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 are through Monday, March 16.
Record: 24-9 (12-6 Big South)
Adjusted offensive/defensive efficiency: 103.6 (140th)/102.2 (165th)
Seed: West No. 16
Impact player: Warren Gillis, senior, guard. 13.1 ppg, 3.2 apg, 101.5 offensive rating
The Case For: The Chanticleers will be a low seed with a high degree of familiarity with the NCAA tournament, making their second straight appearance. And they actually had a halftime lead on No. 1 seed Virginia last March, suggesting that coach Cliff Ellis can effectively flush any sense of intimidation or inferiority from his crew.
Nor is this a team driven by one superlative, small-conference star. Four players average in double figures, and it has seven players with usage rates between 16.8% and 24.3%. That should prevent Coastal Carolina from flopping because things go bad for one guy, and it should present a challenge to a swaggering higher seed, which will have to pay heed to multiple options on the offensive end. And the Chanticleers can pound the boards; they posted 440 offensive rebounds by the end of the Big South tournament, which placed them in the top 20 nationally. Their rebound percentage (38%) was actually better than Kentucky’s. They are a balanced crew with NCAA tournament experience that can do the little things needed to win. That makes them a threat.
The Case Against: The Chanticleers were only 1-2 against the major-conference competition it faced this season, and the win was a four-point victory over a very bad, very rebuilding Auburn team. They’re not particularly elite on either side of the ball—137th in offensive efficiency, 164th in defensive efficiency. They hit 35.4% from three-point range, good for a middling 117th nationally, and they don’t seem to move the ball a ton, assisting on just 46.5% of their baskets, which puts them in the bottom third of Division 1.
Nor do they create a lot of havoc, forcing opponents into turnovers 17.8% of the time, good for 84th nationally. In other words, there isn’t one thing that Coastal Carolina does that would be foreign or particularly frustrating to a big-conference opponent. And though they are a strong rebounding outfit, the Chanticleers don’t deploy anyone taller than 6’7” in their regular rotation, so matchups could be a problem on the defensive end.
SI prediction: Lose in the Round of 64 to Wisconsin