Liberty Men's Basketball 2020 NCAA Tournament Capsule


Liberty Flames

ASUN (30-4, 13-3)

On the heels of their first ever NCAA Tournament victory, Liberty heads into the 2020 tournament with hopes of adding to their resume. Last season the Flames, as a 12 seed, upset Mississippi State. This group entered the 2019-2020 campaign with very high expectations. For the most part they lived up to them, but there have not been too many opportunities for Coach Ritchie McKay to really show what this team can do.
Big Wins: 12/14 at Vanderbilt (61-56), 12/20 vs Towson (66-54), 12/21 vs Akron (80-67)
Bad Losses: 1/23 at North Florida (70-71), 1/25 at Stetson (43-48), 2/2 at Lipscomb (71-77)
Coach:  Ritchie McKay
Why They Can Surprise:
What Liberty does best is play defense. They rank second in the nation allowing just 53.8 points per game. Only Virginia gives up fewer points. They also rank in the top 15 in field-goal percentage defense and three-point field-goal percentage defense. This is a Flames team that will slow the game down and make their opponents work hard for every point. And Liberty does that very well by limiting their turnovers and working their offense for a clean look at the basket. No team in the nation has fewer turnovers per game and Liberty shoots an impressive 47.9 percent from the floor. Scottie James does much of the hard work, averaging 10.8 points and 7.4 rebounds while shooting 60.5 percent from the floor. The other top scoring threats are guards Caleb Homesley and Georgie Pacheco-Ortiz.
Why They Can Disappoint:
Liberty lost three conference games this year to North Florida, Stetson and Lipscomb. All three were on the road, but the Flames were still expected to win those games. Their tough defense kept those games close, but their offense was not enough to get the victory. Homesley, Pacheco-Ortiz and Elijah Cuffee are all capable outside shooters and they will need to be able to knock down shots against the tougher defenses they will face in the NCAA Tournament. That should open up some space for James in the paint and in turn provide more space on the perimeter. If the offense is firing on all cylinders, Liberty can make a push towards the Sweet Sixteen.
Probable Starters:
Caleb Homesley, Senior, Guard, 15.3 ppg, 2.4 apg, 5.7 rpg
Georgie Pacheco-Ortiz, Senior, Guard, 10.7 ppg, 2.1 apg
Darius McGhee, Sophomore, Guard, 9.5 ppg, 1.7 apg, 4.0 rpg
Elijah Cuffee, Junior, Guard, 7.0 ppg, 2.3 apg
Scottie James, Senior, Forward, 10.8 ppg, 7.4 rpg
Key Role Players:
Myo Baxter-Bell, Senior, Forward, 7.4 ppg, 3.0 rpg
Kyle Rode, Freshman, Forward, 4.2 ppg, 2.3 rpg
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 68.6 (252nd in nation, 3rd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 53.8 (2, 1)
Field-Goal Percentage: 47.9 (13, 1)
Field-Goal Defense: 38.7 (11, 1)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.6 (137, 2)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 36.6 (38, 2)
Free-Throw Percentage: 71.3 (158, 2)
Rebound Margin: 4.1 (63, 1)
Assists Per Game: 13.1 (180, 3)
Turnovers Per Game: 9.4 (1, 1)
Recent Postseason Appearances:
2019NCAARound of 64 win over Mississippi State
2019NCAARound of 32 loss to Virginia Tech
2018CITFirst Round win over North Carolina A&T
2018CITQuarterfinal win over Central Michigan
2018CITSemifinal loss to Illinois Chicago
2017CITFirst Round win over Norfolk State
2017CITSecond Round win over Samford
2017CITQuarterfinal loss to UMBC
2013NCAAOpening Round loss to North Carolina A&T
2009CITFirst Round win over Rider
2009CITSecond Round loss to James Madison
2004NCAARound of 64 loss to St. Joseph's
1994NCAARound of 64 loss to North Carolina
*all team stats through 3/8