Tennessee earned a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament for only the third time in school history, and they’ll be matched up with an opponent they haven’t played in nearly 60 years.
The Vols (29-5, 15-3 SEC) will be taking on 15-seed Colgate (24-10, 13-5 Patriot) on Friday, March 22nd in Columbus, Ohio in the first round of the 2019 NCAA Tournament. The two teams haven’t played since 1960, and this marks the first time the two schools have played in the NCAA Tournament.
Here’s a full look at Tennessee’s seeding, region, location, tip-off time, and full NCAA Tournament bracket.
Now, here are five quick things to know about the Vols’ first round opponent.
Dangerous from Distance
After Vol fans just watched Tennessee get blown out by Auburn thanks to a barrage of threes, they probably don’t want to hear that Tennessee’s opponent in the first round of the NCAA Tournament is also good at hitting three-pointers.
As a team, the Raiders make 38.8 percent of their threes and finished second in the Patriot League in three-point percentage in conference play, connecting on 41.7 percent of their threes against Patriot League opponents. The Raiders are averaging 23.1 three-pointers attempted per game, so they don’t shoot the three as often as Auburn does, but they still shoot it well.
Colgate has three players who make over 40 percent of their threes. Jack Ferguson (41.5 percent), Will Rayman (43.2 percent), and Rapolas Ivanauskas (43.4 percent) are all very dangerous from distance.
The Raiders have made at least 10 threes in 15 of the 34 games they played this season. They’re 18-4 when they make at least 36 percent of their three-pointers, and they’re 6-6 when they shoot worse than that from behind the three-point arc.
Overall, the Raiders shoot 48 percent from the floor.
Two Conference Players of the Year
Colgate’s Rapolas Ivanauskas was named the Patriot League Player of the Year, and for good reason.
The junior forward is a danger all over the court. Not only is he hitting 43.4 percent of his threes, but he’s making 52.3 percent of all his shots and averages 16.4 points and 7.9 rebounds a game. The 6-foot-10, 225-pound forward will draw a lot of defensive attention. He transferred from Northwestern and was eligible to play for the Raiders this past season.
But he’s not the only exceptional performer on Colgate’s roster.
Tucker Richardson was named the Patriot League Freshman of the Year, and the versatile guard has been solid for the Raiders this season. The 6-foot-5 guard averages 8.0 points a game, 3.8 assists, and 1.3 steals.
Colgate’s head coach, Matt Langel, was also named Coach of the Year in the conference. Will Rayman and Jordan Burns were selected to the second team of the all-conference team in the Patriot League as well.
Tennessee has played Colgate in men’s basketball before, and the Vols have never actually beaten the Raiders.
Colgate and Tennessee have faced-off twice before on the basketball court, and the Raiders have emerged victorious both times. The Vols lost 87-83 to Colgate in 1955 in Charlotte, and they fell again to the Raiders 76-73 in Pittsburgh in 1960. Both games were on neutral courts in the regular season.
Not Great vs. Major Conference Schools
Colgate had a fairly tough non-conference schedule, and they didn’t perform well against the teams they faced from major conferences.
The Raiders played Syracuse and Pittsburgh from the ACC, Penn State from the Big Ten, and South Florida from the AAC. While the AAC isn’t necessarily considered a major conference in basketball, they do boast schools like Cincinnati, Houston, Wichita State, Memphis, and UConn.
Against those four teams, Colgate went 0-4 and didn’t really keep it all that close.
Syracuse beat Colgate by 21 points, Pitt beat the Raiders by 14, Penn State won by 11, and South Florida won by 10 points.
Colgate also lost to New Jersey Institute of Technology in non-conference play.
It’s Been a While
This year marks the first time since 1996 that Colgate has made it into the NCAA Tournament. It’s only the third appearance ever for the Raiders in the Big Dance. They earned bids in back-to-back years in 1995 and 1996, both times as a 16-seed.
Colgate lost to No. 1 seed Kansas 82-68 in 1995 and fell to No. 1 seed UConn 68-59 in 1996.
This year is also Colgate’s best season in men’s basketball history, and it’s not even close. The Raiders’ 24 wins this year smashed the school record of 19 wins that they set last season when they went 19-14.