9-seed TCU is set to take on 8-seed Seton Hall in the first round of the NCAA Tournament this Friday at 8:57 CST in the Viejas Arena in San Diego, California.
This marks the Horned Frogs’ second March Madness trip under head coach Jamie Dixon and their first appearance since 2018. Seton Hall on the other hand is a tournament regular. The Pirates have 14 tournament appearances since 1988, posting a 16-13 record in that time.
Despite the regular appearances, Seton Hall hasn’t had much tournament success. The last time the Pirates made it out of the 2nd round was in 2000. Meanwhile, TCU is seeking their first tournament win since 1987, when then Senior Jamie Dixon led the Frogs to a 76-60 win over 13-seed Marshall.
Although these teams have incredibly different backgrounds and journeys to get to the big dance, one being in the Big 12 and the other the Big East, there are a lot of similarities. The 8-9 matchup is always one of the toughest to pick when it comes to filling out a bracket, as it should be, but this game looks to be a coin flip in every numerical aspect.
The Bible of College Basketball, KenPom, gives Seton Hall a 108.5/93.5 adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency rating while TCU isn’t far off with a 108.2/93.3 split. Even though the Big 12 is far superior in comparison to the Big East, it’s interesting to point out that both teams finished 5th in their respective conferences.
Despite playing almost completely different schedules, the Frogs and Pirates have a similar resume. Both squads have picked up quality Q1 wins along the way, TCU with a program-best 8 and Seton Hall with 6, but they’ve also both struggled to put away big games down the stretch.
Notable Results for each team:
- Seton Hall: Villanova (lost twice), UConn (W/L/L), @Providence (L by 5), Texas (W by 4), @Michigan (W by 2), Ohio St. (L by 3), Xavier (won twice), Marquette (lost twice)
- TCU: Kansas (W/L/L), Baylor (lost twice), Texas Tech (W/L), Texas (W/L/L), LSU (W by 9), Oklahoma (won twice), Iowa St. (W/L), Texas A&M (W by 4)
Now I may be partially biased, but the way I see it, after beating teams like Kansas and Texas Tech over the last month; a matchup against a Big East team should feel like a breeze. Aside from my partial delusional fandom, this is March, and anything can happen.
After crunching the numbers, here’s what I’ve come up with as the keys to victory for the Frogs on Friday:
A nice surprise for a team that often relies on guard play, the Horned Frogs are one of the best rebounding teams in the country. TCU ranked 4th behind only Kentucky, Gonzaga, and Purdue in rebound margin and have the 3rd best rebound rate at 56.1%.
Although Emmanuel Miller (6.3 rpg) and Eddie Lampkin Jr. (6.0 rpg) have been huge on the boards, they may have their work cut out for them in this one. Snagging rebounds over 7-foot-2 Seton Hall center Ike Obiagu is a tall task for anyone, but if history repeats itself, the Frogs will be just fine.
Let’s face it, the Frogs are one of the worst teams in the country when it comes to shooting the deep ball this year. TCU sits at a whopping 322nd out of 350 Division 1 teams after shooting 30.38% from deep.
Now I’m not saying the Frogs will need to live and die by the three in this tournament, they’ve done just fine without knocking down threes, but it’s certainly a factor. I can’t think of a single March Madness memory that didn’t involve a team making crunch-time threes or having one player in particular shoot lights out. If there was ever a time for the Frogs to step up and hit some shots, March Madness seems like as good a time as ever.
The good news for the Frogs though is that Seton Hall isn’t much better, yet they shoot a whole lot more from beyond the arch. With a 33.98% season-long 3-PT percentage, the Pirates have shot 85 more threes than the Frogs in one less game.
If the regular season was a sign of anything, the Frogs should handle this rather well. TCU holds opponents to just 31.5% from deep, the 68th best rate in the country.
In summary, a bad shooting day wouldn’t kill the Frogs, we’re used to it, but a good shooting day could be what sees the Frogs through to the second round.
I hate to put a sense of pressure on the kid, but there is no hiding the fact that Miles is the heart and soul of a large majority of the Frogs’ offensive production. Going back to those March Madness memories I mentioned previously, nearly all of the memorable games had one player put the team on his back and lead them through to the next round. For the Frogs, that player has to be Mike Miles.
Miles has been huge in just about every big Horned Frog win. He dropped 26 in a win over Texas Tech, 19 in a win over Kansas, 19 in a win over LSU, and 20 in a win over shared Big East opponent Georgetown. On the contrary, the Frogs are just 2-3 when Miles fails to reach double-digits.
Even when teams single out Miles defensively, attempting double-teams and various traps, he makes smart basketball plays and takes care of the ball. This year more than last, Miles has a wide variety of weapons to help him out if things go south, so nothing is entirely dependent on his performance.
If the Frogs want to make a deep tournament run, Miles will need to be on his A-game.
One thing numbers and data can’t account for is experience. Sure, Seton Hall has five seniors in their rotation and have been playing together longer than this Horned Frog squad, but who better to take down a Big East opponent than the man, the myth, the legend, Jamie Dixon?
During his time at Pittsburgh, Jamie Dixon posted a 7-4 record against the Pirates and holds claim to the second-highest win percentage in Big East history behind only Villanova’s Jay Wright. Pairing Big East experience with recent Big 12 success is a scary combination for anyone lining up on the opposing sidelines.
It all goes down this Friday at 8:57 pm CST. Tune in to TruTV or watch the game live on the March Madness Live app.
If you haven’t already, be sure to join the Frogs O’ War Tournament Challenge and put your bracket knowledge to the test against fellow fans and the FOW Staff! Join here: https://fantasy.espn.com/tournament-challenge-bracket/2022/en/group?redirect=tcmen%3A%2F%2Fx-callback-url%2FshowGroup%3FgroupID%3D4867278&ex_cid=tcmen2022_email&groupID=4867278&inviteuser=e0MwRUMwRkFCLTQxNkUtNDYzRS05MzFDLUUxQjE5MDM4N0IyOH0%3D&invitesource=email