Introducing Cinderella: Texas Southern makes the field for fourth time in six years

(Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)
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Conference: SWAC

Coach: Mike Davis

Record: 15-19, 12-6 (third in SWAC)

Rankings and Ratings:

– Kenpom: 255
– RPI: 231
– AP/USA TODAY: Not ranked

Seeding: Since Texas Southern is under .500, they’re basically guaranteed to go to Dayton as a No. 16 seed in the First Four.

Names you need to know: Sophomore point guard Damontrae Jefferson is one of the most exciting players to watch in the entire field. The 5-foot-7 ball of energy is an undersized scoring machine (23.7 ppg) and he’s perfectly suited to run the uptempo Texas Southern offense. Senior guard Donte Clark, junior guard Derrick Bruce and senior wing Kevin Scott are also double-figure scorers.

Stats you need to know: Texas Southern played the toughest non-conference strength of schedule in the country as they started the season 0-13 — playing tough competition on the road the entire time. The Tigers didn’t play their first home game until Jan. 1. Also the No. 28 team in the country in adjusted tempo, according to KenPom, the Tigers love to get up and down the floor and make games a track meet.

Big wins, bad losses:  The ridiculous stretch to start the season gave Texas Southern games against NCAA tournament teams like Gonzaga, Ohio State and Clemson as they’ve played a lot of quality teams.

How’d they get here?: Texas Southern is in the midst of a seven-game winning streak entering the 2018 NCAA tournament. The Tigers knocked off Prairie View A&M and Arkansas Pine-Bluff.

Outlook: Texas Southern is a surprisingly fun No. 16 seed to watch because of its unique star power and uptempo style. The 0-13 record to start the year also speaks for itself. There’s a chance the Tigers get a win over another No. 16 seed in Dayton but that would be it.

How do I know you?: This is the fourth time Texas Southern has made the NCAA tournament in six years under head coach Mike Davis — an impressive stretch for a one-bid league. Davis should also be familiar from his time coaching Indiana and UAB as he took the Hoosiers to the national title game in 2002.