Last year, TSU had their NCAA hopes swiped away from them by Murray State, who rallied from behind to steal the OVC tournament championship.
The Tigers then had to settle for the College Insider Tournament, where they were knocked out in the first round by Mercer.
This year they hope to extend their stay in the CIT by winning a game in the Ford Center against the hosting Purple Aces of Evansville at 7:00 CT Tueday night.
The Purple Aces went 10-8 in conference but collected two quality wins over Wichita State.
Even though the Tigers are bigger on paper than the Purple Aces, Evansville will be a tough match-up for TSU.
What must happen for a Tiger victory:
- Robert Covington is averaging 17 points a game and is TSU's leading scorer. He will have to have another strong performance if the Tigers will win at the Ford Center.
- Another player to highlight in this match-up is Colt Ryan. The Purple Aces' 6-5 guard is averaging almost 20 points per game. The Aces appear to live and die by the performances of Ryan. In their last two victories over Indiana State and Wichita State, Ryan poured in 29 and 31. However, in their conference tournament, Indiana State shut down Ryan. Evansville's leading scorer was held to just eight points which led to a Sycamore victory.
- Tennessee State must control the tempo. Evansville is going to want to slow things down and the Tigers are not as effective in the half court. If they can keep the game moving up and down the floor, TSU should be able to pull away with this one, as Evansville isn't known for lighting up the scoreboard. The Tigers just can't afford to allow the Purple Aces to hang around in a low scoring game.
THE FOUR FACTORS:
Looking at the graph above, TSU does seem statistically better than Evansville. TSU cleans up the offensive glass and drives to the basket more to get to the charity stripe. As you can see, field goal percentage is about even but the fact that TSU likes to run with the ball means more turnovers and less shot attempts for the Tigers.
WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING:
Tennessee State is one of 148 schools that will be competing in post-season play!! Game is at Evansville… instagr.am/p/XAm9RMJ5xq/— TSU Men's Basketball (@TSUTigersMBB) March 18, 2013
Kudos to Tennessee State for accepting their bid to play in the CIT. True competitors want to compete. They are probably disappointed that they didn't get a second chance at Murray State in the OVC championship but unlike the Racers, they chose to be one of the 148 schools competing in post-season tournaments.
Evansville will have the advantage of playing at home in their very impressive Ford Center. The Purple Aces were 8-1 at home in MVC play, with their one loss coming to Creighton. A game Evansville led 31-15 at one point before letting it slip away.
The impressive play at home is enough to make me lean towards Evansville in this one.
Unfortunately, for the Tigers, they will only play one game in the CIT again this year.
Evansville 67, Tennessee State 60
See the complete first round schedule for the CIT here at Mid-Major Madness.