UNC Asheville Men's Basketball 2016 NCAA Tournament Capsule

UNC Asheville Bulldogs
Big South (22-11, 12-6)
Coach Nick McDevitt came into this season with a group of players who had very little experience. UNC Asheville’s eight man rotation that eventually emerged included three freshmen and three sophomores. This was a team looking for a leader in November and December. It never got one. Instead, the Bulldogs found six players who all took a big step up in production or were surprisingly effective as freshmen. Leadership could be an issue at times, but this is a team that came together and is playing great basketball right now.
Big Wins: 12/15 East Tennessee State (84-64), 12/19 at Georgetown (79-73), 3/6 vs Winthrop (77-68)
Bad Losses: 12/21 Elon (81-86), 2/11 Radford (59-60), 2/27 Coastal Carolina (79-81)
Coach: Nick McDevitt
Why They Can Surprise:
What Coach McDevitt has is a bunch of big, athletic, versatile guards who can do a bit of everything. Freshman Dwayne Sutton averages 12.0 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.6 steals per game. The 6-5 guard helps out in every aspect of the game and can be extremely difficult for the opposition to defend, especially when he is matched up with a big, slow power forward. Another freshman, Dylan Smith, is the team’s top scorer at 13.5 points per game and the team’s top outside shooting threat. Sophomores Kevin Vannatta and Ahmad Thomas are both athletic guards too who hit the glass effectively and will pick up plenty of steals. And that is what the athleticism of a bunch of 6-2 to 6-5 guards will do. They get into passing lanes and steal as many passes as just about any team in the nation. This group also attacks the basket very effectively and play great perimeter defense. Even when the team can get a shot off, the long arms of the lanky guards make it tough to hit from the outside.
Why They Can Disappoint:
Once the ball is inside though, the defense is not nearly as good. When you run four athletic guards on the perimeter, you want a big guy to play some defense in the paint. UNC Asheville’s big guy is 6-4 senior Sam Hughes. Hughes is an effective scorer in the paint and can block some shots, but size is a concern, especially in the NCAA Tournament. Will Weeks is a bit bigger at 6-6 and 220 pounds and he is the main component for Coach McDevitt off of the bench. Playing Hughes and Weeks together does not make the team any bigger though. UNC Asheville has made up for the lack of size with athleticism and that has worked in the Big South. This is a team that finished third in the conference in rebounding margin and that is not bad at all. But when the opposition has an athletic 6-7 or 6-8 forward or two who can defend Sutton and Thomas, that is a game changer. Suddenly the Bulldogs are matched in athleticism and do not have the size to match up with their opponents. That is what happened against Texas A&M early in the year in a blowout loss. The Aggies had the size and athleticism across the board to get into the paint and dominate.
Probable Starters:
Kevin Vannatta, Sophomore, Guard, 11.7 ppg, 2.7 apg, 4.2 rpg
Ahmad Thomas, Sophomore, Guard, 11.2 ppg, 1.9 apg, 6.5 rpg, 2.1 spg
Dylan Smith, Freshman, Guard, 13.5 ppg, 1.8 apg
Dwayne Sutton, Freshman, Guard, 12.0 ppg, 1.3 apg, 7.8 rpg, 1.6 spg
Sam Hughes, Senior, Forward, 10.9 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.3 bpg
Key Roleplayers:
Trae Bryant, Freshman, Guard, 2.4 ppg
Will Weeks, Junior, Forward, 6.9 ppg, 4.3 rpg
Alec Wnuk, Sophomore, Forward, 1.5 ppg, 1.3 rpg
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 75.6 (116th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 67.5 (75, 2)
Field-Goal Percentage: 45.8 (89, 4)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.3 (107, 2)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 5.8 (292, 9)   
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 32.4 (271, 10)
Free-Throw Percentage: 69.4 (186, 7)
Rebound Margin:  2.3 (107, 3)
Assists Per Game:  12.5 (228, 7)
Turnovers Per Game:  13.0 (206, 6)
Recent Postseason Appearances:
2012    NCAA Second Round loss to Syracuse
2011    NCAA Opening Round win over AR-Little Rock
2011    NCAA Round of 64 loss to Pittsburgh
2008    NIT    First Round loss to Ohio State
2003    NCAA Round of 64 loss to Texas   
*all team stats through 3/6