NCAA Tournament Profile: Lipscomb Bisons (23-9) – Atlantic Sun – 0
The last time the Lipscomb Bisons made the NCAA Tournament was never. Meaning, they have a lot to live up to. The Bisons are too good to play in the First Four game in Dayton. However, based on recent seasons, they might be one of the candidates to face another 16-seed next week. It all depends on how the rest of the Conference Championship games pan out. However, if the Bisons are under seeded, there could be a major shakeup in the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament. The Atlantic Sun has had two of the most memorable Round of 64 upsets in the past 10 years. First, the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles defeated the Georgetown Hoyas as a No. 15 seed in 2013. The Eagles are the only No. 15 seed to make a trip to the Sweet 16. Then, the Mercer Bears knocked off the Duke Blue Devils as a No. 14 seed in 2014. Meaning, the Bisons have a lot to live up to, especially if they aren’t a No. 16 seed.
Head Coach: Casey Alexander- (108-111) record in seven seasons as a head coach. Alexander began his career at Stetson. After two seasons, he accepted the head coaching job with the Bisons. This is their second consecutive winning season.
How They Got Here: The Bisons earned the No. 2 seed in the Atlantic Sun. They won three games to earn the Automatic bid. All three wins were by double figures, including a 12-point win over the FGCU Eagles on their home court.
Streak: 8 Games. The Bisons longest winning streak of the season is eight games. It just so happens those eight wins came at the end of the season to help win the A-Sun title. Moreover, the Bisons defeated the Eagles twice within a three-week span. Therefore, they have really earned this Atlantic Sun title with their performance on the court.
Best Player: Garrison Matthews- Guard: Matthews leads the Bisons with 22 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. He can shoot the ball from deep. That explains his 39 percentage rate from beyond the arc. Matthews only attempts 13.9 shots per game and 7.2 of those attempts are from 3-point range. However, he made 7-of-14 3-point attempts in the A-Sun final. As long as he doesn’t settle for long jump shots, the Bisons will be a well-balanced offensive team. Matthews leads the team with 7.8 foul shots per game. Meaning, he uses his physicality in a great way going to the hoop. He scored a career high 43 points this season. Furthermore, Matthews produced seven games over 30 points in his career. He scored between 25 and 29 points in 16 additional games. Therefore, Matthews had 23 games with at least 25 points and he’s only a junior. In fact, 12 of those 23 games came this season. He needs to explode so the college basketball world can see his prolific scoring ability. Three teams held Matthews to single digits this year. The Bisons won all three games.
Most Important Player: Kenny Cooper- Guard: Usually, when a team has a prolific offense the team needs a point guard that can handle the pressure. Nathan Moran was supposed to be the starting point guard for his senior season. However, injury kept him out for the 2017-18 season. Instead, the Bisons had to turn the keys over to Kenny Cooper to run the show. Cooper’s promotion to starting point guard also meant the Bisons no longer had a backup point guard. It was never more evident than when Cooper picked up his fourth foul early in the second half of the A-Sun final. Cooper had one turnover during the game. The rest of the team turned the ball over 17 times. In fact, the Bison cough up 15 turnovers per game. Cooper must be on the court to settle his team down in critical situations.
Fun Factor: Whoa, do the Bisons play an exciting brand of basketball. They have the No. 23 scoring team in the country at 82.6 points per game. They shoot 24.5 3-pointers per game, so if the shots are falling, they will bombard an opponent. They also take 37.2 2-pointers per game. That means the Bison rarely settle for bad shots in their fast paced game. More importantly, the Bisons average 15.7 assists per game. They like to share the ball and that always makes for a fun game. With their turnover problems, you never know what may happen in the open court. In the end, the Bisons are outscoring opponents by 5.1 points per game.
Upset Factor (1-10): 5. This really depends on where the Bisons are seeded. Every fan of the NCAA Tournament knows that a 16-seed has never defeated a No. 1 seed. If the Bisons were a No. 14 seed, they’d have a legitimate chance to move into the Round of 32. However, they lost all four games against Power 5 schools by double digits. Their closest loss was to the Tennessee Volunteers by 10 points. Their biggest margin of defeat was a 32-point game to the Purdue Boilermakers.