Men's Hoops Preview: Middle Tennessee @ FAU
MTSU (18-12, 12-5) @ FAU (14-14, 10-7)
When: Saturday, Feb. 27th - 7:00PM EST
Where: Boca Raton, FL - The Burrow
Live Video: None
ESPN 760 Internet Broadcast: Here
Live Stats: None
MTSU Team Site: Here
G James Washington 12.1 ppg
G Calvin O'Neil 7.2 ppg
F Trevor Ottley 3.5 ppg
F Desmond Yates 13.6 ppg
F Montarrio Haddock 13.4 ppg
G Ray Taylor 14.4 ppg
G Alex Tucker 6.6 ppg
G Greg Gantt 15.7 ppg
G Sanchez Hughley 10.0 ppg
F Brett Royster 10.0 ppg
Middle Tennessee leads the series 6-2. Florida Atlantic won the season's earlier meeting 61-60 in thrilling fashion, as Alex Tucker scored the winning basket with just three seconds to play. Brett Royster tallied seven blocks in the contest.
MTSU at a Glance
The Blue Raiders slid past Florida International on Thursday night 74-71 in Miami. In what has been a hallmark for the Panthers lately, the game came down once again to the last possession. Middle Tennessee had five players in double figures.
"You just win and advance", said coach Kermit Davis. "In the end we faced some adversity and came up with some 50/50 balls. We have to bounce back and play for the championship on Saturday which will be fun."
Middle Tennessee's 12-5 conference mark is its best since joining the league back in the 2000-01 season.
The Blue Raiders are first in free throw percentage in the Sun Belt at 74.0%, and third in 3-point FG defense at 32.4%.
Given their success this season, MTSU ironically has no scorers in the top 10 amongst Sun Belt rankings. However, they do own the 15th and 16th spots with Yate's 13.6ppg, and Haddock's 13.5 ppg.
FAU at a Glance
Last time out Florida Atlantic took Western Kentucky to overtime after battling back from a nine point deficit, but ran out of gas during the extra frame in a 78-69 loss.
The Owls slipped into third place in the Eastern Division with the defeat. The log jam that FAU once was a part of now contains five teams vying for first round byes, while the Owls would be the seventh seed if the tournament were played today.
FAU can play the spoiler role and improve its seeding on Saturday, as a victory could knock MTSU out of the regular season championship. Regardless, Coach Jarvis is expecting another solid showing by one of the leagues better teams.
"It will be a tough game. They are probably, out of the teams in this league, the team that plays the hardest", said Mike Jarvis. "They bring it every night".
A win on Saturday would mean that FAU could rise as high as the number five seed, but will need help in the form of a North Texas win, Arkansas State loss, and Louisiana win. If all three teams win, FAU will be the seventh seed.
If FAU loses, they will be either the seventh or eighth seed depending on the winner of the Louisiana/Denver game. A Denver win gives the Owls the eighth seed.
The Owls will not celebrate the traditional pre-game ceremony of "senior night" as there are no seniors on this year's team. It is a program first, and also a first for Jarvis.
"Not that I can remember, no", Jarvis said when asked if he ever had a team without the ceremony. "That is the happiest day of most coach’s lives. Get rid of a lot of headaches", said Jarvis smiling.
FAU is second in the Sun Belt in 3-point baskets per game with 7.5.
Owl's Nest Prediction
Wow, for once we agree with Vegas!
It's your birthday, it's your birthday!
Bur seriously, the Owls will enjoy seeing the lack of what they experienced last night - getting absolutely spanked on the glass - as the Blue Raiders offer a smaller and less talented front court line-up to contend with. And that will help keep FAU's transition offense flowing better. It is tough to watch the other team get three and four tries at a put-back; which happened on more than one occasion.
MTSU is a solid defensive team and relies on that to offset it's offensive numbers. But the Owls should have a better shooting performance at home compared to the earlier season meeting in Murfreesboro.
Wouldn't be surprised in the least to see the final score be +4 in FAU's favor, which it should, but for sheer statistical comparison as a basis: