Sunday Could Be Sweet For Blue Raiders

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ST. LOUIS, Mo. – After an upset win of unprecedented magnitude, the Blue Raiders (25-9, 13-5 C-USA) are aiming to make more history Sunday when they face Syracuse (20-13, 9-9 ACC) for a chance to advance to the Sweet 16 at 5:10 p.m. in the Scottrade Center. The game will be televised on TNT.

Middle Tennessee collected its third NCAA Tournament win on Friday when it defeated the No. 2 seeded Michigan State Spartans, 90-81. The Blue Raiders are now hoping to earn their first Sweet 16 berth in program history.

While the win against the Spartans may well be the biggest single win in Blue Raider history, a trip to the Sweet 16 would undoubtedly bet the biggest moment in the history of the program.

“I can only imagine the great publicity we could have for a week leading up to going to Chicago,” head coach Kermit Davis said. “To beat another storied program like Syracuse, it would mean a lot.”

The Raiders won’t be intimidated by the history of the Syracuse program or their celebrated coach, proving that neither phased them when they took down Tom Izzo’s Spartans.

The Raiders will hope to bring another balanced attack to the floor when they face the Orange after all five starters scored in double figures against MSU.

KEYS TO THE GAME

  • Fantastic Four Just last season, Middle Tennessee did not have a single player average over 10 points per game. Reggie Upshaw was close at 9.9, but this season MT has four players in double-figures in Upshaw (14.1), Giddy Potts (15.1), Perrin Buford (12.1) and Darnell Harris (11.7).
  • Downtown Raiders Middle Tennessee has been deadly from long range this season, ranking 15th among D-I teams in three-point percentage (39.2%). Giddy Potts currently leads the nation in three-point percentage, converting 50.7 percent of his attempts from deep. The Raiders have been even better in the second half of the season, shooting 40.2 percent from beyond the arc and making 8.6 threes per game in conference play compared to 36.4 percent and 7.3 threes per game in non-conference play.
  • Could Be All About The Scouting  According to ESPN : Orange assistant Gerry McNamara was given the monumental task of scouting Michigan State — which turned out to be a waste of time. Instead, fellow assistant Adrian Autry‘s advance work on the Blue Raiders has become the foundation for the Syracuse game plan. “Both guys prepare like we’re going to play that team, up until the game is over,” Boeheim said, “and then we all focus on Middle Tennessee State.”
  • Depth Chart Middle Tennessee boasts one of the deepest rosters in Conference USA this season. Head coach Kermit Davis has played each of the 12 scholarship players in at least 75 percent of this season’s contests, with the exception of Jacob Ivory who sat out the first eight games dueand last nine games due to injury. Of those 12, 11 are averaging over five minutes per game while eight are averaging over 15 minutes per game. With that kind of depth, Davis was able to try eight different starting lineups in the first 13 games to find his best combination. However, in addition to Jacob Ivory‘s injury, Middle’s depth took another hit just before the Conference USA Tournament when Ed Simpson was also lost for the remainder of the season.

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