By Andy Mac Williams, 3/15/2018

The National media keeps harping on Texas Southern's 0-13 start to the season. The Tigers are now the first sub .500 team(16-19) to win an NCAA D-1 Tournament game. They clobbered North Carolina Central 64-46 in a First Four play-in game at UD Arena Wednesday evening. TSU(#16 Seed) plays #1 Seed Xavier Friday night in Nashville(7:15PM-EDT on TBS). KenPom picks XU 93-73 and gives Texas Southern a 3% chance of winning. Las Vegas favors the Muskies by 21 points.

The Tigers are not newbies-blinded by the glare and glitz of March Madness. 57 year old Mike Davis has coached successfully at Indiana(followed Bobby Knight) and UAB. That string of impossible early road games(at Gonzaga, at Ohio State, at Kansas, at Baylor etc. etc. ) raised a ton of money to pay Davis's salary and fund TSU athletics. Heck-the Tigers almost beat Clemson(84-77) and Toledo(71-69).

Davis recruits a ton of transfers with the goal every year to win the SWAC Tournament and grab that automatic NCAA bid. The strategy worked in 2014, 2015, 2017(lost last March in the First Round to National Champ North Carolina 103-64). Now the Tigers have their first NCAA victory. Hopefully,that will suffice as their One Shinning Moment.

TSU is very creative. They rented their home arena to the University of Houston this season while the AAC Cougar's building was being renovated. UC played Houston on TSU's home floor.


The Tigers are pretty much run and gun and straight-up man to man defense. Coach Davis attracts top transfers by playing a fun up tempo simple style. TSU scores 78PPG. They give up 80. Top player is 5-7 PG Trae Jefferson(8th in NCAA scoring at 23.4PPG-4.5 assists-3 rebounds). He can drive it and he shoots 40% from "three". Jefferson apparently is a "handful" on the court and off with multiple suspensions. He's sat out 9 games. Trae played brilliantly in the blow-out win over UNCC(25 points-8 rebounds).

UMass grad transfer Donte Clark is a well built veteran 2 guard-small forward (6-4 195)(18.6PPG-5 rebounds). He's very strong off the dribble. 6-3 Junior Derrick Bruce is a sharp shooting wing(14PPG).

The wild card is 7-2 240 pound Center Trayvon Reed who started at Maryland-transferred to Auburn in a slick Bruce Pearl manipulation and actually played against XU at Auburn three years ago. I think he went JUCO for a while and now has re-emerged at TSU?? Reed can play when motivated. He's been in and out of the Tiger's line-up(10PPG-3.5 blocks-9 rebounds). Reed was a force against UNCC(6 blocked shots).

TSU draws fouls and makes FTs. They've won 8 games in a row averaging over 90PPG in the process. Their 222 RPI is better than your average #16 Seed and their top talent is very good.

XU should win this with better depth and size and organization, but if the 5-7 PG goes off for 30 plus points and 7 footer Reed has an uncommonly dominant 30 minute showing, TSU could hang around.

There's a reason #1 Seeds are 128-0 against #16 Seeds since 1985 and Xavier will play true to form. Chris Mack Muskie teams have lost in their first NCAA games(2011 to Marquette-2014 to NC State) but to Texas Southern ??? I don't think so.

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