NCAA Tournament: Southern ready to give Zags its best shot
If the overwhelming past is to be believed, Southern has no chance against Gonzaga in Thursday's second round at EnergySolutions Arena. No top seed has ever lost to a No. 16 seed.
That doesn't mean Southern won't enter this matchup without confidence.
Like all underdogs, the Jaguars have little to lose. Winning the SWAC title was a huge accomplishment. Anything after that is gravy for a team that's won 23 games this season. In that sense, you best believe Southern will play with that kind of mental freedom.
The slingshot will be ready.
"Our coach told us 20 years ago Southern was in the Top 25 and nobody knew who Gonzaga was," Jags guard Derrick Beltran said. "Tables are turned now, but we've tried to bring Southern back to where it used to be. We're just working hard for it."
Southern knows the road to being competitive with Gonzaga lies in its ability to shoot from the perimeter. Beltran is the kind of quicksilver guard who can cause issues for most defenses. Malcolm Miller averages 16 points per game off the bench. Together, the two feel they can keep the Jaguars around if they get hot from 3-point range.
Here's the problem. The Jaguars have little size to combat the Bulldogs' combination of Elias Harris and Kelly Olynyk in the paint. Rebounding will be troublesome. Foul issues could be likely for the Southern frontcourt.
"I think we have matchup problems there," Beltran said. "They're big inside. We've got to contain them inside, and we're going to have to do a lot of helping out. But on the wings, we will be fine there. We play up and down really fast, just like them. Our coach has a good game plan, and we're going to follow what they've given us."