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Better Know Your Opponent: Texas Southern

TEAM: Texas Southern University Tigers

CONFERENCE: SWAC (4th place - West Division)
RECORD: 16-32 (7-17)
RPI: 291
RS/RA: 323/449
Expected W-L: 17-31


Let's not pull punches: this team stinks.  It is possible this is the worst team to ever qualify for the NCAA tournament.  There are only 296 teams in Division One, and they ranked 291 in the RPI.  That's not much of an accident.

It's not that they don't have any talent.  In fact, Texas Southern has a fairly impressive heart of the order.  I'm not sure what statistical deduction you should make for statistics compiled in the SWAC, so let's not make any but just take note that not only did Texas Southern lose lots of games, they did so against a weak schedule.

1B Earnest Rhone put up a very impressive 406/548/643 line.  I don't care if it is in the SWAC, that is pretty awesome.  SS Jordan Bush hit 362/460/638 which is very good as well and C Justin Holloway hit 333/449/504.  That's a terrific core right there.  There's even some nice complimentary hitters there in Sellers and Smith.  Dilworth also adds an element of speed on the basepaths.

The problem is that they still have to send up three other hitters.  2B Michael Norris had over 100 at bats and slugged 256.  A batting average of 256 is mediocre, and slugging pct of 256 is just unaceeptable at any level.  But at least he gets on base. This team insists on giving at bats to David James who lacks any discernable skill as a hitter.  He hits 207 with no power, and strikes out in over one quarter of his at bats. 

The offense isn't terrible.  Heck, it's pretty good.  They do score 6.7 runs per game.  The skill at the top is hurt by the anchors at the bottom of the order, but this lineup does score runs.  So you can guess why they are beneath 500: the pitching flat out stinks. 

Rashad Ford, the likely Day One starter, has a 5.21 ERA.  That's not that bad, and he has 72 strikeouts in 57 innings pitched.  He's not a total pushover so LSU won't get the full benefit of TSU pitching.  The other starters all have ERA's hovering around 8.  The staff ERA is 8.93.  That's not a misprint. 

And that doesn't even get into the bullpen, which has provided no relief for the team.  Only two members of the pen have an ERA below 10, and neither of them are lighting the world on fire: Delagarza has an ERA of 8.10 and Laufenberg has an ERA of 9.16.   

LSU has gotten a gift from the Committee: as the #7 seed, they get unquestionably the #64 team in the field.