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: 13-19, 6-10 in Big West
Adjusted offense / Adjusted defense: 197th/164th
Seed: No. 16 in Midwest (First Four)
Impact player: Chris Eversley, senior forward. 13.6 ppg, 7.1 rpg
The Case For:
The Mustangs are playing arguably their best basketball of the season, with the win streak that constituted their Big West tournament run matching their three-game streak from mid-January as their longest of the season. Though Cal Poly does not shoot the ball particularly well, shooting can be a fickle thing, and it does at least give itself a lot of opportunities by taking care of the ball: Its offensive turnover percentage is 31st in the country. Guard Kyle Odister is their leading three-point shooter at 37 percent, and he’s clearly unafraid of the big stage, as his season-high 21 points came when he hit 7-of-14 three-pointers at Arizona in November. Also worth noting is that the Mustangs only lost that game by 11. Considering how daunting it is to play a true road game against an elite team like the Wildcats, keeping it respectable is a relative accomplishment. The Mustangs also play at one of the nation’s slowest tempos, meaning they will play the low-possession games conducive to surprising results.
The Case Against:
A team that goes 6-10 in the Big West is not the most attractive candidate for a miracle. The Mustangs are not particularly big and are an inaccurate shooting team (33.5 percent from beyond the arc and 44.2 percent inside of it, the latter of which is in the nation’s bottom 30). The lone true strength of their offense is taking care of the ball, which may not hold up against stiffer competition and in their highest-pressure playing conditions yet. Simply put, for all the same reasons they struggled in the Big West, they do not look like the kind of team that can orchestrate the kind of shocker no 16 seed ever has before.
SI prediction: Lose to Texas Southern in the First FourView complete bracket predictions from SI.com’s panel of experts