Location: Nacogdoches, TX
Coach: Brad Underwood
Record: 29-4 (17-1 Southland)
Kenpom ranking: 35
Good wins (Kenpom ranking): Sam Houston State x 3 (79)
Bad losses (Kenpom ranking): @ Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (217)
Tournament appearances: 3 (current streak: 2)
Best result: Round of 32 (most recent: 2014)
NBA alumni: James Silas (played for Spurs in 80s)
Best name: Clide Geffrard
Famous alumni: Don Henley (didn't graduate) and NFL coach Bum Phillips
The Jacks are back! One of last March's delights is here again, and perhaps better than last year. One key player is gone -- Desmond Haymon, whose four-point play sent the Lumberjacks' upset victory over VCU into overtime -- but the rest of the gang is back, and won 27 of their last 28 games. They did lose their only three matchups against tourney teams, which is a less-than-ideal sign.
Style of play: Chopping it up
Two things about this team, and their weird, incredibly effective offense: First, their players possess strange, difficult-to-find, difficult-to-describe skillsets. Jacob Parker is a 6'6 center who likes to shoot. Thomas Walkup is a 6'4, 195-pound interior bully. Secondly, this team understands each other, in-and-out, assisting on 65 percent of baskets, fourth-most in the nation. That unity, that ability to know the strange assets of your teammates and work with them, is how a team with no height thrives on interior scoring and offensive boards. On defense, they force a ton of turnovers.
Key player: I Walkup like diiiiiis... I Walkup like diiiis (FLAWLESS)
Jacob Parker was last year's Southland player of the year as a junior, so you'd think he'd repeat -- but he was supplanted by his own teammate. Thomas Walkup took the team lead in scoring and rebounding and is second in assists. Despite his lack of height and size, he shoots 61 percent inside and draws 6.4 fouls per 40 minutes, 21st-best in the nation.
He's a Lumberjack and he's okay
Nacogdoches is in the woods of East Texas, so SFA has a major forestry department, so "Lumberjack" is a natural mascot. And the mascot is a Lumberjack. A real Lumberjack. A burly guy in purple flannel, with biceps and rugged, but not unkempt, facial hair, and an ax. There's also a flannel-wearing, ax-wielding Ladyjack, too. Basically, the premise is making attractive young people wear flannel and giving them axes.