NCAA tournament team previews: Robert Morris Colonials
As part of its preview of the 2015 NCAA men’s basketball tournament, SI.com is taking a look at all 68 teams in the field. RPI and SOS data from realtimerpi.com. Adjusted offense and defense are from kenpom.com and measure the number of points scored and allowed per 100 possessions, and the team’s national rank. All stats through Monday, March 16.
Record: 19-14, 12-6 Northeast Conference
Adjusted offensive/defensive efficiency: 101.1 (191st)/102.3 (169th)
Seed: No. 16 in South
Impact player: Rodney Pryor, junior, guard: 15.2 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 119.1 offensive rating.
The Case For: The Colonials don't have a lot of NCAA tournament experience (their last appearance was in 2010, when they took No. 2 seed Villanova to overtime before falling), but they do have postseason experience against some historical heavy-hitters. If the name Robert Morris sounds familiar, it's because it's the school that took down Kentucky in the first round of the NIT two seasons ago. And last year, the Colonials beat a 20-13 St. John's team in the NIT first round. Senior guard Lucky Jones, who scores 14.3 ppg, was on both of those teams. Robert Morris has strong guard play led by senior Rodney Pryor, a junior college transfer who averages 15.2 ppg. The Colonials are also a top 40 three-point shooting team and have three different players who shoot over 42% from deep. That makes them a candidate to get hot and—just like they did five years ago—take someone down to the wire, where this time they might yet be able to pull off the upset.
The Case Against: This Robert Morris team didn't do as well in the regular season as in either of the last two years, and Karvel Anderson, who scored 38 in the win over St. John's, has graduated. The Colonials are a young team that could be easily rattled playing an elite team in front of a huge crowd. They played North Carolina in Chapel Hill back in November and were dominated, 103-59. Robert Morris hasn't played a top 100 RPI team since December and it has seven loses to teams outside the top 150. This team won't beat you on the boards, and they're routinely killed in offensive rebounding. Their only hope at an upset appears to be catching fire from the perimeter while executing a perfect game otherwise, and despite their sharp shooting that's an incredibly risky thing to count on. They might have had a bit of recent success in the NIT, but winning in the NCAA tournament is another matter.
SI prediction: Lose to North Florida in First Four