NCAA Tournament set. Who will Lancers play?

Published 3:22 pm Tuesday, March 19, 2024

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The NCAA Tournament bracket is set and Longwood is headed to Memphis. During Selection Sunday, the Lancers found out they’re part of the South Region, set to play the Houston Cougars on Friday. 

The Lancers have one of the late night games Friday, with tipoff set for 9:20 p.m. eastern time. It’ll be broadcast on TNT, closing out the day’s set of games in Memphis. That 16 seed for Longwood caught several analysts by surprise. Just a few hours earlier, The Athletic had pegged the Lancers as a 15 seed, expecting them to be placed in Charlotte. The same went for several other sports outlets over the week prior. 

Selection committee members took to Twitter to acknowledge the challenges that came with seeding teams and setting up games this year. 

“Been doing this since 2006,” David Worlock wrote. He serves as the NCAA’s media coordinator for March Madness. “It’s never been this hard for the committee, not only because of how close so many of these teams are, but because of the abundance of bid thieves which have knocked teams out. That’s why they call it Madness.” 

His comments were echoed by Iowa State Athletic Director Jamie Pollard, another selection committee member. Posting late Saturday night, Pollard said he’s never enjoyed the night before Selection Sunday, because of the challenge this job involves. But, he added, this time was extra stressful. 

“This year is harder than all my previous years combined,” he said. 


And so Longwood heads into the tournament on a hot streak, having won their last four. That includes a highlight-reel end to the regular season, where they beat High Point 74-72 on point guard Walyn Napper’s last second shot. Then the Lancers handled business in the Big South Tournament, beating first Winthrop, then High Point again and finally running over UNC Asheville in a dominant 85-59 tournament championship. 

Students and members of the Farmville community came out Sunday night to celebrate the team’s accomplishments so far, cheering and applauding during a Selection Sunday watch party. Longwood Head Coach Griff Aldrich said the team’s success was about character. 

“What an exciting day for all of us to be playing on one of the biggest stages in sports,” Aldrich said to a packed Joan Perry Brock Center. “This team is about character and chemistry. Like a lot of teams, we have had ups and downs, but to be here is a true testament to the character and resilience of the men who are representing you. It’s also a testament to what can be accomplished when you put individual goals and desires to the side and bring the team’s goals to the fore.” 

This marks Longwood’s third straight winning season under Aldrich. As we mentioned earlier this year, the last time that happened was the Ron Carr era. That was from 1992 to 1995, when Longwood was in NCAA Division II, so it’s been a minute. This also marks the team’s second NCAA Tournament entry in three years. To put that in perspective, Longwood is one of just 20 mid-major schools to do that within the last five years. 

“Great programs are competitive year-in and year-out,” Athletics Director Tim Hall said at Sunday’s watch party. “It’s been wonderful all year to see Longwood alumni, the campus community, and fans from across Central Virginia support this team on their way to a second Big South Championship. I know the team has been boosted by that support the entire year.” 


Longwood will take on a University of Houston team that many networks are projecting as a possible Final Four contender, ranked first in the nation in scoring defense. They’re also tied for 10th in the nation in offensive rebounding. The other team in that tie? The Longwood Lancers. 

The 30-4 Cougars, however, come into Friday’s game short on depth. Freshman Jojo Tugler went down two weeks ago with a broken foot. That marks the third rotation player lost to injury this season, behind Ramon Walker Jr. and Terrance Arceneaux. And that lack of depth showed in a 69- 41 loss in the Big 12 tournament championship this past Saturday, as Iowa State kept a steady pace. The Cougars only shot 26.8% from the field during that game. To put it in perspective, that’s 15 of 56. 

“Longwood is a champion, that’s what I know about them,” said Houston Head Coach Kelvin Sampson, speaking to ESPN on Sunday about the Cougars’ first round opponent. “They just won a championship.” 


If you’re wanting to see the games in person or take part in a watch party, Longwood will have a breakdown of both at gowood.