I mean no offense to these teams. There has been a 15-seed upset before, but Lipscomb is not that team. There’s yet to be a 1-seed to lose to a 16-seed, and Xavier and Virginia are not those teams.
With that said, let’s make sure we spend plenty of words talking about their opponents while we have the chance to do so.
Lipscomb is making their first ever tourney appearance. On the year, the Bison went 23-9 with a 10-4 record out of the Atlantic Sun Conference.
The A-Sun champs do come into this game hot, winning eight straight to end the year. Their offense ignited this streak, averaging 86.6 PPG during the streak. They went 0-4 against teams in the field losing by an average of margin of 24 points to the likes of Purdue, Alabama, Tennessee, and Texas.
It should be noted the Bison lost to Tennessee by only 10 and even got to within 3 points in the middle of the 2nd half. A player to watch on the Bison is Garrison Mathews, who averages 22.1 PPG and 5.5 RPG while shooting 38.9% from downtown.
UMBC is making their first tournament appearance since 2007-08 when they lost in the first round to Georgetown as a 15 seed 66-47. The Retrievers went 24-10 on the year with a 12-4 mark out of America East.
They upset Vermont – who went 27-8 and 15-1 in conference play and lost to St. Bonaventure and Kentucky by a combined six points – in the America East title game.
Some non conference opponents of note include Maryland and Arizona who they lost to by an average margin of 23 points. Guard Jarius Lyles leads the charge for the Retrievers, averaging 20.2 PPG and 5.6 RPG while shooting 38.7 percent from long range.
Texas Southern is very experienced with Mike Davis at the helm and went 0-13 in non-conference with a slate that included their first six games at Gonzaga, at Washington State, at Ohio State, at Syracuse, At Kansas, and at Clemson.
They lost their non-conference games by an average margin of 16 points. They went 12-6 in the SWAC to make up for their nightmare start and defeated a NC Central team that is considered one of the elite programs in the HBCU ranks.
They come into the Xavier game with a 16-19 mark. This is their ninth tournament appearance and their IRS tournament win wasn’t their victory over NC Central. An intriguing player on the Tigers is their 5’7″ guard Damontrae Jefferson who averaged 23.0 PPG and shot 39.5 percent from beyond the arc.