We talked about the Atlantic Sun's 18-year tournament-win drought in the ETSU post. Well, the Ohio Valley hasn't gotten a team into Saturday/Sunday play since 1988, when - you guessed it - Murray State, then a 14-seed, upset No. 3 North Carolina State 78-85 in the Midwest region. N.C. State's participation in the tournament was later vacated, but the Racers' win still stands in the record books. Last night, MSU defeated Morehead State 62-51 to get another golden ticket.
The Racers avoid the unfortunate scenario of going through a four- or five-loss season and losing in their conference tournament, ridding themselves of an at-large bid. Their case would've been interesting to see, but I'm glad we don't have to worry about it. Unfortunately, some 4- or 5-seed will. Murray State will be one of the three most popular upset picks of the first round.
Player to know: Can we mention six? It's mandatory for a team like Murray State, which spreads out its scoring in a remarkable way. (Look at its significant contributors.) Incredibly, five guys average between 10.3 and 10.6 points per game. Danero Thomas, B.J. Jenkins, Ivan Aska, Tony Easley and Isaiah Canaan — who you may remember — all get the job done. And a sixth, Isaac Miles, puts up 9.5 per contest. No one shares like Murray State. No one.
»Record: 30-4, 17-1 Ohio Valley
»Team colors: navy and gold
»We're thinking: a 12-seed
»KenPom ranking: 56
»Best win: Morehead State (23-10)
»Worst loss: @ Western Kentucky (20-12)
»Notable stat: Only three teams (Denver [??], Syracuse, Ohio State) shoot better from 2-point range than the Racers, who sink 55.3 percent of their old-school shots.
»Most recent tournament history (14 total appearances):
-2006 (14-seed): L first round to North Carolina, 69-65.
-2004 (12-seed): L first round to Illinois, 72-53.
-2002 (14-seed): L first round to Georgia, 85-68.
- Murray State
- Morehead State