Murray State Men's Basketball 2018 NCAA Tournament Capsule

Murray State Racers

Ohio Valley (26-5, 10-3)

It took a few years for Coach Matt McMahon to get Murray State back to the top of the Ohio Valley Conference, but he exceeded even the high expectations of Racer fans during the 2017-2018 season. His team heads into the NCAA Tournament with a 26-5 record, including a 16-2 mark in conference play. The Racers have not lost since a January 18th road trip to Belmont.
Big Wins: 11/25 Southern Illinois (81-73), 12/9 at Illinois State (78-72), 3/3 vs Belmont (68-51)
Bad Losses: 12/12 at Saint Louis (55-69), 1/11 at Jacksonville State (71-76), 1/18 at Belmont (72-79)
Coach: Matt McMahon
Why They Can Surprise:
This is a team that can score a lot of points. They do it by taking smart shots and sharing the basketball effectively. Jonathan Stark leads the way in the scoring department with 21.8 points per game. He is a big time threat from everywhere on the floor. Stark connects on 41.0 percent of his three-point attempts, but is just as effective and dangerous attacking the basket. Ja Morant has not been nearly as consistent with his shooting, but the freshman creates offense for himself and others by getting to the basket. On the year he is averaging 12.7 points, 6.6 assists and 6.6 rebounds. His ability to rebound from the backcourt has helped Murray State become the best rebounding team in the OVC. Terrell Miller is the more traditional rebounder and leads the team with 8.3 per game. The 6-8 senior is also a dynamic scorer who can stretch the defense with his outside shooting.
Why They Can Disappoint:
With Brion Sanchious, Anthony Smith and Jalen Dupree, Coach McMahon has proven options in the frontcourt. However, none of them are great shot blocking threats. And the competition is about to get much tougher in the NCAA Tournament so those three will need to be ready on the defensive end. Murray State does a very good job with their perimeter defending, but that will not mean much if the opposition can feed their big men effectively and get relatively easy buckets in the paint.
Probable Starters:
Ja Morant, Freshman, Guard, 12.7 ppg, 6.4 apg, 6.6 rpg
Jonathan Stark, Senior, Guard, 21.8 ppg, 3.9 apg
Shaq Buchanan, Junior, Guard, 9.2 ppg, 1.1 apg, 4.0 rpg, 1.6 spg
Terrell Miller, Senior, Forward, 14.7 ppg, 8.3 rpg
Brion Sanchious, Junior, Forward, 3.0 ppg, 2.8 rpg
Key Role Players:
Byron Hawkins, Junior, Guard, 7.1 ppg, 1.0 apg
Anthony Smith, Junior, Forward, 3.6 ppg, 3.4 rpg
Jalen Dupree, Sophomore, Forward, 5.8 ppg, 4.4 rpg
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 78.9 (60th in nation, 1st in conference)
Scoring Defense: 65.5 (27, 2)
Field-Goal Percentage: 48.5 (26, 2)
Field-Goal Defense: 41.0 (33, 2)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 8.5 (93, 3)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 37.9 (54, 2)
Free-Throw Percentage: 73.0 (111, 4)
Rebound Margin: 5.7 (28, 1)
Assists Per Game: 14.8 (97, 3)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.9 (76, 1)
Recent Postseason Appearances:
2015    NIT     First Round win over UTEP
2015    NIT     Second Round win over Tulsa
2015    NIT     Quarterfinal loss to Old Dominion
2014    CIT      First Round win over Missouri State
2014    CIT      Second Round win over Nebraska-Omaha
2014    CIT      Quarterfinal win over Towson
2014    CIT      Semifinal win over Pacific
2014    CIT      Final win over Yale
2012    NCAA Round of 64 win over Colorado State
2012    NCAA Round of 32 loss to Marquette
2011    NIT     First Round loss to Missouri State
2010    NCAA Round of 64 win over Vanderbilt
2010    NCAA Round of 32 loss to Butler
2006    NCAA Round of 64 loss to North Carolina
2004    NCAA Round of 64 loss to Illinois
2002    NCAA Round of 64 loss to Georgia
*all team stats through 3/4