As part of its preview of the 2016 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 statistics are from kenpom.com and measure the number of points scored and allowed per 100 possessions, and the team’s national rank. All other advanced stats are also from kenpom.com (unless noted otherwise), and are through March 14.
Adjusted offensive/defensive efficiency: 104.4 (166th)/108.9 (274th)
Seed: South No. 16
Impact Player: Chris Horton, senior, center, 18.9 PPG, 12.0 RPG
The Case For: It’s hard to see the Governors winning a game, or even staying competitive, but they just completed a stunning tournament run as the Ohio Valley Conference’s No. 8 seed to nab a bid, and they’ve got an inspiring story to help rally the team. Head coach Dave Loos’s granddaughter Rhyan recently underwent surgery to remove a tumor from an adrenal gland above her kidney just a few months after another one of his granddaughters, Olivia, had brain surgery. The Governors have chosen to adorn warmup shirts that say “Rally for Rhyan,” and the six-year old Rhyan has sent in photos and videos with thumbs up and thank-you cards to the team for their support.
On the basketball end, the Governors’ offense runs through Horton and sophomore guard Josh Robinson, who combined for 44 points in the Ohio Valley Conference title game to defeat Tennessee-Martin. Austin Peay relies heavily on those two for most of their offensive production, and its upset of Belmont, the overwhelming favorite entering the conference tournament, might be added motivation for a team that struggled most of the season. With wins in nine of their last 12, the Governors could bait Kansas into a close game if they rely on Horton for points early.
The Case Against: Plenty. The Governors were routed in the two games they squared off with major-conference opponents (Vanderbilt and Indiana) and had a host of other bad losses. They’re an objectively terrible defensive team (274th in defensive efficiency) and don’t boast any legitimate scoring depth. In meeting Kansas, a team that has won 14 consecutive games, the Governors will have to compile a defensive performance for the ages to even reach the second round. While it’d be a nice and inspiring story to see the Governors give the Jayhawks a run, it’s hard to even fathom how it’d happen.
SI Prediction: Lose to Kansas in first round.