has helped drive Albany back to the NCAA tournament, where it lost last year to Duke. (Al Tielemans/SI)
As part of its preview of the 2014 NCAA men's basketball tournament, SI.com is taking a look at all 68 teams in the field. For more teams, click here.
Record: 18-14, 9-7 in the America East
Adjusted Offense/Defense: 101.9 (225th); Adjusted Defense: 103.4 (143rd)
Seed: No. 16 in South (First Four)
Impact player: Sam Rowley, junior forward, 11.5 points, 6.7 rebounds per game, 52.1 percent shooting.
The Case For
The Great Danes have NCAA tournament experience, making four trips under coach Will Brown, including just last season. They’re also resilient, winning the America East tournament by beating Stony Brook on its home floor. Albany makes teams work for whatever they get on offense. It is sixth in the nation in defensive free throw rate at .292, a measure of opponents' free throw attempts per field goal attempts. That suggests the Danes can play tough defense without fouling. Offensively, Albany has four players averaging double-figure scoring, led by Peter Hooley (15.7 points per game) and Sam Rowley, so there is some semblance of balance.
The Case Against
The Great Danes finished fourth in the America East in the regular season and probably only made the conference title game because they played two rounds of the league’s tournament on their home floor. Their effective field goal percentage is 48.7, just 222nd in the nation, and their 157 made three-pointers ranks 297th in the nation.
To concoct some massive upset, a small-conference team usually needs some sort of quirky strength that might catch a powerhouse unawares. Albany doesn’t have that. There's no evidence that a three-point barrage is forthcoming, nor a defensive assault that results in a huge chunk of turnovers. Two of the top three scorers shoot 40.3 percent and 38.5 percent from the floor, respectively, against a comparatively low level of competition. The Great Danes did well to get this far, but they appear to be first-round fodder.
SI Prediction: Beat Mount St. Mary's in First Four, lose to Florida in second round
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