Dellavedova will catapult Saint Mary’s
by Patrick Stevens, Special for USA TODAY Sports
Team of the day: Saint Mary’s
Route to the Dance: At-large (West Coast)
Credentials: 28-6 (14-2 West Coast), beat Middle Tennessee 67-54 in opening round
Signature win: It’s not the only reason the Gaels reached the NCAA tournament, but the BracketBuster defeat of Creighton on Feb. 23 did a lot of good.
It was Saint Mary’s only top-50 victory prior to Tuesday’s defeat of Middle Tennessee, and it (along with a 9-2 road record) went a long way in getting the Gaels to back-to-back NCAA tournaments for the first time in school history.
Team strength: Point guard play
The Gaels have made it this far because of Matthew Dellavedova, plain and and simple.
The senior from Australia authored one of the best buzzer-beaters of the season when he downed Brigham Young in Provo from near midcourt. He’s started all but three of his 135 career games since he arrived in the Bay Area. He averages 6.4 assists in addition to leading Saint Mary’s in steals and 3-pointers made.
Yet as much as anything else, the Gaels rely on him to score and did so to some extent even back in 2010 when he ran the point for a Sweet 16 team. And aside from an unusually quiet West Coast Conference (when he shot 3-for-20 from the floor over two games), Dellavedova will do precisely that.
Saint Mary’s is 23-6 all-time when Dellavedova scores at least 20 points. He had 22 on Tuesday against Middle Tennessee, and is the one element Memphis will be most likely to struggle to find an answer for in Thursday’s round of 64 date in Auburn Hills, Mich.
This team will remind you of: 2007 Virginia Commonwealth
The Gaels’ athleticism isn’t quite on par with the bunch of Rams who chased Duke out of the tournament in the round of 64 helped solidify VCU as one of the most well-known and respected teams outside the power conferences.
The teams scored at nearly the same rate (75.0 points a night for VCU, 75.2 for this Saint Mary’s bunch). VCU had three players average double figures in scoring and six checked in with at least 6.4 points a … [For more on Cinderella Watch: Dellavedova will catapult Saint Mary's in NCAAs, click here.]