No. 1 UH faces upset-minded Longwood Lancers, whose coach and 3 players have Houston ties

No. 1 Houston takes on No. 16 Longwood on Friday at 8:20 p.m. CT.

Friday, March 22, 2024
UH's 16th-seeded March Madness opponent is stacked with Houston talent
The No. 1 Houston Cougars are favored to win against the No. 16 Longwood Lancers, whose coach and three players have deep Houston ties.

MEMPHIS, Tennessee (KTRK) -- The University of Houston will be one of the last teams to open play in this year's NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. But just because the Coogs are one of the latest games of the first round doesn't mean they'll be sleeping on the 16th-seeded Longwood Lancers.

"We are not looking at them as a 16-seed or being from this conference or this and that," Cougars forward J'Wan Roberts told ABC13 on Thursday in Memphis. "It's important going into the game knowing you can lose if you don't come with your A-game."

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Only twice in March Madness history has a 16-seed defeated a one-seed. The first time it happened, in 2018, current Longwood head coach Griff Aldrich was on the University of Maryland-Baltimore County staff, the team that stunned Virginia.

"We've addressed it with the team very, very briefly," Aldrich admitted about sharing his 2018 experience with this year's Longwood squad.

UH fans probably don't want to hear much about Aldrich's link to an epic NCAA Tournament upset. So, how about his connection to something so many of us enjoy: the city of Houston?

"Houston is a place where my three kids were all born," Aldrich revealed. "My wife is from there."

Aldrich didn't coach college ball while in H-Town. In fact, he worked in the private sector - both in law and oil and gas. But Space City is still in his heart and on his roster. Three players on Longwood's team are from Houston. Jaylen Benard, Johnathan Massie, and D.A. Houston will face a familiar squad in the tournament opener.

"That just gets me even more excited playing my hometown team," Massie, a Legacy School of Sport and Science alumnus, said. "They're really good."

"Man, that's crazy," Benard, a Cypress Ranch High School product, said of facing UH. "We grew up watching Houston playing on TV and stuff, and now we're here playing against them."

"I've gotten a thousand texts and Houston jokes," Episcopal High School's D.A. Houston shared. "I'm getting it all."

And while the Coogs will give Longwood a taste of home, they say they're determined to make sure it's just a nibble and not a full-on bite from the March Madness upset bug.

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