beat higher ranked teams if they get hot from three-point land. They are not consistent enough to match their conference rival’s run from last season, but have potential to pull an upset in the first round.

Commentary by Brian Moore
@Hey_Brian

Sources:
Basketball State
Sports Reference
Kansas City Star

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