Introducing Cinderella: Texas Southern heading to third tournament in four years


Conference: Southwestern Athletic Conference

Coach: Mike Davis (Texas Southern)

Record: 24-11 (16-2)

Ratings and Rankings:

Kenpom: 205
RPI: 120
AP/USA Today: N/A

Seeding: With champions from the MEAC, Big Sky, Big West and Southland all with inferior RPIs compared to Texas Southern, it’s likely that the Tigers will avoid Dayton and the No. 16 line all together. Entering the day, NBC Sports latest bracket projected the Tigers to be a No. 15 seed, squaring off with Duke.

Names you need to know: Zach Lofton is the team’s leading scorer at 17.4 points per game. Demontrae Jefferson, the diminutive freshman floor general, is a human-highlight reel and 7-foot-1 Marvin Jones is the conference’s defensive player of the year.

Stats you need to know: The Tigers don’t shoot the ball well from deep. In fact, both of their top scorers are sub-30 percent shooters from distance. Texas Southern likes to get to the line where a quarter of its points comes from. As a team, the Tigers shoot at a 74 percent clip.

Big wins, bad losses: Best wins would technically be back-to-back road wins at Rice and La Salle in November. Assuming TCU hears its name called on Selection Sunday, the Tigers have lost to five NCAA Tournament teams (Arizona, Louisville, Cincinnati, TCU and Baylor) by an average margin of 30.8 points. Texas Southern also lost in overtime to Mississippi Valley State (7-25). It was the Tigers first of two conference loses to teams with losing records.

How’d they get here?: Aside from a few slip ups in conference play and a few close calls against Alcorn State, it was another impressive year in the SWAC for the Tigers. Texas Southern actually clinched its tournament berth after a semifinal win over Grambling State because Alcorn State, the other SWAC finalist, was ruled ineligible for the NCAA Tournament.

Outlook: Not great. If Texas Southern’s non-conference performance against a handful of tournament teams is any indication of what’s to come, Mike Davis and Co. will be one-and-done.

How do I know you?: Mike Davis, in his fifth season at Texas Southern, took Indiana to the 2002 national championship game. It’s the third time the Tigers have reached the NCAA Tournament during his tenure.

Also, Trae Jefferson YouTube mixtapes. Enjoy.