Albany ran the American East conference tournament and now have a date with a Duke team coming off a demoralizing loss to Maryland. So the Great Danes totally have a chance in the Round of 64, right? Well...
I could take the realistic approach to this preview, dismissing Albany's chances in the first two paragraphs.
Instead, let's look at this game and weasel out a way to feel good about picking Albany in our 17th bracket (because we know you have one).
For starters, while a large emphasis will be placed on Mason Plumlee's (admittedly great) inside game, the Blue Devils only average 0.2 more rebounds per game than the Great Danes. The onus will be on the entire Albany team to get their boards in this game, but especially sophomore forward Sam Rowley, who scored 19 points and grabbed eight rebounds in a game against Maine just 10 days ago.
Rowley knows he has it in him to bang out a gigantic game inside and on the glass; if he can conjure that power in the face of huge pressure against an elite program like Duke, he'll be the linchpin against the Blue Devils.
Moving along, both teams have five players averaging more than 5.0 points per game. Sure, Duke has five players in double-digits compared to Albany's two, and maybe the Blue Devils have two 17 points scorers versus the Great Danes' zero.
But when it all comes down to it, they each have five players scoring more than 5.0 points per game, which is, by definition, as even as it gets.
Unfortunately, coming back to reality for a little bit, Duke's offensive efficiency and power is absolutely intimidating.
Unless Mason Plumlee suffers an early injury, Ryan Kelly gets lost on the way to the Wells Fargo Arena, and Seth Curry leaves early for the NBA Draft (it's what the cool kids do!), the Blue Devils' fourth-rated offense will flatten the Great Dane's 134-rated defense KenPom.com rankings both). They simply have too much talent on the offensive end, and strong defense to boot.
However, if you enjoy mid-majors as much as we do, you can always hold on to my first two factors of the game. It wouldn't be March Madness without a Cinderella story. Why not Albany?