Texas-Arlington (Southland) at Texas Christian (C-USA)
Daniel-Meyer Coliseum - Fort Worth, TX
8:00 PM EST
We've been talking about UTA quite a bit so far this year, and with good reason. The Mavericks are exceeding all coaches' poll expectations, starting out 8-0 with nice wins at Wichita State and over fellow mid-major darling North Texas in a previous G!O!T!N!. Best-shooting team in the land at 53.2 percent, fifth-best field-goal defense at 35.9 percent... no wonder that they're winning their games by an average of 28.5 points. But if you need a face to put on this team, it's 6-9 senior Jermaine Griffin
, who's averaging 15.5 ppg at a positively insane 73.6 percent clip.
We generally don't concern ourselves with teams from conferences that built themselves up by poaching mid-major schools and promising they'd be on TV, but TCU (5-3) is a school that holds a special dark place in our hearts. TCU joined the WAC in 1995 after the old Southwest Conference split up, but was one of the airport defectors six years later when the Mountain West was formed. But that turned out not to be good enough for the school, so it jumped to Conference USA in 2005 (giving TCU the rare distinction of having been a member of both money conferences). It's sorta like those people who go from church to church until they find the gospel interpretation they want to hear. The official symbol of Texas Christian University shouldn't be the Horned Frog, it should be the Shopping Bag.
Anyhoo. Gameplan. This will be a wicked, fast back-and-forth battle that could end up in the 80's, or even the 90's -- both teams play really quick. I'd suggest heavy rotation and as much perimeter physicality as can be managed. Stop Henry Salter
, he's their best and most efficient scorer. They do crash the glass well and don't give the ball up... but they do shoot poorly overall, just 41.2 percent on average (261st in the country). But here are the stats that really matter: TCU has an athletic budget of $37 million and spends $3.6m of that on men's basketball. Arlington spends $667,000 on hoops out of its $6m coffers. That, right there, is what's going to make this sweet tonight, if and when it happens. And it probably will.TCU 77, UTARL 74 (OT)