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Know Your Foe: TCU

Ryan Bunnell and Anthony North of Frogs O’ War answered our questions about the Horned Frogs

NCAA Basketball: Big 12 Conference Tournament-Kansas vs TCU William Purnell-USA TODAY Sports

Tipping off as the final game on Friday night, the Seton Hall Pirates will face off against the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs in the 8-seed vs. 9-seed matchup to close out the First Round. To find out just who Seton Hall’s opponents are, we reached out to Ryan Bunnell and Anthony North of Frogs O’ War to talk all things Horned Frogs.

Big East Coast Bias: Heading into this game what would you say are the Horned Frogs’ biggest strengths and their biggest weaknesses?

Frogs O’ War: Strengths: rebounding (particularly on the offensive glass), defensive efficiency (top-25 defense at KenPom), and the dynamic playmaking of Mike Miles.

Weaknesses: Unfortunately, the Frogs’ worst attributes are those that are most associated with teams making long Tournament runs: 3-point shooting (that high O-REB rate is certainly influenced so many missed shots), free-throw shooting, and turnover rate - all ranking sub-320 nationally.

BECB: How would you describe TCU’s style of play?

Frogs O’ War: Methodical in the half-court offense, with the objective to get a high percentage shot at the rim. The Frogs are often deep into the shot clock driving the lane looking for a dump-off or a kick to the corner. TCU has been abysmal from long range but has a couple of shooters over 30% who are capable of catching fire in Francisco Farabello and Chuck O’Bannon. On the defensive end: TCU will get caught leaving shooters open from deep, but with length and athleticism at every position, opponents’ points will otherwise come with great effort.

BECB: How does TCU from your guys’ perspective stack up against Seton Hall?

Frogs O’ War: This is going to be a battle. TCU’s big man Eddie Lampkin will not be afraid to get physical with the Goliath Ike Obiagu and both teams have scorers and support players able to take over stretches of the game. It will be interesting to see how officials call the physicality inside, as either team getting bigs into foul trouble would be an issue. When the Frogs are in possession there is a major strength vs. strength matchup of TCU’s interior and mid-range scoring vs. the Pirates’ elite interior defense and shot-blocking. This should be a true coin-flip game typical of the 8/9 matchup.

BECB: Who on Seton Hall do you feel is a cause of concern for the Horned Frogs?

Frogs O’ War: The Pirates’ protection of the paint is a big worry on the offensive end, but the player that scares me most is Jared Rhoden. He’s the kind of guard/forward playmaker that has feasted on the Frogs this season. Guys like Iowa State’s Izaiah Brockington (19.5 points per game vs. TCU), West Virginia’s Taz Sherman (24 ppg vs. TCU), and Kansas’ Ochai Agbaji (19 ppg vs. TCU) have been Frog killers. TCU could deploy defensive stopper Micah Peavy (held Agbaji to season-low offensive performance in a win over Kansas) in an effort to slow him down, but if Rhoden gets loose, TCU could be in trouble.

BECB: What was the feeling on Selection Sunday when TCU was given the 9th seed and when it was announced you guys were playing the Pirates?

Frogs O’ War: This is just TCU’s 2nd Tournament appearance since 1998, so for much of the fan base, hearing TCU called on Selection Sunday was cause for celebration regardless of seeding. While TCU would have preferred to avoid the 8/9 game and a potential 2nd Round matchup vs. a 1 seed, this is an appropriate slot. TCU being the 8 vs. the 9 could be debated but is irrelevant – just means the Frogs get to wear the purple jerseys instead of white.

BECB: Who is the player to watch on the Horned Frogs? And who is the player that not many outside of the program are aware of but could make a big impact on this game?

Frogs O War: Point Guard Mike Miles is the star of the team and the engine that drives everything TCU wants to do. He’s a facilitator, a scorer, a defender, and a leader on the court. Eddie Lampkin is the heart and passion of the team, the big man has built a big following, and even if he isn’t filling up the stat sheet his impact is felt. The underrated Frog is Damion Baugh; the Memphis transfer is the 2nd leading scorer to Miles and leads the team in assists and steals. His drive and dumps are deadly, and if he’s able to get his jumper to go, the Frogs might be rolling.

BECB: This is the second time under Jamie Dixon you guys have reached the tournament, what has been the opinion of his time in the program so far?

Frogs O’ War: Opinion is generally positive. Given where this program was prior to his tenure - one of the worst in the country while conference hopping as a mid-major and early in the Big 12 years - the improvement Dixon has made has been immense. However, Frog fans are getting restless, ready for more: six years into his tenure and TCU has an NIT Championship and two Tournament appearances. With all the resources of the Big 12, is located in the talent-rich DFW Metroplex, and the success was seen at rivals Texas Tech and Baylor, expectations are high and have not yet been met. A similar sentiment set in against Dixon while at Pitt and now the Panthers are bottom dwellers, so perhaps TCU fans should proceed with caution in bringing out the pitchforks for Coach Dixon.

BECB: The last time TCU won a game in the Tournament was in 1987. How much is this weighing or being thought of heading into this game?

Frogs O’ War: Hey, Jamie Dixon’s done it before for TCU….just the last time was as a Senior Point Guard. It is certainly a monkey on the back of the program and Jamie Dixon in particular, simply making the Tournament should not be good enough for either. The players have spoken often about how they want to forever change the program; getting to this point is a step in the direction, but getting a win over a decorated Big East program setting up a shot vs. top-seed Arizona would continue that climb.

BECB: If someone wanted to go back and watch one of TCU’s games from this season before this game, which one would be a good primer?

Frogs O’ War: March 1, 2022: TCU 74, Kansas 64. This game was TCU at its best: minimizing turnovers, winning the rebound battle, making free throws, and shutting down a National Player of the Year candidate. Kansas profiles similar to Seton Hall, at least in styles: talented scorers and massive bigs shutting down the paint. If the Frogs are going to get a similar result in San Diego, they’ll look to that Kansas game as the template for how to win.

BECB: Reasons why TCU will win this game and on the reverse reasons why TCU will lose this game

Frogs O’ War: TCU wins this game if it can limit its egregious turnover rate, allow Mike Miles to cook, and convert critical free throws to close out the game

TCU loses this game if it has no answer for Rhoden’s scoring ability while Obiagu shuts down the Horned Frog interior scoring.

Thanks again to Ryan Bunnell and Anthony North for answering all our questions on TCU. Best of luck to the Horned Frogs as they take on Seton Hall later this evening. In all, it should be an interesting game to watch unfold.