The Tigers can still boast that they are the only team this year to hand the Racers a defeat. That could really be in the back of the mind of the OVC underdogs in this one, as there is clearly nothing to lose and everything to gain for a team that is trying to play the role of spoiler. The talent is definitely here for Tennessee State to do some damage. Robert Covington shoots 52.8 percent from the field and 44.0 percent from long range, and he is the team’s leader with 18.0 points and 8.0 boards per game. He is also a great defensive player with 49 steals and 40 blocks to lead the team in both categories. There aren’t a lot of potential stars around him, but Covington does have the support of a team that has some great sharpshooters. Kellen Thornton could be lethal from long range in given the chance, and he is one of the many that are shooting at least 37 percent from downtown on this team. When the Tigers won the first meeting between these two teams, they did it with their defense, which is one of the best in the OVC at just 67.0 points per game allowed.
In all likelihood, Murray State has nothing to worry about with this game. With a 29-1 mark, the Racers are clearly going to the NCAA Tournament win or lose in this one, though there could at least be some room for sweating with a loss. The BracketBusters win over the St. Mary’s Gaels probably removed all doubt, but if the Gaels trip up in the WCC Tournament and finish out their iffy end to the season on a low note, all of a sudden, things might not be as solid for the Racers. This could be a questionable spot, and it is one that Murray State wants to make sure isn’t in doubt. There haven’t been any issues thus far in the OVC Tournament, and none are really expected here either, especially after the Racers were woken up in their defeat at the hands of the Tigers earlier this year. Isaiah Canaan is a name that you are going to want to learn before the dance gets started. He is a tremendous shooter from all over the court, and he is the team’s leading scorer at 19.4 points per game. Donte Pool and Ivan Aska are both also great shooters, and they are both double-digit scorers on a regular basis as well. Foul these three is as good as giving up free points, as they all shoot at least 84 percent from the charity stripe.
The Final Word: Though we know that Tennessee State is going to be getting a lot of points in this one, we just don’t see a trip happening for Murray State. The Racers were clearly one of the best mid-major teams in the nation this year, and they are going to make that stand with a blowout in the OVC finale in their last statement to the Selection Committee to make them a high seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament.
Tennessee State Tigers @ Murray State Racers Pick: Murray State Racers
is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.