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NCAA Tournament scores 2017: Butler’s stymieing defense ends Middle Tennessee’s historic season

The Blue Raiders fell just short of the Sweet 16

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round-Butler vs Middle Tennessee James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

Look no further than the stats for Middle Tennessee’s starting five in the box score to tell the tale of the Blue Raiders’ exit from the NCAA Tournament.

Butler made a deliberate point to shut down the guards of Middle Tennessee — and none more important than Giddy Potts — who finished the night without a basket. It resulted in a 74-65 Bulldogs win.

I spoke of the Bulldogs’ ability to defend the perimeter in the game preview and they exceeded even my expectations in terms of execution. The Blue Raiders were left to find tough looks in the paint and contested mid-range shots all night.

All season, Kermit Davis’s team has been able to hang its hat on a constantly evolving zone defense. Chris Holtmann’s team picked each and every different look apart and relentlessly struck from the corners for three. For once this season, Middle Tennessee had no answer.

Middle Tennessee finishes the season with 31 wins, which is the most by a Conference USA team since 2013.