After last year’s run by 15-seed St. Peter’s to the Elite Eight, it’s doubtful that a 2-seed like Texas will take a team like Colgate lightly. Especially if they get hot from behind the arc. With longtime tournament mainstay Syracuse nowhere to be found, the Raiders (who beat the Orange earlier this year) is upstate New York’s hope in this year’s tournament.
Colgate Raiders (26-8)
Colgate (26-8, 1st Patriot League) earned the mid-major conference’s automatic berth for the fourth consecutive season (not counting 2020). As a 15-seed in 2019 and a 14-seed last year, they lost by just seven points. That’s because the Raiders can shoot the ball from 3-point territory. Their 41% shooting percentage from long distance is the best in the country. The Raiders find themselves 13.5-point underdogs against the Longhorns.
Colgate, led by senior point guard Tucker Richardson’s 14 points and six assists per game, had just two losses by double-digits all season: at Penn and at Auburn. Besides losing to the Tigers, their other power-5 matchup this year was an 80-68 win at Syracuse.
Texas (26-8, 2nd in Big 12) comes in on a major roll, having defeated Kansas in Austin in the final regular season game of the year and then rolled through the Jayhawks in the finals of the Big 12 Tournament on Saturday, 75-66. The Jayhawks were without head coach Bill Self for medical reasons, but still–a 20-point thumping of the defending national champions and Big 12 regular-season champs isn’t anything to downplay. As a result, Texas is a strong 2-seed and legit national title contender at +2000.
The team has rallied around interim coach Rodney Terry, who took over for Chris Beard in December. Marcus Carr and the rest of the Longhorns can match Colgate from 3-point land, as the Longhorns shot 37% from long range for the last few weeks of the season.
Texas played in the country’s most difficult league, and it showed when they lost their last five road games. They turned things around, however, by winning the Big 12 tournament on a neutral floor. Texas is playing tremendous defense in its four-game winning streak, not allowing a team to score over 60 points against it. This will be bad news for a Colgate team that relies on the 3-point shot.