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Get To Know: LSU

We turn our attention to a little school from Baton Rouge before tonight's Legends Classic semifinal game.

Ben Simmons: Good at basketball.
Ben Simmons: Good at basketball.
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Name: Louisiana State University

Location: Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Founded: 1860

Enrollment: 31,527 (26,159 undergrad, 5,368 grad)

The Hell?: According to their Wikipedia page, LSU is a "Land-grant, Sea-grant, and Space-grant" university.  I knew what a land-grant university was, i.e. a school that gets federal funding via the government giving the state land to sell to fund the school.  That makes sense, right?  But it's not like there's a lot of sea or space that the federal government can give to Louisiana to SELL to raise money.  It turns out it's just stealing the name from the land-grant program, as sea-grant schools are getting research funding from NOAA, and space-grant schools are getting research funding from NASA.  Still weird to read, though.

Nickname: Tigers

Why "Tigers?" There was a Confederate army company based out of New Orleans that was nicknamed "Tiger Rifles."  They were such an intimidating force that all troops from Louisiana eventually were nicknamed Tigers by other troops in the Confederate army.  Once LSU started sponsoring athletics, it was an obvious nickname choice.

Live Mascots Are The Coolest: LSU has a live Bengal tiger mascot named Mike The Tiger.  The current Mike is actually the sixth Mike, as they've had a live mascot since 1936.  He lives in a $3 million facility conveniently constructed between their football stadium and their basketball arena.  Mike has his own website - - which includes a live TigerCam.

Notable Alumni: Basketball icons Pete Maravich, Shaquille O'Neal, and Bob Pettit; Heisman Trophy winner Billy Cannon; James Carville, political wizard and Tony Kornheiser Show football pundit; former US Vice President Hubert Humphrey; Joanne Woodward, who won an Academy Award for her role in The Three Faces of Eve; Maxime Faget, NASA engineer & designer of the Mercury space capsule & the Apollo Command Module; Dr. James Andrews, yes, that Dr. James Andrews; all of the members of the band Better Than Ezra; Bill Conti, who won an Oscar for Best Original Score for The Right Stuff and most famously composed the fanfare from Rocky; comic book artist J.G. Jones; actor Eddie Jemison, best known as the tech guy in Ocean's Eleven; Nic Pizzolatto, the creator of True Detective; John Tenta, professional wrestler best known as Earthquake; Will Wright, creator of The Sims; Rebecca Wells, author of Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood; Ruth Fertel, founder of Ruth's Chris Steak House; David Duke, yes, that David Duke; General John A. Lejeune, USMC, and namesake of Camp Lejeune; and more NFL players than you can shake a stick at, including Hall of Famer Y.A. Tittle.

Interesting Traditions at LSU: I honestly tried to find something interesting, but most of what I can find are ultimately tied to the LSU football team.  I don't care about football traditions.

Last Season: 22-11, with an 11-7 record in the SEC.  They lost their first SEC tournament game in hilarious fashion to Auburn, and ended up as a #9 seed in the NCAA tournament.  They took a 66-65 loss to #8 seed North Carolina State in their first game when BeeJay Anya beat the buzzer with a floater.  LSU might have to face the Wolfpack again tomorrow as part of the Legends Classic.

This Season: 3-0, with wins over McNeese State, Kennesaw State, and South Alabama.

Final 2014-15 KenPom Ranking: #44

Current KenPom Ranking: #54

Returning Points Leader: Keith Hornsby, 13.4 ppg
Returning Rebounds Leader: Tim Quarterman, 5.2 rpg
Returning Assists Leader: Tim Quarterman, 4.0 apg

Current Stats Leaders:

Points: Antonio Blakeney, 19.3 ppg
Rebounds: Ben Simmons, 12.7 rpg
Assists: Ben Simmons, 4.7 apg

Let's Be Clear Here: Ben Simmons is the second leading scorer on the team at 18.7 ppg.  He's also 6'10" and 240 lb., so it's kind of like imagining what Henry Ellenson would look like if he wasn't attempting three-pointers on one-third of his shot attempts, as Simmons has not attempted a three all season.  Unsurprisingly, Simmons was the #1 recruit in this year's freshman class.

SEC Preseason Poll: LSU was picked to finish fourth in the SEC this season by a vote of the media that covers the 14 teams in the league.  Ben Simmons was on the preseason all-SEC First Team through both a vote of the coaches and the media, while Tim Quarterman did the same on the Second Team.  The media voters picked Ben Simmons as the SEC Player of the Year.

Head Coach: Johnny Jones, in his fourth season at LSU.  He has a 64-37 record with the Tigers, and a 269-199 record in 16 seasons as a head coach, which includes a year where he took over as interim coach at Memphis just days before the season started.

All Time Series: Marquette leads the all-time series 2-1, including ending Pete Maravich's collegiate career with a loss in the semifinals of the 1970 NIT.