The No. 7 seed in the Southland Conference tournament, Texas-San Antonio didn't even have a resume comparable to that of a CBI team heading into postseason play. The Roadrunners were 7-8 by mid-January, hit 13-12 by mid-February, and then ended the regular season at 16-13. Move along, nothing special to see here. Most glaring of all, UTSA's best non-conference victory came against San Jose State, a team that finished eighth in the WAC, all the way back in November.
Texas-San Antonio's improbable run offers yet another example of the beauty of conference tournaments. This is a group that defied the odds to punch its ticket, and never would have sniffed this opportunity if auto-bids were blindly awarded to regular season champs. But can they do it again?
A breakdown after the jump...
Location: San Antonio, Texas
Record: 19-13 (9-7)
Leading scorers: Jeromie Hill (13.6)(17.0 ppg); (14.8);
What to know:
- Youth - Gibson is the only senior on the roster, meaning a huge chunk of the minutes this postseason will go to underclassmen. Along with Johnson (So.) and Hill (Fr.) in the starting lineup, the Roadrunners count on three true freshmen off the bench, and that can be a recipe for disaster. How will these youngsters react to the bright lights of March? Will it force Gibson to shoulder a larger offensive load than he's capable of?
- Fouls - It's pretty startling that UTSA has five players in its rotation who would foul out if they were forced to play an entire 40-minute basketball game. Hack masters Alex Vouyoukas and T.J. Williams own two of the most inflated foul percentages in the country at 8.6 and 8.1 respectively, and neither guy can play for long stretches. Heck, Williams might not even suit up this week due to a bad knee. But its not just the big men who are getting hit with calls here. The team's top three scorers each average around three fouls per game, and there really isn't anyone on the roster who ever legitimately avoids foul trouble.
- All Comes Down To Hill - Here's your x-factor. A 6'8", 230lb freshman from Australia, Jeromie Hill is on a four-game hot streak: 18.3 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.8 three-pointers, 35.0 minutes, 60.9% FGs, 84.6% 3Ps! More of a rebounding presence during the regular season, his newly-acquired scoring prowess will be essential as opponents look to take the ball out of Gibson's hands. Hill's perimeter ability is quite rare for a guy his size, so don't be surprised if an opponent is forced to use a smaller player on him to keep him contained.
Seed/Outlook: #16. As expected, the Roadrunners were unable to avoid a play-in game. Getting Arkansas State to kick things off is not a bad draw at all though, as they are widely considered to be the worst team in the field. Ken Pomeroy gives UTSA a 74% chance at victory, so we'll go ahead and do the same. Bring on Ohio State!
Know Your Small Conference Winners