NCAA tournament team previews: Oklahoma State Cowboys
As part of its preview of the 2015 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. All stats are through Monday, March 16.
Record: 18-13 (8-10 Big 12)
Adjusted offensive/defensive efficiency: 109.4 (49th)/96.2 (58th)
Seed: West No. 9
Impact Player: Le'Bryan Nash, Senior, Guard/Forward, 17.1 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 99.0 offensive rating
The Case For: Oklahoma State is the poster child of why the Big 12 has been the most brutal conference in the country this season. The Cowboys finished in a tie for sixth place, didn't finish .500 in the conference and never really had to worry about its NCAA future.
Outside of Nash, there aren't a whole lot of famous faces on Travis Ford's roster—unlike last season—but this is a battle-tested group. They played the 10th toughest schedule in the country this year, winning neutral-court contests against Oregon State, Tulsa and Missouri. Murderer's row, it's not, but it should count for something. But there is some serious determination in this squad, and it was on display in the three-game stretch in early February when the Cowboys beat Texas, Kansas and Baylor in a row.
The Case Against: One of the main reasons for Oklahoma State's inclusion into the field with some iffy win-loss records is also the main reason this team might not be long for the tournament. The Big 12 has been a meat-grinder all year long and you can see the toll it's taken on Oklahoma State in the last four weeks. Since Feb. 14, this team has limped — badly — to the finish line.
After those three straight terrific wins, it lost four in a row and six of its last seven games. Normally you want to see teams trending upward as the NCAAs begin, but this squad is going in the opposite direction. Plus, this isn't a deep team. Only five players average more than 20 minutes a game for the season for Ford, with three others contributing minutes, but not much more beyond that.
SI Prediction: Lose to Oregon in the Round of 64