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Game Preview: Grand Canyon Antelopes

After nearly shuttering due to financial problems ten years ago, the publicly traded, for-profit institution sending its Dan Majerle-led program Bloomington Saturday shows the Freudian id of 21st-century college sports.

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports


Who? Grand Canyon Antelopes (4-5, #286 KenPom) v. Indiana Hoosiers (7-2, #54 KenPom)

When? 5:00 PM, BTN

Vegas? No line

Pomeroy? INDIANA by 18, 95% chance of victory



You didn't come here to get a lesson in Freudian psychology, but you're going to get one.

Now two seasons into their Division-I transition,  the 'Lopes are everything effectively scary about the future of the NCAA, rolled up into one little ball of an athletic program. Formerly a small, christian NAIA school that won a handful of national titles in basketball in the 70's and 80's, Grand Canyon University is now a publicly-traded company. I'm not kidding, here's a link to their stock ticker on the NASDAQ. In 2004, GCU was mired in a financial crises that left them with two options -- shutter the university or take a bailout from a group investors that would completely overhaul the school from a small, private institution to a for-profit corporation. It's gone swimmingly for both the school -- which has seen $200 million invested into the campus and seen an on-campus enrollment of nearly 10,000 -- and it's holding company, Grand Canyon Education, which now trades at above $40 a share and has been featured on Forbes' Best Businesses lists.

Process that for a second. Holding companies. IPOs. College basketball.

Much of the narrative in college sports in recent years has centered around large universities "profiting" off of unpaid athletes. In that, we discuss the Alabamas, the Ohio States, the Texases of the world -- the athletic departments that are oft-criticized for keeping their programs well in the black. The University of Connecticut reaps the rewards of millions of dollars of exposure during the NCAA Tournament last March, while Shabazz Napier doesn't have the money to go get himself a late-night snack. Still, college athletic departments are non-profit organizations and the money, eventually, has to be re-routed back to students in some way or form.

Until now.

Grand Canyon University is unabashedly doing exactly what cry afoul over most in college athletics -- profiting off unpaid student-athletes. And to be honest, I'm not exactly quite sure how to feel about it. It's not a fault of the student athletes, or coaches, or athletic administrators. GCU was faced with a choice 10 years ago -- take the money or cease to exist. Looking past the discussion for-profit institutions -- which is another subject Myron Medcalf touches on in this piece on GCU for ESPN, it's undoubtedly been a great move for students on that campus. They've done tremendous things with the investment. Does this sparkling-new basketball arena look like one of a NAIA school that nearly didn't exist ten years ago? Hardly. But Saturday afternoon, some back-room figure somewhere will be gleeful not because of GCU's performance on the basketball floor, but because of the positive implications that two-hour BTN infomercial will have for (LOPE) on the NASDAQ on Monday morning.

But that's enough about stocks. Let's basketball.


Four Factors

eFG% TO% OR% FT Rate
INDIANA (Offense) 59.8% (4th) 18.2% (90th) 36.2% (60th) 40.5% (116th)
GRAND CANYON (Defense) 47.2% (130th) 20.9% (125th) 38.0% (316th) 25.2% (14th)

eFG% TO% OR% FT Rate
INDIANA (Defense) 49.0% (181st) 19.2% (220th) 36.0% (297th) 23.7% (8th)
GRAND CANYON (Offense) 46.6% (232nd) 22.3% (280th) 27.4% (279th) 37.0% (183rd)

What does all this mean? First, HOO BOY CAN INDIANA SHOOT. But you know that. Second, Grand Canyon isn't very good at much of anything, other than not fouling. Still, Indiana is better at not fouling. Indiana turns it over some, GCU turns it over more. You get the picture. The numbers say this a game the Hoosiers should win, and win by a lot.


Guards Royce Woolbridge, Jerome Garrison (preseason first-team All-WAC), and Ryan Majerle (Coach's nephew, not son) all average in the low double-digits in scoring, but none stand taller than 6'3" -- so that shouldn't be a problem for this backcourt-heavy Hoosier team. If there's a player that might present problems for Indiana, it might be senior and Texas A&M transfer Daniel Alexander. Alexander was a Top-100 and high-major recruit coming out of Texas four years ago, and has shown that enough at GCU to garner second-team All-WAC honors in the preseason. He's a rangy big-man with the ability to stretch floor and drop an occasional 20-point-plus game, but has missed a couple of games this season. If he's full-go, he could challenge Hanner Mosquera-Perea's ability to defend both the perimeter and the post.


Grand Canyon's coached by Dan Majerle. You know Dan Majerle, the NBA guy! Thunder Dan!


Also, Grand Canyon has more foreign-born players (7 from Australia, Nigeria, Senegal, Spain, & Canada) than players from Arizona. So that's neat.


Indiana should win this game, easily. Grand Canyon's not even 24 months out of Division 2, doesn't have any huge post threat, so the Hoosiers should be okay. Right? Right!

But, Big Ten Eastern Washington North Florida NJIT Eastern Michigan Incarnate Word, so whatever.