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.
Record: 26–7 (12–4 Summit League)
Adjusted offensive/defensive efficiency: 109.1 (79th)/100.5 (108th)
Impact Player: Mike Daum, freshman, forward. 15.2 ppg, 6.1 rpg
The Case For: The Jackrabbits are on a roll. They capped the program’s sixth straight win—and 12th in their last 14—by upending North Dakota State, 67–59, for the Summit League tournament title. Forward Mike Daum, the league’s Sixth Man of the Year and tournament MVP, is the most prominent weapon on South Dakota State’s offense. The redshirt freshman chipped in 18 points and nine boards in the Summit League title game. The 6'9", 230-pound Daum could be a matchup problem on the perimeter, where he knocked down 27 of his 60 three-point attempts this season at a crisp 45.0% clip.
Despite Daum’s imposing presence, balance remains key to coach Scott Nagy’s offense. Daum and guards Deondre Parks and George Marshall team up to average between 15.2 and 14.7 points apiece. South Dakota State can rely on that efficient offense to hang with most opponents. It finished the year with the best turnover percentage (17.1) and offensive rebounding percentage (32.4) in the Summit League. Moreover, the Jackrabbits make opponents pay at the free throw line, where they hit 74.2% of their shots, 35th nationally. But Daum and company know a thing or two about defense, as well, as they led the league in opponent field goal percentage (41.6) this season.
The Case Against: Like most mid-major seeds, the Jackrabbits haven’t been tested against top-tier tournament competition. Their best win came on Dec. 13 against UC Santa Barbara, which ranks No. 92 in the countr,y per kenpom.com. South Dakota State’s other 25 wins came against sub-100 opponents; meanwhile, it lost to the highest-rated team on its schedule in Texas Tech (No. 43). In that game the Red Raiders forced the Jackrabbits into an uncharacteristic 20 turnovers.
While South Dakota State normally keeps its miscues to a minimum, it struggles to force its opponents into many mistakes. The program ranks 246th nationally in opponents’ turnover percentage (17.1), and in the Summit League title game, North Dakota State coughed up just two more turnovers (nine) than South Dakota State. That normally stingy defense won’t get far in the NCAA tournament if more battle-tested opponents maintain their composure on offense.
SI Prediction: Beat Maryland in the first round; lose to California in the second round.