As the NCAA world strolls through their non-conference portion of the season, many mid-major programs care less about wins vs. losses and more about surprises vs. expected. Some wins are expected and some wins are surprises. The same for losses.
Between Robert Morris University, Duquesne University and St. Francis University, the first weekend of the 2014/15 campaign saw games that were both expected and surprising.
Robert Morris Colonials (0-2)
One weekend, two losses by a combined total of 77 points. No silver lining there. Although, if we're scoring by surprised outcomes vs. expected outcomes, I'd say RMU stands at 1-1. Traveling to North Carolina to take on UNC was never to be anything more than an learning opportunity at the hands of one of the best teams in the country. That learning opportunity translated into a blowout by UNC, 103-59.
But, there is still a positive worth mentioning. Freshman guard, Marquise Reed, found himself with 24 points, on 10-15 from the field, when it was all said and done. Certainly nothing to ignore.
The surprising outcome came two nights earlier at the hands of Lafayette, losing 77-50. It was there, where RMU found a loss to be a surprise. A deadly combination of poor shooting and a softer-than-expected 2-3 zone defense spelled an easy win for the Lafayette Leopards. Seniors Dan Trist and Seth Hinrichs took care of business and left Lucky Jones and head coach Andy Toole both wondering where the energy level went that night.
St Francis Red Flash (0-2)
The Patriot League has not been kind to the NEC. Preseason favorites, the American Eagles, hosted SFU on Monday night and sent the Red Flash packing with an 0-2 start to the year, losing 49-46. Much like RMU, their start to the season looks more like 1-1 when gauging surprised outcomes vs. expected outcomes.
The entire game against American University was spent within five points, or less, of one another. And, with five seconds left, it was Dominique Major, of SFU, who missed a three-point attempt to tie. Sophomore guard, Malik Harmon, carried SFU with an impressive shooting display to the tune of 20 points. Harmon went 7-11 from the field and 4-7 from deep.
Friday night's visit to the Cincinnati Bearcats saw a much more predictable outcome, losing to Cincinnati 52-37. As would be expected when facing an opponent from the AAC, St. Francis struggled to find basket. Only Ronnie Drinnon was able to shoot .500 (4-8, 9 points) as the rest of team struggled too much to make a difference.
Duquesne Dukes (1-0)
Coach Jim Ferry has placed an emphasis on building a foundation with this year's team. That foundation certainly began the right way as they dispatched Bluefield State, 91-51 to no surprise. Speaking of no surprise, the backcourt duo of Micah Mason and Derrick Colter led with 16 points from Mason and a career-high 26 points from Colter. Colter was 7-8 from three-point range as the team was 14-25 (56%).
Freshman, Eric James, was a surprise off the bench, finishing the night with 14 points and 7 rebounds. While a tougher opponent may be needed to see the true nature of Duquesne, game one was certainly an excellent step towards building Coach Ferry's solid foundation.