INTRODUCING CINDERELLA: Meet the Cal State Bakersfield Roadrunners

(AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

Conference: WAC

Coach: Rod Barnes

Record: 24-8, 11-3

Ratings and Rankings:

Kenpom: 95
RPI: 138
AP/USA Today: N/A

Seeding: Bakersfield isn’t going to end up with a seed that’s strong enough to give them a real shot at pulling off an upset, but they may be able to avoid the 16-seed line.

Names you need to know: Bakersfield has five guys that average double-figures this season, which may strike you as odd considering how defensive-minded they are. Aly Ahmed is the star, but it was Dedrick Basile that hit the shot that sent them to the tournament.

Stats you need to know: The Roadrunners are 25th in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency metric, which is really impressive given the schedule that they’ve played. In terms of their raw defensive points-per-possession numbers, they’re fourth nationally. They can lock up.

Big wins, bad losses: CSU-Bakersfield didn’t land any wins this season that were all that notable, but they did pick off Grand Canyon — a top 100 RPI team — once and they beat New Mexico State — who only lost once in league play — in the league title game.

How’d they get here?: The Roadrunners finished tied for second in the WAC, rolling through the league tournament and eventually picking off league champ NMSU in the title game thanks to this buzzer-beating, bid-clinching three.

Outlook: Bakersfield is one of those teams that is going to be annoying to get matched up with in the first round. They can really get after you defensively, and those teams can be dangerous in the tournament. Get someone frustrated, get them out of a rhythm and get hot offensively, and suddenly Bakersfield is in a close game with a No. 2 seed with five minutes left. I’m not saying to pick them in your bracket, but I am saying that this is the kind of team that could throw a scare into someone.

How do I know you?: You probably don’t, because Cal State Bakersfield has never been to the NCAA tournament before. So good for them.