When the NCAA tournament roles around, that is when many basketball folks begin analyzing each team in the field. What seed are they? Who are they playing? Who have they played?, and so on. If you have not followed college basketball up to this point, we are here to help you. Trust us and read below to learn about the mid-major team that you do not want your favorite team crossing ends with in the big dance.
Are you ready? Drum roll, please… McNeese State. A small school in Lake Charles, Louisiana that enrolled 5,707 students in 2022. You may be thinking, “this tiny school is going to take down my team in March?,” we obviously cannot guarantee what will happen, however given the power of eyes and stats, we can assure you that McNeese State is not to be messed with.
The Cowboys compete in the Southland conference and are undefeated in conference play thus far, going 8-0 through the first eight matchups. While remaining unbeaten in conference play, the Cowboys have boosted their record up to 19-2, with their last loss coming on Nov. 22 at Louisiana Tech. Yes, you read that right, they have not lost a game since November 22.
The Cowboys have not played many “hard” games, but they did defeat Michigan on Dec. 29 in Ann Arbor. Though Michigan is not having its best season, McNeese State deserves its credit for defeating a Big Ten opponent on the road.
If the consistency of staying in the win column wasn’t enough to turn your head, we are happy to inform you that McNeese State is currently ranked fifth best in Division I for points allowed per game, only giving up an average of 61.2. While giving up a limited amount of points on the defensive end, on offense, the Cowboys average 80.3 points per game, which is a +19.0 point difference, ranking them second in Division I in point differential. The only team ahead of the Cowboys in that category is the Houston Cougars (+21.1) - who are ranked No. 4 in the nation.
McNeese State is also ranked No. 14 in Division I under the field goal percentage tab, averaging a percentage of 49.2% field goals made per game.
You may be wondering, who funds this offensive power? The main answer is senior Shahada Wells. Wells is averaging 18.3 points per game along with 4.6 assists, leading the Cowboys in both of those categories. The Texas native played in his home state his whole collegiate career, playing two seasons at UT Arlington and one season at TCU before crossing state lines into Louisiana. Given this is Wells’ third team, he can provide veteran experience once tournament play rolls around.
The second player who leads McNeese State in points per game is Christian Shumate. Shumate averages 12.5 points per game along with only one assist, however, the Tulsa transfer is ranked No. 28 in Division I for rebounds per game, averaging 9.6. After transferring out of Tulsa after the 2020-21 season, Shumate has been with the Cowboys ever since, therefore, you can rely on him for the veteran experience as well.
McNeese State is lighting up college basketball right now and they look to continue its domination throughout the rest of the year. If your favorite team runs into McNeese State in March, buckle up, because it may not end well.