The Gaels used size and an efficient offense to prevent MTSU from gaining any momentum on transition buckets, and will now move on to face Memphis in the second round.
"I didn't know I was one for my last eighteen," senior point guard Matthew Dellavedova.
That sufficiently sums up how confidently "Delly" played. He led his team with 22 points on 5-for-7 deep shooting, plus chipping in six rebounds and four assists for good measure.
Middle Tennessee State was never really going to succeed in this game once it became evident that they couldn't use their athleticism to their advantage. When you are the smaller but more athletic team, the best way to assert your will is to get out in transition. The best way to get out in transition is to force turnovers. When your opponent only turns the ball over seven times, your plan is screwed.
Add into that, the Raiders didn't just get out in transition, they didn't really push the pace at all. MTSU only attempted seven free throws all game, four of which were in the last three minutes after the game was ostensibly over. They never got into a rhythm, and they need that more than we realized.
In addition, as the great Greg Anthony pointed out, Dellavedova is smart enough as a point guard that when MTSU continued to pressure the Gaels at the same pace all game, he eventually figured out how to beat it. The Raiders had no other answer, and now they are heading home.