Three point prowess, balanced scoring and experience: Previewing No. 2-seed Texas’ first round matchup with No. 15-seed Colgate

Mantra Dave, Managing Editor

After winning the Big 12 Tournament, Rodney Terry’s Longhorns earned a No.2-seed in the NCAA Tournament and a first-round date with No.15-seed Colgate. Texas will face the Patriot League champion at 6:25 PM CST on Thursday in Des Moines in a matchup that can be found on TBS. Here are four interesting factors to consider about No. 5 Texas’ first round opponent:

Raiders are the nation’s best 3-point shooting team

At 40.9%, Colgate leads the nation in 3-point accuracy by a full percentage point, according to KenPom. The Raiders boast three rotation players shooting over 40% from three, including senior guard Oliver Lynch-Daniels, who leads the team with a 50.3% mark from beyond the arc. 

Comparatively, Texas is no match from deep; the Horns hit just 33.9% of their threes. 

Despite Colgate’s eye-watering percentages, the Raiders don’t take a ton of threes. They take 34.8% of their shots from beyond the arc, which ranks 262nd in the nation; in fact, that’s just a smidge below Texas, who launches 35% of their shots from three. Colgate will rely on its deep-ball prowess to pull off an upset, so Texas must aim to force their opponents off the 3-point line. 

Balanced scoring, five players in double digits 

Sharing the scoring burden has been one of Texas’ strengths this season — their first round opponents boast a similarly spread out offense. Senior guard Tucker Richardson leads Colgate in points per game at 13.9, but four other Raiders — Lynch-Daniels, Keegan Records, Braeden Smith, and Ryan Moffatt — score more than ten points a game. 

Unlike other automatic qualifiers from low-major leagues, the Patriots aren’t overly reliant on a singular offensive hub. Texas will have to nail its defensive fundamentals and avoid communication breakdowns as Colgate has a number of players that can make the Horns pay. 

Porous defense that could be overwhelmed by Texas

Unlike its offense, which ranks highly across the Division I, Colgate’s defense is merely average. The Raiders rank 231st in defensive efficiency, per KenPom. Texas ranks 11th. While Colgate coasted through their regular season and tournament — losing only once in league play — Texas’ offense poses a threat that is multiple levels higher than Patriot League competition. 

In Colgate’s only game against an NCAA tournament at-large, they were defeated soundly by Auburn 93-66. While that game was on Dec. 2, it shows that the Raiders may be susceptible to power conference level athleticism and movement. Texas will aim to overwhelm in the post through senior forwards Dylan Disu and Christian Bishop, both of whom had strong Big 12 Tournament showings.

Been to the tournament, done that

This is Colgate’s fourth consecutive NCAA tournament appearance (the 2020 tournament was canceled) under Matt Langel, and the Raiders roster boasts significant postseason experience. 

Four of Colgate’s starting five are fifth-year players that have been to the tournament with Colgate before. Richardson, senior forward Moffatt, and senior forward Records have spent all five seasons at Colgate and played in three tournament games. Lynch-Daniels spent two years at Houston Christian before transferring to Colgate, but still has two years of tournament experience in maroon. 

Last season, No. 14-seeded Colgate gave No. 3-seeded Wisconsin a serious scare before fading down the stretch in a 67-60 loss. Colgate also played No. 2-seed Tennessee close in 2019, leading in the second half before losing 77-70.

For its part, Texas has one of the nation’s oldest rosters, but is lighter on tournament experience than that statistic would suggest. Most notably, graduate guard Sir’Jabari Rice went to three NCAA tournaments with New Mexico State and sophomore guard Tyrese Hunter made the Sweet Sixteen at Iowa State last year. Graduate forward Brock Cunningham is the sole remaining player from Shaka Smart’s 2020-21 team, who were upset by No. 14-seed Abilene Christian as a No. 3-seed. The Horns will have to rely on their athletic advantage and strong defense to counter Colgate’s experience edge.

Despite the Raiders’ consistent presence in the NCAA Tournament, Colgate has never won a game in March Madness. The Patriot League champions are a significant underdog against the Longhorns, but the Raiders match up well enough to cause the Horns problems in Des Moines.