By Arnie Leshin
It’s in the heart of Nashville, Tennessee’s music city, and is a private liberal arts institution with a latest enrollment just over 5,000. Now in the Division I Atlantic Sun Conference, they are the Bisons.
There, now you know about Lipscomb, the university whose men’s 5th seeded basketball team will take the floor of Madison Square Garden in Tuesday’s semifinals of the old and true National Invitational Tournament (NIT).
Who are these guys? Well, they are far from the list of familiar schools in the country, but they sure can play hoops. They are currently at 28-7, have a stud of a player in leading scorer Garrison Matthews, a senior averaging 20.8 and not missing any of the 35 games.
This included Wednesday night’s huge win on the road at No.1 seed North Carolina State. Trailing by six with 0:58 to go, the Bisons got 3-straight baskets from junior guard Kenny Cooper, and with the clock reading 0:8 he put in a short jumper andthe comeback brought a 94-93 victory.
A desperate full-court heave fell way short and the Lipscomb celebration began and led by Matthews, who scored a career-high 40 points.
Once a powerhouse in the National Athletic Intercollegiate Association (NAIA), Lipscomb now heads for the Mecca of arenas in New York City and hopes that support will travel north to cheer it on. It takes on another surprise team, 4thseeded Wichita State (22-14), which defeated top seed Indiana on the road in the quarterfinals, and then packed its gear for NYC.
In the other semis, another No. 1 seed Texas, faces Lone Star State rival Texas Christian, a 3rd seed. The Longhorns are 19-16 and TCU 23-13). In the quarterfinals, Texas had no problem in disposing of Colorado and TCU rallied to defeat Creighton.
Then they, took, made reservations for the “Big Apple.”
One more thing about these Bisons. They play in one tough conference, with two of its seven losses coming to NCAA Tournament invite Liberty (by 14 points) and two to tournament bound Belmont (by six points). They also lost at Louisville, at Clemson, and at Florida Gulf Coast, so their schedule wasn’t easy.
The schedule for this Final Four will lead off with the 5 opener and will be followed by the 7:30 closer.