Game Time: 6:00pm CST | Location: Ed and Rae Schollmaier Arena - Fort Worth, TX | TV: ESPN2 | Series: First Meeting | Game Line: TCU -7.5
After taking down the top-seeded team in their part of the bracket, TCU is now one win away from getting to the NIT Semifinals at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The Frogs are now back home and will host the Richmond Spiders from the Atlantic 10 Conference tonight.
In the First Round of the NIT, TCU hosted Fresno State and was able to come away with a 66-59 victory. The Frogs only trailed for a brief 23 seconds in that game and seemed to have the upper hand all night despite some sloppy play. The Frogs turned the ball over 19 times but had a 39-28 rebounding advantage which helped them get second chances. Alex Robinson led the way with 14 points and Kenrich Williams notched a double-double with 13 points and 10 boards.
Next, the Frogs traveled to face #1 seed Iowa and were able to win 94-92 in overtime even though the Hawkeyes seemed locked in from behind the arc and TCU was without star freshman Jaylen Fisher. It was an offensive explosion for TCU as the team assisted on 26 of 36 made field goals and shot 50.7%. They went 10/24 from deep and 5 separate players finished with 13 or more points.
Against Iowa, Robinson was able to come away with a double-double, scoring 19 points as well as getting 11 assists. Kenny Hustle had another double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds to go along with 6 assists and 4 assists. Vladimir Brodziansky also had 19 points and freshman Desmond Bane, who started for Fisher, dropped in another 15 points. Brandon Parrish was on fire off the bench and added in 14 more points while going 4/6 from deep.
Richmond started off their NIT run with a 71-64 victory at #3 seed Alabama. The Spiders shot 53.8% from the field and were led by guard ShawnDre’ Jones, who scored 22 points on 9/15 shooting. T.J. Cline, who is the son of current Sacramento Kings assistant coach Nancy Lieberman and from Plano, added in another 15 points and grabbed 6 boards.
After Alabama, Richmond returned home to host #7 seed Oakland and came away with an 87-83 win. Once again, the Spiders were very good offensively and shot 53.4% from the field. Cline, the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year, was the star of the game, leading the team with 25 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 assists. Jones also had a big game, finishing with 17 points on 6/13 shooting. Guard Khwan Fore also played well, scoring 17 points on 7/9 shooting.
Besides the three aforementioned Richmond players, TCU will also need to keep an eye on De’Monte Buckingham, who was the Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year. He averages 10.5 points and 5.7 rebounds per game for the season and is shooting 45.8%. In the NIT thus far, he is averaging 13.5 points per game on 50% shooting and has yet to miss a free throw.
As a team, Richmond enters the game 22-12 overall and they were 13-5 in conference play. They have a non-conference win over Boston College from the ACC and also had some close losses to Maryland, Wake Forest, and Texas Tech. They are ranked #80 in the RPI and #96 in ESPN’s BPI, whereas TCU is #67 and #52 in those polls, respectively. According to KenPom.com, the Spiders are ranked #75 in offensive efficiency and #114 in defensive efficiency, both of which are below the Frogs.
Three Things to Watch:
1 - Cline vs. Vlad
The battle in the post between Richmond’s T.J. Cline and TCU’s Vladimir Brodziansky will have a major impact on the game. Both are very skilled big men and can space the floor. Cline will likely want to have a big game coming back home to the metroplex, but he also has a lot more pressure on him to deliver for his team. If Vlad can get him into foul trouble, things could get much easier for TCU. If Cline gets going though, it could be a long night for the Frogs.
2 - Bench Depth
One area where TCU appears it will have an advantage is depth. Richmond has some very talented players, but they do not go very deep on their bench and when they do, it’s not for long. The Frogs on the other hand have a solid 9-man rotation even with Jaylen Fisher out. If the four seniors for TCU that come off the bench can have a huge impact in their final game at Schollmaier Arena, then the Frogs could run away with this game.
