Back-to-back for the Bucs. Fifth-seeded East Tennessee State won 72-66 over Mercer last night to move on and represent the Atlantic Sun for the second straight season. ETSU brings some good tournament karma to the table. If there's one thing this program can do, it's keep it close. In 1989, as a 16, it lost 72-71 to Oklahoma but had a shot to win it all as time expired. That shot was an air ball from half court, but nevertheless. Then, earlier last decade, ETSU lost two games in back-to-back years by a combined six points, including a scare of Wake Forest as a 15-seed, a pick I boldly made and nearly came through on. The Atlantic Sun hasn't had a first-round winner since 1992. Can these pirates hijack the first weekend and end the streak?
Player to know: Tommy Hubbard. Although Hubbard turns the ball over nearly four times per game, he's the vital link to ETSU staying in the game, snagging 10 caroms per, which was second-best in the Atlantic Sun this season. Hubbard also scores a team-best 17.2 points per game, must .2 better than Justin Tubbs (above).
»Record: 20-14, 13-7 Atlantic Sun
»Team colors: navy blue and old gold
»We're thinking: a 15-seed
»KenPom ranking: 144
»Best win: @ Arkansas (14-16)
»Worst loss: Stetson (7-22)
»Notable stat: 3-point percentage. ETSU wants to go in a long-range shooting contest with teams. It shoots at a 38 percent clip while holding opponents to less than 30 percent from beyond the arc. That kind of consistency will need to show up against the big boy they get matched against.
»Most recent tournament history (nine total appearances):
-2009 (16-seed): L first round to Pittsburgh, 72-62.
-2004 (13-seed): L first round to Cincinnati, 80-77.
-2003 (15-seed): L first round to Wake Forest, 76-73.