Before we get to the previews, I offer this gem. Last night, SIU Edwardsville squeaked by non-Division I Eureka College. The headline from the SIU recap of the game: “SIUE Upends Eureka.”
No…no they didn’t. At best SIU Edwardsville survived Eureka. They slid by. Held off. But upend? A three point win over a non-Division I school, or any school is not upending.
I’m going to guess that headline was written before the game, with the idea that the Cougars were going to blow out Eureka, and no one ever really got around to changing it.
Alright, to the important stuff. Previews time. And we’re doing it old school today due to some time issues.
Tennessee Tech (6-4) at Auburn (4-5)
7:00 p.m. CST
Let’s get this out of the way: Auburn might be an SEC school, but that doesn’t mean they’re any good. The Tigers have only beaten one team that is currently .500 or better, (5-4 Charleston) and has losses to Boston College and Rhode Island on their resume, and also one by 20 to Murray State. If you were ever going to get a win over an SEC school, this is a good chance to do so.
But Auburn isn’t horrible, defensively at least. The Tigers hold opponents to under 62 points a game, and under 40% shooting. Where they’re weak is on the perimeter, allowing teams almost 36% shooting behind the arc. If Tech can take advantage, they could provide some issues for the Tigers offense, which isn’t near as efficient.
The problem is that the Golden Eagles are coming off a 3-18 shooting performance behind the arc, so it’s far from an automatic. But they’re also coming off a win with just 17 points from Jud Dillard, which is a new low. Seriously, it’s the first time all season the Golden Eagles have won with Dillard scoring fewer than 20 points. So, that’s progress, I think.
Lipscomb (4-5) at Austin Peay (4-6)
7:00 p.m. CST
Lipscomb completes there OVC conference schedule today…oh man, Austin Peay just turned the ball over again. The game hasn’t even started yet.
In all seriousness, turnovers are a severe problem for the Governors, coming off back-to-back 28 turnover games. I don’t know this for certain, but that may be close to a record. At least, I hope that’s a record, because it’s hard to imagine it getting much worse at this point.
When Austin Peay holds onto the basketball, their actually very effective on offense, shooting 46% from the field and just over 40% from three-point range. While their defense on the perimeter has been solid, their defense inside has been lacking despite averaging more that 5 blocks a game. The Governors don’t send teams to the line often: their 13.5 fouls per game is the 11th fewest in the nation.
Lipscomb has five losses, but four are against top-50 RPI teams (Ole Miss, Murray State, Belmont twice) and the fifth is against Kentucky, a top-100 team. Outside their win against Gardner Webb, they don’t any other impressive wins on their schedule, with their only other Division I wins coming against Tennessee Tech and UT Martin. So it’s hard to gauge how the Bisons will do against a middle of the road team like Austin Peay.
If you can make it to Clarksville tonight, this one should be a fun one to watch: both teams like to run the floor, and both teams should get plenty of baskets.
Tennessee State (5-6) at Middle Tennessee State (7-3)
7:00 p.m. CST
After a bad start to the year, (against tough competition, mind you. But 1-5 is never good) the Tigers have won four of their last five behind improved play from Robert Covington. And playing two non-Division I teams probably helped with that as well. But, now that the Tigers have mostly bounced back, they face another challenge from very tough Middle Tennessee squad, with a top-50 RPI win over Ole Miss.
The Blue Raiders are a “score by committee” type of team, with only one player, Marcos Knight averaging double-digit scoring. But MTSU puts up over 70 points a game, and shoots the ball well, although you wouldn’t know it after their dreadful night at Belmont five days ago.
Middle Tennessee State is an especially good perimeter defense, which isn’t all that good for a TSU squad already struggling with three-point shooting. In fact, Covington, a 45% shooter last season from three, and 46% his sophomore year, is hitting just 35% this season, and hasn’t hit more than two threes against a Division I opponent yet this season.
In all, the Tigers have really struggled to score as a whole this year, which is very surprising given the talent and experience the Tigers returned from last year’s team, that had a real chance of making the NCAA tournament.
Jacksonville State (8-2) at Nebraska (6-3)
8:00 p.m. CST – Big Ten Network
Jacksonville State has been a grind-it-out sort of team this year, and that shouldn’t really be all that surprising. That’s the way they’ve been under James Green since he arrived at Jacksonville State. But this year’s team has found a way to make it work, namely with some of the best defense Green has had.
That defense…isn’t likely to be tested against Nebraska. The Cornhuskers are another hard nosed defensive team, with Jacksonville State seems to have a penchant for finding. Stop me if you heard this before: points will be at a premium in tonight’s matchup. Neither teams like to push tempo, and neither team has all that effective of an offense.
That’s a big plus for the Gamecocks, who need to keep the game managable more that the Cornhuskers.
Nebraska is far from a deep team: don’t be surprised to only see 7 players tonight if the game is close throughout, and as a result get the vast majority of their scoring from their starters. 6’10” forward Brandon Ubel could provide real matchup problems for Jacksonville State. The senior averages over 12 points, and 6 rebounds a game.
The Gamecocks have been shooting the three much better as of late, which is a real boost to an offense used to seeing packed in zone defenses.