One of the biggest bracket-busters of the opening day of March Madness was the 13-seeded Furman Paladins upsetting 4-seeded Virginia with some insane late-game heroics from JP Pegues.
Most casual college basketball fans can’t even point out Furman University on a map, much less what a Paladin is. But this SoCon Championship squad put the world on notice on Thursday. But as they continue their march in March Madness, many fans want to know their play style, and if this Cinderella story is due for a fairytale ending.
The Paladins made their first tournament appearance since 1980 this year and won their first game since 1974, where they made a program-best Sweet Sixteen appearance.
Furman is a private liberal arts school in Greenville, South Carolina, and its home arena seats just 4,000, which barely fits the school’s population. But the basketball program this year is anything but timid. They finished the regular season with a 27-7 record and they weren’t only dominant in their conference, but stand out amongst the entire NCAA.
Furman’s Style of Play
They rank seventh in the nation in points per game at 82.1, eighth in the nation in assists per game at 17.1, and they haven’t been held to less than 65 points in a game all season.
“We’re a top-15 offense because of our tempo, our spacing, the amount of assists we have per made basket,” Furman head coach Bob Richey said. “It’s part of who we are. It’s part of our makeup.”
As they showcased Thursday, the Paladins are most dangerous when they play up-tempo and take the three-ball frequently. They attempted 28 threes against Virginia, on par with their average of 27.5 per game.
They’re led by a pair of fifth-year Seniors, Mike Bothwell and Jalen Slawson. Slawson won the SoCon Player of the Year this year averaging 15.7 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game, and Bothwell led the team in scoring this year with 18.0 points per game.
Furman is set to face 5-seeded San Diego State on Saturday. Could they be this year’s Cinderella story?
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