In the 13th installment of our 20ish-part series, Get to Know an Auto-Bid, we examine the Texas Southern Tigers.
Texas Southern clinched their seventh trip to the tournament with a 53-50 victory over the No. 2 seed Alcorn State. Technically, they would have earned a bid win or lose because Alcorn State was ineligible for postseason play due to a poor APR – they don’t school good.
TSU finished with a 22-11 overall record and a 16-2 mark in the SWAC. The Tigers won the regular season crown by three games and has been the premiere program in the conference for most of the last five years.
Texas Southern has made the tournament in three of the last four years. They were a 15-seed in their last appearance in 2015 and were defeated by Arizona.
The Tigers are coached by former Indiana coach Mike Davis. Davis has turned the Tigers into one of the more consistent mid-major programs in the country.
As mentioned in the NCCU feature, many of the schools in SWAC also play a brutal non-conference schedules in order to help fund the athletic department. There’s no better example of this plight than Texas Southern’s non-conference slate.
The Tigers, who are a quality mid-major program, played zero home games in the non-conference schedule. This isn’t some bottom-feeder, this is a tournament team year and year out and they still have to resort to these types of tactics to earn revenue.
Many of those road games were against some of the elite programs in the country like Arizona, Baylor, Louisville, and Cincinnati. When teams face a gauntlet like that, they have no chance, but it is a necessary evil in the modern collegiate system that is so fueled by finances.
Arkansas Pine-Bluff, Southern, and Alcorn State are the only SWAC teams to win any NCAA Tournament games and most of those victories game in play-in situations. TSU would like to change that next week.
In total, Texas Southern started out the season with 16 straight road games and did not have a home game until January 14.
To their credit, the Tigers managed four non-conference wins, but they they found their mojo once conference season kicked into full swing. TSU finished strong as the Tigers have won nine straigh heading into the postseason and have scored at least 74 points in seven of their final nine contests.
Zach Lofton leads the Tigers with 17.4 points per game, while Derrick Griffin averages a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds per game.
The Otter Room official bracket projections have Texas Southern slated for a 16-seed, but they could move up to a 15 depending on how the remaining conference championship games shake out.