On Sunday evening, Lipscomb’s Men’s Basketball team clinched an NCAA tournament appearance for the first time ever, defeating Florida Gulf Coast University 108-96 to become Atlantic Sun Conference Champions. This win not only secured a spot for the team to play in the NCAA tournament, but also an opportunity for Lipscomb’s name to be recognized nationwide.
After the game, ‘Lipscomb University’ became a trending topic on twitter, and the school has since been mentioned in articles by top media outlets such as ESPN, CBS Sports and NBC, which dubbed Lipscomb ‘The Cinderella team of the NCAA tournament.’
For President Randy Lowry, knowing the team is about to enter the Big Dance is “incredibly exciting.”
“I think you have to have a little bit of context to know how excited I am,” Lowry began. “Twelve years ago, the first year I became President of Lipscomb, we were playing for the Championship against Belmont at East Tennessee State University. That game came down to the wire. We went into overtime and lost by just a point or two…”
While Lowry said he wasn’t able to recognize the significance of the win at that time, he does now.
“We were obviously a much younger Division One program with little experience, yet here we were and we were so close and missed it. That (the win) did a lot for Belmont. Over the last ten years they have had a great program, and I think they would all point to that night as the beginning of their ascension.”
Though Lipscomb’s team may have fallen short of the Championship win twelve years ago, 2018 has brought a different story. President Lowry recalls watching Sunday’s historic game, from the “astounding” first half to the game-winning moment, and said it was “unbelievably exciting.”
“I don’t want to live through many more of those.” Lowry said. “I think people would agree. I was absolutely astounded to be 25 to 30 points ahead at halftime, I never imagined that. When we lost 20 points of that lead within eight minutes of the second half, I was sitting in my seat trying to calculate ‘Well, if we’ve lost 20 points in eight minutes and we still have 12 minutes to go, what’s the likely outcome of this?’”
When Lipscomb hung on and won, Lowry said it was an “amazing moment” to take in. He praises Coach Casey Alexander for “doing a tremendous job” in building a team comprised of students who are not only good athletes but also have great character.
“I think we can all be proud of the team that plays very, very well, and also lives very well.,” Lowry stated.
No matter what the outcome is with Lipscomb’s run in the NCAA tournament, the appearance alone could have a lasting impact on the University, in both enrollment and reputation.
“I think that we will see a lot of notoriety in the next few days.” Lowry stated. “We will have a big game, wherever it is against whoever it is, and we will have an exciting time being there and experiencing that first round of the NCAA. Win or lose, this will have been extraordinarily good for the school.”
Lowry looks at it this way. With an estimated 70 million Americans filling out a bracket each year, every person who fills their bracket out will have to go through and write in the name of all 68 competing teams.
“There will be millions of people who write down Lipscomb.” Lowry said. “For a number of them, I’m sure they will have something go through their mind like ‘What’s that?’ and who knows how many tens of thousands will go to the website to learn about this Christian University in Nashville.”
Once they visit the website, Lowry said visitors will be able to see what makes up the University.
“Those people will learn about Lipscomb…that we have the top Biology program among 280 Christian colleges, that we have an engineering program accredited in all three core areas, that we’ve got very, very strong health sciences. They’ll learn about our mission trips and they’ll learn about our students, who are just the best students in the world….”
“There is so much they are going to learn about when they begin exploring this institution,” Lowry stated, “and frankly, I don’t have the money to buy that kind of publicity, so it’s wonderful that our basketball team provided it for us.”
The impact of the NCAA tournament appearance could not only affect potential interest in the University and future enrollment numbers, but also current and graduating students of Lipscomb.
“Because Lipscomb is doing some things that aren’t just of local significance, they’re of national significance, that’s going to be extraordinarily good for our students who are here and graduating.” Lowry says. “They’ll walk into that office for a job interview and instead of someone saying, ‘What’s that?’ or ‘Where did you go to school?’ They’ll say, ‘Oh, Lipscomb! I saw you at the tournament,’ and it will be easier for students to have that next interview.”
If you needed another reason to be excited for Lipscomb’s journey to March Madness, know that while you are watching and cheering on the Bisons in the tournament, most of the nation will probably be learning of Lipscomb for the first time. That publicity that Lipscomb gains through its NCAA tournament appearance could have a positive impact on the University and it’s students as well.
To find out where Lipscomb ranks and who they will be playing in the Big Dance, tune into the NCAA Tournament Selection Show this Sunday evening at 5 PM on TBS.