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Welcome to Atlantis

Middle Tennessee (B4A) Blue Raiders

Welcome to Atlantis where the players play. Virginia kicks off its holiday tournament with a Blue Raiders squad that's annually at the top of C-USA and has NCAAT upsets over Minnesota (5-12) and Michigan State (15-2) to its credit in recent years. Do the Hoos have something to worry about here?

Game Details:

Date/Time:Wednesday, November 21st, 9:30 pm ET
Location:Imperial Arena, Paradise Island, Bahmas,
TV:ESPN2

 

What 'They' Say

Vegas:UVA -19, O/O 132.5, equates to a 76-55 UVA win.
TAPE:Ranks MTSU #174, Predicts a 72-52 UVA win, 97% confidence
KenPom:Ranks MTSU #165, Predicts a 76-58 UVA win, 95% confidence

 

Depth Chart:

Starters
PG#3 Donovan Sims, 6'1" 165, SO
30.8 mpg, 12.3 ppg, 3.0 apg, .421 3P%
SG#55 Antonio Green, 6'2" 190, JR
33.5 mpg, 22.3 ppg, 2.0 apg, .350 3P%
SF#22 Reggie Scurry, 6'6" 230, JR
26.8 mpg, 13.5 ppg, 8.3 rpg, .655 FG%
PF#0 Anthony Crump, 6'8" 195, FR
20.0 mpg, 3.5 ppg, 2.5 rpg, .462 FG%
C#4 James Hawthorne, 6'7" 210, SR
16.8 mpg, 10.8 ppg, 4.3 rpg, .571 FG%
Key Reserves
PG#1 Junior Farquhar, 6'2" 200, FR
20.3 mpg, 3.8 ppg, 2.3 apg, .000 3P%
G/F#10 Jayce Johnson, 6'5" 205, FR
22.0 mpg, 6.7 ppg, 2.0 apg, .000 3P%
F/C#15 TJ Massenburg, 6'8" 225, FR
9.3 mpg, 2.5 ppg, 3.3 rpg, .500 FG%
F/C#25 Karl Gamble, 6'9" 220, SR
22.5 mpg, 12.0 ppg, 8.3 rpg, .548 FG%

 

The ABC's of Middle Tennessee (B4A):

A) This isn't the MTSU you remember. That team that won C-USA (either/or the regular season or the tournament) three years in a row? Long gone. From last year's squad, three important seniors graduated in G Giddy Potts, F Nick King, and C Brandon Walters (45 ppg combined). Then head coach Kermit Davis took the P5 leap and moved to Oxford, MS to coach Ole Miss. In his wake, four more rotation players jumped ship, G Antwain Johnson (Buffalo), G/F David Simmons (Southern Indiana), G Tyrik Dixon (Missouri State), and C Davion Thomas (Troy), taking another 20 ppg with them. New coach Nick McDevitt (previously at UNC-Asheville) has been handed the ultimate blank slate to work with.

B) They hate shooting the 3 because they're bad at it. They rarely take 3-point shots, their 29.7% 3PA/FGA ratio ranks in the bottom 20% nationally per KenPom. That percentage holds pretty steady even taking out their games over D-II opponents. This is a tactical choice on their part, as they're only making 3's at a 29% clip as a team, 279th nationally. Starting shooting guard Green is an abysmal 5/19 in his two games vs D-1 opponents. Point guard Sims just 3/8. No one else on the team has more than 4 attempts through 4 games.

C) They're foul prone. They're putting teams on the FT line at a very high clip, 303rd worst nationally. Charleston Southern shot 33 FTAs on Sunday, while Belmont shot 24 last week against them. Even their D-II opponents averaged 15 FTAs apiece. UVA, with aggressive play, could spend a lot of time at the charity stripe as well, getting into the bonus with plenty of time to spare in each half.

 

Their Season To Date

MTSU is 3-1 on the season with two D-II wins to start (Lees-McRae and Milligan), followed big a 92-73 loss to Belmont and a narrow 76-73 win over Charleston Southern this past Sunday.

 

Keys to getting the win:

1) Paint Touches. We're going to have a size advantage at every position on the floor (with Clark excepted). This is a game to spread the floor and then utilize that spacing to pound the paint. Once in the paint, our forwards should also have a relatively easy go of it on the offensive glass given the edge in size and athleticism. Only once we've penetrated the post (dribble or pass) and collapsed the Blue Raider defense should we pivot to kickouts to shooters.

2) Feast off turnovers. MTSU is in the bottom 10% nationally in turnover percentage, almost one TO in every 4 of their possessions. About half of those are live-ball turnovers, and that's against a weak schedule to date. There's every reason to expect 15-20 TOs out of the Blue Raiders, with a half dozen or more easy fast break opportunities as a result letting UVA break this one open early.

3) Don't Foul. MTSU is in the top 20% nationally in drawing FT's. With their guards unwilling to shoot a lot of 3's, they're going hard into the lane looking for contact. In their loss to Belmont, they drew 19 FTAs. In their win over Charleston Southern they attempted 31 FTs. We'll get unfamiliar refs most likely in this event, and we need to worry they'll be looking to "set the tone" in the first game, so our players will have to watch their hands and body contact all game, lest the whistles bail out the Blue Raiders.

 

 

Predictions:

MTSU is really overmatched in this one, and will quite possibly go 0-3 in this tournament. We got a good draw to open the 3-games-in-3-days event. They're probably on par with GW, who we blew out in the first half, and if locked in (good ball movement, keeping them off the FT line, etc), then we'll be able to get the starters some second half rest in advance of Thursday's Dayton/Butler clash. *Note: some stats from KenPom used above removed their D-II games from consideration in ranking stats.

Hoos Win 72-45