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: 20–11 (12–6 AAC)
Adjusted offensive/defensive efficiency: 110.8 (53rd)/99.7 (84th)
Seed: 3 in South
Impact player: Shaquille Harrison, senior guard 14.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 4.1 apg
The Case For: Tulsa boasts a veteran backcourt duo senior James Woodard, the team’s leading scorer at 15.6 points per game, and Harrison. In fact, the Golden Hurricane’s best attribute is its experience—it is No. 1 in the country in that category and No. 7 in minutes continuity from last season. This isn’t a patchwork roster—these guys know how to play together. As you’d expect from a veteran roster, Tulsa commits very few mistakes—it is 27th in offensive turnover percentage—and 91st in FTA/FGA.
Harrison is a threat all over the court, from his 26.8% assist rate to 3.4 steal percentage. He is the kind of guard that a team can rally around in the Big Dance.
The Case Against: There’s a reason that Tulsa’s inclusion in the field was criticized. The Golden Hurricane lost three times this season to teams with RPI rankings south of 140, including twice to Memphis in its last three contests. They didn’t show any ability to win consistently on the road, finishing the year 8–7 outside the Reynolds Center.
Tulsa’s best attribute is turnover-avoidance, but that ability alone doesn’t make up for its many shortcomings. The Golden Hurricane are 250th in the country in three-point percentage and 261st in free-throw percentage. They struggle to rebound on both ends of the floor and their lack of length (No. 243 in adjusted height) will be a major roadblock to a tournament run
SI Prediction: Lose to Michigan in the First Four