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: 24-9 (15-5 in Sun Belt)
Adjusted offensive/defensive efficiency: 108.4 (58th) / 99.2 (106th)
Seed: No. 14 in West
Impact player: R.J. Hunter, junior, guard: 19.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 111.5 offensive rating
The Case For: Georgia State is led by coach Ron Hunter’s son, R.J., and senior guard Ryan Harrow (18.7 ppg) who enjoy freedom within the offense to infiltrate space and create shots. The team also has some blue blood swagger and won’t be intimidated by a high-seeded opponent: Harrow formerly played at both N.C. State and Kentucky, and fellow guard Kevin Ware (7.7 ppg) transferred from Louisville in 2014 after sustaining a famously horrific broken leg in the 2013 NCAA tournament. The Panthers are also adaptable to their opponent. Unlike many teams in the field, they’re not married to a particular style or pace of play. In March alone they’ve won games in the low 80s (against Louisiana Lafayette), high 50s (against Louisiana Monroe) and high 30s (against Georgia Southern). Lastly, they aren’t strangers to physical, ball-hawking play. Georgia State is seventh nationally in block percentage and 10th in steal percentage while holding opponents to just 42% from two-point range. Its on-ball pressure could disrupt Baylor’s offense and force uncomfortable shots.
The Case Against: There are 14 leagues that ranked below the Sun Belt Conference in overall quality, according to kenpom.com. That hasn't helped the Panthers prepare for facing tournament teams, and Baylor is not just any tournament team. In fact, the Bears rank No. 15 in the kenpom.com overall rankings while shooting 38 percent as a team from three-point range. Georgia State, meanwhile, relies on two-point field goals to accumulate the bulk of its scoring. Fewer than one-fifth of its total points come from behind the arc. If Baylor can cut off the interior and force the Panthers to shoot threes, this game could be over quickly. The Bears have held opponents to 29.8% shooting from deep, the 10th-lowest percentage in the country. Georgia State's most frequent three-point shooter, by far, is Hunter, who makes only 29.4% of his outside shots.
SI prediction: Lose to Baylor in Round of 64