3 - Trying to Make History
In a year that has already been historic for the program and seen records set, TCU will be looking to make a little more history. This season marks the 7th time that the Frogs have made to the NIT and the 4th time they have advanced to the Quarterfinals. However, TCU has never been able to get over the hump in order to advance to the Semifinals at Madison Square Garden. Will this year finally be the year?
I think TCU will continue this special season and will be heading to Madison Square Garden next week. Ultimately, the Frogs should have a major advantage bringing in guys like Brandon Parrish, Karviar Shepherd, and Chris Washburn off the bench. I also expect Alex Robinson and Kenrich Williams to continue to shine. Richmond has some great players and will be a tough out, but I expect TCU to get it done tonight at Schollmaier Arena.
Score Prediction: TCU 81, Richmond 73
Here are some additional game notes, courtesy of GoFrogs.com:
- One year ago on Tuesday, TCU hired Jamie Dixon to be its 22nd head coach.
- At 21 wins, TCU has its most victories in a season since going 21-14 in 2004-05.
- TCU has not recorded more than 21 wins since going 27-6 during the 1997-98 season, its last NCAA Tournament Appearance.
- Jamie Dixon has had a 20-win season in 13 of his 14 seasons as a head coach.
- Vladimir Brodziansky (Second Team and All-Defensive), Jaylen Fisher (Honorable Mention), Alex Robinson (All-Newcomer) and Kenrich Williams (Honorable Mention) all earned postseason honors from the Big 12 Conference.
- Brodziansky was named All-Big 12 Honorable Mention by the AP.
- TCU finished eighth in the Big 12, the highest in its five seasons in the league. TCU was picked 10th in the preseason poll.
- At 14-6, it's TCU's most wins at home since a 14-3 home record during the 2011-12 season. TCU was 15-1 in 2000-01.
- Jamie Dixon has won the most games of any TCU head coach in his first year with the program.
- In its five seasons in the Big 12, TCU has three road conference wins, two of those wins coming this season.
- Jamie Dixon has coached as many conference wins (6) as TCU had in the last three years combined.
- TCU is 19-5 when outrebounding its opponent.
- TCU is 9-2 when shooting over 50 percent from the field.
- TCU is 18-2 when leading at halftime (Baylor, WVU).
- TCU is 12-4 when forcing more turnovers than it commits.
- TCU's 74.2 points per game is the highest average since the 2002-03 season (80.4).
- TCU is shooting 46.4 percent from the field, the most since the 1998-99 season (49.1).
- TCU's 16.7 assists per game is the most since the 2000-01 season (18.9).
- TCU's 35.5 rebounds per game is the most since the 2002-03 season (38.9).
- TCU currently ranks No. 1 in the Big 12 and No. 16 in the NCAA in assists (16.7).
- Kenrich Williams ranks No. 2 in the Big 12 and No. 38 in the NCAA with 9.4 rebounds per game.
- Williams ranks No. 32 in the NCAA and No. 2 in the Big 12 in offensive rebounds with a 3.2 average on the season.
- Williams ranks first in the conference and 19th in the NCAA with 16 double-doubles this season.
- Williams ranks No. 7 all-time at TCU for most rebounds in a season. (309)
- Williams (13/10 vs. FS) recorded TCU's first double-double in the postseason since Lee Nailon (27/14) in the 1999 NIT vs. Oregon.
- Brandon Parrish is TCU's all-time leader in games played.
- Alex Robinson has led TCU in assists 28 times this season and has had at least four assists in all but five games this season.
- Robinson ranks fourth for the most assists in a season at TCU with 206.
- Vladimir Brodziansky ranks second in the Big 12 and 26th nationally with 2.2 blocks per game.
- Brodziansky's 80 total blocks ranks as the second most in school history for a single season.
- Jaylen Fisher is out for the season with a broken left wrist, sustained during TCU's game with Fresno State on March 15.