Introducing Cinderella: Meet the Texas Southern Tigers

source: AP

Conference: SWAC

Coach: Mike Davis

Record: 21-12 (16-2 SWAC)

Rankings and ratings:

Kenpom: 82
RPI: 206
– AP/USA Today: Not ranked

Seeding: 16 seed

Names you need to know: Senior guard Madarious Gibbs (14.2 ppg, 4.3 apg, 3.4 rpg), junior guard Chris Thomas (12.6 ppg, 5 rpg, 1.7 apg), senior guard Deverell Biggs (11.5 ppg, 3 rpg, 2 apg).

Stats you need to know: Four players average double figures in points for the Tigers. They also challenged themselves extensively in the non-conference portion of the schedule and went 10-11 on the road and 2-0 in neutral site games. Texas Southern is a poor shooting team and only hit 32 percent of 3-pointers this season.

Tendencies: Texas Southern tends to push tempo against opponents in the SWAC, but they’ll try to maximize possessions at times against more talented opponents. With talented isolation players like Chris Thomas, the Tigers try to do a lot off the dribble since they only shot 32 percent from distance.

Big wins, bad losses: The Texas Southern overtime win at Michigan State was one of the bigger upsets of the early season and they also beat Kansas State. The Tigers also played Indiana, Tennessee, SMU, Baylor, Florida, Gonzaga, Auburn and talented mid-major teams like Eastern Washington and New Mexico State.

How’d they get here: The SWAC actually celebrated its automatic bid in the semifinals of the conference tournament since Texas Southern and Prairie View A&M were the only two postseason-eligible teams left. The Tigers bested the Panthers, 90-77, for the auto bid and beat Alcorn State, 95-74, to open the SWAC Tournament. Texas Southern still has to play Southern for the SWAC Tournament title on Saturday, but win or lose, they’ll still make the Big Dance.

Outlook: The Tigers have certainly challenged themselves in the non-conference portion of the season, they have a head coach who has been to a national championship game and a former five-star prospect at guard along with some other talented transfers. Texas Southern will likely get trounced in a 1-16 game, but this isn’t your typical 16 seed.

How do I know you?: Mike Davis should be well known to college basketball fans from his stints as head coach of Indiana and UAB. Junior guard Chris Thomas is a former five-star prospect who bounced around a bit before landing at Texas Southern. Senior guard Deverell Biggs played at Nebraska before transferring to Texas Southern for his final season. The Tigers also made the NCAA Tournament in 2014 and lost to Cal Poly in a First Four matchup.