What a shocker.
I expected Drexel to be much better in Coach Spiker’s second year. After losing to a shaky Bowling Green squad at home, I did not see a win over well regarded Houston coming. What to believe? Perhaps a little bit of both, but more than likely, the former is the better indicator. Early season tournaments often have many first round surprises. This year alone, in addition to Drexel, 11 point underdog St. Louis beat VPI, 17 point underdog Quinnipiac lost by just 1 to Colorado and 14 point dog FIU lost in 3 overtime periods to Elon. Those are all double digit first round favorites. They all struggled.
Today, Drexel today faces an entirely different animal.
Mid majors often hope for young players to start as freshman who become NCAA tournament threats when they become juniors and seniors. Mercer has ten upperclassmen and all five starters back from last year. In 2014 under similar circumstances, Mercer beat Duke in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Mercer has a superb 10th year coach in Bob Hoffman. They began the season by playing South Florida tough in Tampa and in the first round of this tournament they easily beat the home team, Liberty. Liberty has a win at Wake Forest under their belt already. Kelvin Sampson (Houston) teams often stray from smart. Mercer will absolutely not. Mercer is less athletic than Houston but is a much much tougher out.
Prediction: Mercer 82 Drexel 67