AUSTIN (KXAN) – No college basketball team is safe when the calendar flips to March. The Texas men’s basketball team is playing outstanding, heading into the NCAA Tournament fresh off a Big 12 Tournament Championship.
The Longhorns earned a No. 2 seed after impressing in the country’s toughest conference: the Big 12. Their opponent is Colgate, winners of the Patriot League and No. 15 seed in the Midwest region.
While this may be the first time many fans have heard of Colgate, the program is no stranger to the NCAA Tournament. Four straight men’s NCAA Tournaments (no tournament in 2020) have featured the Raiders representing the Patriot League.
What threat does Colgate pose?
The last time Colgate was a 15-seed was in the 2019 tournament when they faced off against a Rick Barnes-led Tennessee squad. The Raiders played the Volunteers extremely tough, falling by just seven points.
The Raiders have played two other ‘Power Six’ conference opponents in Syracuse and Auburn this season. Colgate beat Syracuse on the road but fell to Auburn.
Colgate cruised their way to a one seed in the Patriot League Conference Tournament, losing just one game against league competition in the regular season. The Raiders rolled in each three games of the tournament, winning by at least 17 points in each.
Like Texas, Colgate is a veteran team with four of their regular starters being seniors. Tucker Richardson is their leading scorer with just under 14 points a game, but all five regular starters average in double figures.
The Raiders can put up a lot of points, ranking 31st in the nation in scoring offense. Specifically from distance, Colgate is efficient, shooting over 40% from 3-point range — the best in the country.
Kryptonite for Colgate can be from the charity stripe. The Raiders rank 327th in the country shooting under 66% from the free-throw line.
Can a 15 seed beat a 2 seed?
Yes. Need proof? Check out the last two tournaments. Last year, 15th-seeded Saint Peters not only beat Kentucky in the opening round, but advanced all the way to the Elite Eight. The year before, Oral Roberts made it to the Sweet 16 as a 15-seed.
Saint Peter’s winning in 2022 was the 10th time a 15-seed beat a two-seed. Only one year had two 15 seeds advance out of the first round. That was back in 2012 with both Lehigh and Norfolk State springing upsets.
Texas enters the showdown as a 14-point favorite according to DraftKings Sportsbook. The Raiders and Longhorns will tip at 6:25 p.m. Thursday in Des Moines.