Middle Tennessee Men's Basketball 2018 NIT Tournament Capsule

Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders

Conference USA (24-7, 16-2)

Middle Tennessee has pulled off upsets in the last two NCAA Tournaments. In 2016 they had that massive victory over Michigan State. Last year they beat another Big Ten team, Minnesota. However, both years the Blue Raiders tournament run ended there. This year MTSU has again cruised through Conference USA with few problems and are poised to pull off another tournament upset. Perhaps this time around they can reach the Sweet Sixteen.
Big Wins: 11/13 at Murray State (72-67), 1/20 at Western Kentucky (66-62), 2/1 at Old Dominion (66-59)
Bad Losses: 11/16 Belmont (63-69), 1/18 at Marshall (63-73), 3/3 Marshall (67-76)
Coach: Kermit Davis
Why They Can Surprise:
Once again Coach Kermit Davis has his team winning with tough defense and tough rebounding. Nick King, a 6-7 senior, spearheads the rebounding effort, but he gets some help from Brandon Walters and Karl Gamble. King is also the team’s top scorer, adding 21.14 points per game to his 8.4 rebounds. The graduate transfer who spent time at Memphis and Alabama has really helped take over the scoring load from some of the departed players. Walters does not have the overall offensive game that King does, but he has emerged as a very consistent and efficient interior scorer.
Why They Can Disappoint:
In years past, Middle Tennessee had a superb turnover margin. That is not the case this year. This is not a group that will get a ton of steals and easy points off those turnovers. It is also not a team that will take care of the basketball. The Blue Raiders have fallen back to the middle of the pack in those categories. Tyrik Dixon is having a good season running the point and Antwain Johnson and Giddy Potts are proven perimeter players. Potts has had a magnificent career at MTSU and will look to make some clutch shots. He is the team’s most prolific outside shooter, but King and Johnson are certainly capable of connecting on some three-pointers. More so than in years past, this team needs to hit some long balls in order to stretch out the defense and make up for any possible turnover deficits.
Probable Starters:
Tyrik Dixon, Sophomore, Guard, 5.0 ppg, 3.3 apg
Antwain Johnson, Junior, Guard, 10.2 ppg, 1.8 apg
Giddy Potts, Senior, Guard, 13.0 ppg. 2.6 apg, 4.4 rpg
Nick King, Senior, Forward, 21.1 ppg, 8.4 rpg
Brandon Walters, Senior, Forward, 10.5 ppg, 5.3 rpg
Key Role Players:
Karl Gamble, Junior, Forward, 3.9 ppg, 3.2 rpg
Edward Simpson, Senior, Guard, 2.5 ppg
Donovan Sims, Freshman, Guard, 1.5 ppg
David Simmons, Junior, Guard, 4.7 ppg, 1.6 apg
James Hawthrone, Junior, Forward, 2.3 ppg
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 75.1 (145th in nation, 6th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 65.6 (28, 2)
Field-Goal Percentage: 46.4 (94, 4)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.7 (100, 4)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.2 (224, 9)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 36.3 (109, 4)
Free-Throw Percentage: 74.1 (71, 3)
Rebound Margin: 5.5 (32, 2)
Assists Per Game: 14.1 (138, 7)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.3 (114, 5)
Recent Postseason Appearances:
2017    NCAA Round of 64 win over Minnesota
2017    NCAA Round of 32 loss to Butler
2016    NCAA Round of 64 win over Michigan State
2016    NCAA Round of 32 loss to Syracuse
2015    CIT      First Round loss to Kent State
2013    NCAA Opening Round loss to St. Mary's
2012    NIT     First Round win over Marshall
2012    NIT     Second Round win over Tennessee
2012    NIT     Quarterfinal loss to Minnesota
2010    CIT      First Round loss to Missouri State
*all team stats through 3/4