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NCAA Tournament profile: Get to know the Wofford Terriers

Will the Terriers win the SoCon’s first NCAA Tournament game in a decade?

Photo by Mitchell Northam

For the fifth time in the past 10 seasons, Wofford is dancing in the NCAA Tournament. The Terriers will open the NCAA Tournament as the No. 7 seed in the Midwest Regional on Thursday against tenth-seeded Seton Hall (20-13) in a game set for 9:40 EST on CBS.

Wofford has gone 0-4 in the NCAA Tournament. On the bright side, the No. 7 seed attained by Wofford is the best seed attained by a Southern Conference team in the NCAA Tournament since 1979.

The Terriers will be looking to end the Jacksonville curse, having lost twice in the River City by a combined seven points in two of their four previous NCAA appearances. Perhaps the third time will be a charm against Seton Hall.

Season Recap

The Terriers completed an 18-0 record in Southern Conference play and enter the 2019 NCAA Tournament riding the nation’s longest winning streak, having won a school-record 20-straight games and sporting the program’s first national ranking at No. 20 in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll, respectively.

Wofford challenged itself during the non-conference, taking on the likes of No. 8 North Carolina (L, 67-78) at home, then traveling to Oklahoma (L, 64-75), South Carolina (W, 81-61), No. 2 Kansas (L, 47-72) and No. 17 Mississippi State (L, 87-98). That loss against Mississippi State was Wofford’s latest loss — and that was 90 days ago.

In conference play, the Terriers were only challenged on a few occasions, posting an average margin of victory of 16.9 points per game in league games. In mid-January, Wofford needed overtime to get a 107-106 win over Samford, after trailing for most of the night. Before that, a late four-point play by three-point marksman Fletcher Magee allowed head coach Mike Young’s Terriers escape with a 78-74 win over Mercer.

The most impressive performances by the Terriers during the regular-season came against preseason favorite and reigning champion UNC Greensboro, as the Terriers took down the league favorites by 29 and 30 points in their first two meetings.

Coming into the 2018-19 campaign, Wofford was the consensus No. 2 pick in the preseason Southern Conference polls. The Terriers came into the season with all five starters returning from a club that won 21 games and made a CIT appearance last season.

Players to Watch

If you’ve been paying attention to our website the past couple of three years, you know about Fletcher Magee (20.5 PPG, 151-of-353 from three-point range/42.8%).

He’s quite simply one of the best players in college basketball. With three three-pointers in the opening round vs. Seton Hall, Magee would be the all-time NCAA career leader in three-pointers made, with 505 in his career. His 151 triples leads all of NCAA Division I college basketball. Magee has been the Southern Conference Player of the Year each of the past two seasons, and was a consensus pick in 2018-19.

Magee isn’t the only weapon that head coach Mike Young has at his disposal in the Wofford backcourt. As a team, Wofford shoots ball extremely well from the perimeter, highlighted by guards Nathan Hoover (13.3 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 45.7 3FG%) and point guard Storm Murphy (8.0 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 48.5 3FG%).

Hoover dropped 30 points in a game in a win at South Carolina earlier this season, while Storm Murphy hit two critical game-winning shots in wins over Samford and Furman earlier this season. As a team, the Terriers have been tough to handle from long-range, connecting on 42.0% (357-of-851), which ranks second in the country. Tray Hollowell (5.7 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 41-of-99 from three-point range/41.4%) and Ryan Larson (3.2 PPG, 1.3 RPG) are solid role players off the bench; Hollowell is an excellent shooter and Larson is wise beyond his years at the point.

In the paint, senior First Team All-SoCon Cameron Jackson (14.6 PPG, 7.5 RPG) is one of the top big men in mid-major basketball, and has been a major catalyst for Wofford’s success in this historic season. Add to that Keve Aluma (6.9 PPG, 6.8 RPG) and College of Charleston transfer Chevez Goodwin (4.4 PPG, 4.5 RPG), and all the ingredients are in place for a good run in the NCAA Tournament. Throw in senior center Matthew Pegram (5.1 PPG, 3.8 RPG) with his toughness and ability to occasionally step out and hit shots, and Wofford becomes a complete, connected team that shares the basketball well.

With three players shooting well over 40% from three-point range, and a player in Cameron Jackson that shoots 58.1% from the field, opponents pick their poison with Wofford.

If that wasn’t enough, one of the things that makes Wofford such a difficult out is how well it takes care of the basketball. A four-point deficit against the Terriers can often seem like a double-digit deficit because if teams don’t capitalize on the few mistakes the Terriers make, Wofford’s highly efficient offense will make teams pay. They demand near-perfection from opposing defenses.

Prediction

Wofford’s shooting gives it a great chance to win its first-ever NCAA Tournament game against Seton Hall, And with the right shooting night, a potential second round nightmare awaits for the the 2-seed Kentucky Wildcats.