Courtesy of kenpom.com:
Category Offense Defense D-I Avg
Off. Reb. %:
Point Distribution (% of total points)
Strength of Schedule
2.16 yrs 
A couple of noteworthy things when reading this chart. One, if a number is in brackets, it is a national rank. Two: green equals good, red equals bad.
There's only one thing in the Four Factors that St. Mary's is bad at, and as luck would have it it's one of the things we're bad at too: forcing turnovers. That should be a huge aid to our offense. This team simply cannot afford turnovers. Because we surrender the offensive rebound for our transition defense, we need to make our possessions count. All of them. Secondly, we are not a come-from-behind team, as evidenced by UCLA and countless other runs that have put us down this season. Maybe not so much against UCLA, but in most games where we've been run off the floor this season, turnovers have played a huge role.
The good news, at least I like to think it's good, is that St. Mary's only does one thing remarkably well. That's offensive rebounding, and the fact of the matter is when you have superior talent in a conference like the WCC, you absolutely should dominate the offensive glass (although Gonzaga doesn't, which is either an anomaly or a result of their brutal nonconference schedule).
Which brings me to my key matchup of the game: Aron Baynes versus Diamon Simpson. We need Baynes to be prolific with defensive rebounding, and we need him to steer clear of foul trouble, which he's been so good at this year. Simpson is ranked 11th nationally in free throw rate, so watch out. If Baynes gets in trouble, hope Casto is a suitable replacement. If DeAngelo gets in trouble too, we are basically out of luck. Might not matter what Patty Mills does if our big men get two quick fouls called on them. Simpson is also a beast at defensive rebounding, rated 35th nationally in DR%. Again, as I look at these numbers, I hope it has something to do with the fact that St. Mary's opposition just wasn't as strong as ours.
So, my three burning questions for the game are:
- Is Patty Mills back to form? His injury basically sunk a Top 25 team.
- Can Baynes outperform Simpson under the basket?
- Can we keep St. Mary's off the free throw line?
If I could tell you the answers to those, I would probably have some kind of super power. I can't. We'll find out for sure tomorrow
The scariest thing as I glance at the scouting report above it looks remarkably similar to one University of Washington basketball team. Dominant in offensive rebounding, excellent at getting to the free throw line. Don't get down about that - UW is much better, and we held our own against the Huskies even with Klay Thompson and Marcus Capers in foul trouble. Nevertheless, St. Mary's is a solid team that has every right to have a chip on their shoulders about failing to make the Big Dance.
Make no mistake - I want this game. One, to give WSU and the Pac-10 a marquee win in the NIT. Secondly, the WCC has been going all out in its effort to recruit Australia's finest. They even worked with ESPN (imagine that!) to get a number of their conference games televised down under. I would love to show a nationwide audience in the U.S., and possibly Australia, that Baynes is the best Aussie on the court, and that Australian players should be looking to suit up in Crimson and Gray.
This game, oddly enough, could have some serious impact on recruiting in the future. At least we have Brock Motum already locked up for next fall.