Our first round opponent in the 2008 NCAA Tournament is the Portland State Vikings. Here is everything you ever wanted to know about the largest public school in all of Oregon.
Yes, Portland State University has more people enrolled (18,012 according wikipedia) than either Oregon or Oregon State, a statistic I would have never guessed in a million years were it not spoon-fed to me by the ESPNU Bracketology crew.
They are in the Big Sky Conference, along with 8 other schools for almost all sports, but actually belong in the Pac 10 for wrestling. Crazy stuff happens with these small conferences and the non-money-maker sports. That was a mouthful, to say the least.
Moving on to the football program, they last made a bowl way back in 1965. However, they have made large strides in gaining national attention with their recent hiring of Jerry Glanville prior to the 2007 football season. And while the football team labored to a traditional 3-8 record, they figure to be headed in the correct direction.
So, with the basketball team making its first ever NCAA Tournament and the football team seemingly making large strides under the direction of former NFL head honcho Jerry Glanville, one could make a legit argument that this is the best stretch of Portland State athletics of all time. However, let's move past all of the essentials you don't necessarily "need" to know, and move on to more important matters. Like, say, some pretty important statistics.
To start things off, most of these statistics can be found at KenPom's breakdown of the Portland State Viks.
They have a pretty poor RPI of 90, although poor is a completely relative word. Compared to their Big Sky counterparts, they did fantastic, considering the second best RPI in conference is the 139 of Northern Arizona. Their schedule consisted of four 'good' teams, two of them in IUPUI and Akron who were defeated by the Viks in the Great Alaska Shootout. However, they closed their trip in Fairbanks with an embarrassing loss to Colorado State, and the only other 'good' teams they played were Cal State Fullerton in BracketBusters, and the Pac 10 bottom-feeder Washington Huskies. They lost both of those games, just as they did against the only top-level competition they faced this season; their season opener against the UCLA Bruins and a December 9th contest against Washington State. And while they were played way back in November and December, they provide the only competition the Viks played this season comparable to the Jayhawks. And in all actuality, we are in a completely different ballpark than Wazzu, so the UCLA matchup is the most important for Kansas fans to look at.
Well, maybe. Again, this took place way back November 9th, a time where the Republican nomination was still up in the air, the Chiefs still had a chance to compete for a playoff spot and Lawrence was still a football town. Still, they were held to a stifled 35% shooting from the field, and were blown out 69-48.
Finally, let's move beyond the schedule and look at the team statistics. They are better with the ball in their hands, ranking 46th in offensive efficiency and only 140th in defensive efficiency. They are excellent from behind the arc, a key component of any potential BracketBuster, ranking 10th in the entire country with a 40% average from behind the three-point line. However, they are pretty horrible on defense, ranking 213th in defensive two-point FG%.
More on the players tomorrow, along with matchups and some wrap-up stuff before Thursday morning's contest.