Texas Southern, NC Central extend First Four tradition

By The Associated Press, Randy McIlvoy - Sports Director

DAYTON, Ohio - It’s Tournament Time for NCAA Basketball!

Fill out your bracket because the clock is ticking down to Thursday’s first round openers across the country.

Houston’s Texas Southern University is back in the Big Dance and this time, they hope to pull off their first tournament win in school history.

The Tigers, led by Head Coach Mike Davis, are in Dayton, Ohio, taking part in the NCAA’s First Four to open the tournament.

The winners in Dayton move on and play in the First Round on Thursday and Friday.

On Wednesday night, it will be the battle of two No. 16 seeds as Texas Southern takes on North Carolina Central, which enters the contest with a 19-15 record.

The Tigers are 15-19 after opening the season 0-13. They played one of the toughest slates in the country to gain experience.

The Tigers' early battles came against some of the powerhouse programs in the country, including Gonzaga and Syracuse.

The Tigers will tip off against NC Central at 5:40 p.m.

TSU is the only team in the tournament with a losing record.

North Carolina Central, while winning 19 games, managed an RPI rating of only 282 nationally. They are led by Raasean Davis, who averages 15 points per game and ranks fifth nationally in field-goal shooting at 66.7 percent.

If Texas Southern wins, they will play Friday against No. 1-Seed Xavier. The game will be played in the West Region in Nashville, Tennessee.

Game preview

No. 16 seed North Carolina Central (19-15) vs. No. 16 Texas Southern (15-19)

First Four, West region; Dayton, Ohio; Wednesday, 6:40 p.m. EDT.

BOTTOM LINE: The game features the only team in the NCAA Tournament with a losing record (Texas Southern) against one with an RPI of 282 (N.C. Central).

RARELY MISSES: N.C. Central's Raasean Davis leads the Eagles with 15 points per game and ranks fifth nationally in field-goal shooting at 66.7 percent.

ROUGH ROAD: Texas Southern opened the season with 13 straight road losses, facing some of the nation's best teams. The Tigers' first six games were against Gonzaga, Washington State, Ohio State, Syracuse, Kansas and Clemson.

DID YOU KNOW? Since the First Four was added in 2011, it has included either the Southwestern Athletic Conference winner (Texas Southern) or the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference champion (N.C. Central).

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