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 though Monday, March 16.
Record: 19-13 (13-7 in MAAC)
Adjusted offensive/defensive efficiency: 100.9 (196th)/99.5 (109th)
Seed: No. 16 in Midwest (First Four)
Impact player: Emmy Andujar, senior, forward: 16.7 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 3.5 apg
The Case For: A year ago at this time, current seniors Andujar and RaShawn Stores were among the five primary rotation players for a Manhattan team that nearly upset then-defending national champion Louisville in the Round of 64. The principals from that team are gone, and that’s part of why this year’s Jaspers are a 16-seed while last year’s team was a 13-seed. Still, any low seed that’s going to pull an upset needs a scorer who can take over a game, and Manhattan has that in Andujar. The 6'6" senior has shot better than 51 percent in each of the last two seasons and is also probably the team’s best individual defender. Center Ashton Pankey shot 54 percent on 263 field goal attempts this season and can dominate in the paint, giving the Jaspers a reliable second option. They also play at the 30th-quickest tempo in the country, and that could take a slower team out of its comfort zone.
The Case Against: Being a 16-seed in the First Four should tell you a lot about what you need to know. The Jaspers upset Iona in the MAAC championship game after finishing third in the regular season. They have losses to Fairfield, George Mason, Niagara and Quinnipiac, all of which are outside the top 200 in RPI. Manhattan has trouble taking care of the ball, turning it over on 21 percent of its possessions, which ranks 296th in the country. Nor is it a great rebounding team, allowing opponents to grab 33.7 percent of potential offensive boards. The Jaspers also don’t scare anyone from distance, shooting just 34 percent from behind the arc as a team. Quite frankly, the overall field of 68 would have been stronger had Iona won the MAAC tournament. The Gaels likely would have landed on the 13-seed line. Manhattan, meanwhile, might not even make it out of Dayton. The Jaspers could win a game, but even if they do, they'll be finished against Kentucky by halftime.
SI prediction: Lose to Kentucky in Round of 64