NCAA tournament team previews: Manhattan Jaspers
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. 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. For more teams, click here.
Record: 25-7, 15-5 in MAAC
Adjusted offense/ Adjusted defense: 105.8 (145) / 96.7 (42)
Seed: No. 13 in Midwest
Key player: George Beamon, senior G/F, 19.2 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 1.6 spg
The Case For:
Third-year coach Steve Masiello has turned Manhattan into Louisville Lite on defense after spending six years as an assistant with the Cardinals under Rick Pitino. The Jaspers forced opponents to turn the ball over on 21.8 percent of possessions, which ranked 18th in the country. Their adjusted defense was easily the best in the MAAC, and it ranked favorably against power conference schools, as well. According to KenPom, they played more efficient defense than Massachusetts, Kansas, UCLA, Memphis and Iowa State, just to name five teams.
Offensively, Manhattan puts defenses on their heels by playing at the 44th-quickest adjusted tempo. That has helped them get to the free throw line at the second-highest rate in the country. Beamon is a true slasher who can fill it up when he's playing at his best, and sophomore forward Shane Richards knocked down 42.1 percent of his three-point attempts this season. The Jaspers beat regular season MAAC champion Iona twice, including in the conference tournament championship game.
The Case Against:
As good as Manhattan is at taking the ball away from opponents, it turns it over at almost the same rate. The Jaspers' 19.7-percent offensive turnover rate ranked 266th in the country. On top of that, they don't shoot it very well from inside or outside the arc. Their team three-point percentage was 78th-best, and their two-point percentage was outside the top 150. They were able to make up for that with a strong offensive-rebounding rate, but they amassed that total against MAAC teams. It won't be quite as easy to clean up the offensive glass in the tournament.
While Manhattan does get to the line with extreme efficiency, it shot just 66.2 percent as a team from the stripe. Still, it got the 19th-highest percentage of its points off free throws in the country. That's a bad recipe for a team that isn't exactly made up of reliable free throw shooters. The Jaspers only played one top-50 team all year, George Washington, and lost. They also dropped three games to teams outside the top 150 in RPI.
SI prediction: Lose to Louisville in second roundView complete bracket predictions from SI.com's panel of experts