Only undefeated Wichita State has a longer winning streak this season than the 28-game run that the Lumberjacks
will carry into the NCAAs. (Bob Levey/AP)
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: 31-2, 18-0 in the Southland
Adjusted offense / Adjusted defense: 111.8 (45th) / 100.6 (89th)
Seed: No. 12 in South
Impact player: Jacob Parker, junior forward, 14.2 points, 7.1 rebounds per game, 54.2 percent shooting.
The Case For:
Start with the 28 consecutive wins. That's an eye-opening number in any league and has many considering the Lumberjacks to be this year's version of Florida-Gulf Coast, primed to blow up the bracket.
There's more for any tournament opponent to be concerned about than just the win streak, however. Stephen F. Austin is a dangerous offensive team, with an effective field goal percentage of 52.7, a figure that rates just outside the top 50 nationally. Four players average between 12 and 14.3 points per game, and the Lumberjacks share the ball impeccably: Their 547 total assists rank eighth in the country and their assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.49 rates 11th overall.
There's also no shortage of toughness. The Lumberjacks' rebound percentage of 54.9 ranks seventh nationally, and their 429 total offensive rebounds ranks 27th. That relentlessness suggests they can stand up to a higher seed's physicality or superior talent, and when that happens, frustration could set in for the favored team. It's not necessarily what Stephen F. Austin is counting on, though. The Lumberjacks are just good.
The Case Against:
Whether or not the Lumberjacks could even schedule big-name teams to take a crack at quality wins, the fact remains that they don't have a defining win on their resume. In fact, their most resonant game is a 10-point loss to Texas on Nov. 15, a game in which they had a chance to win late before the Longhorns pulled away with free throws.
Though the Lumberjacks hit the boards well, they could give up some size, as Tanner Clayton is the only rotation player at 6-foot-9 or taller -- and he plays 14.3 minutes per game. And Stephen F. Austin will have to adjust to the officials as much as any team in the field. The Lumberjacks foul a lot, with 691 infractions on the season, 30th nationally. Their defensive free throw rate -- the opponents' number of free throw attempts per field goal attempt -- is .529, 15th worst nationally.
They're not heavily reliant on the three-point shot -- just 35.8 percent of their attempts come from long distance – and not all that good at it either, making 34.8 percent. That suggests Stephen F. Austin better not play from behind, because it isn't likely to throw the haymakers that will get it back in the game.
SI prediction: Beat VCU in second round, lose to UCLA in third round
View complete bracket predictions from SI.com's panel of experts