On Thursday, I called UT Martin’s game at Eastern Illinois a virtual elimination game. This game is much of the same.
Both teams are sitting on just one conference win, but that’s just one out of eight place currently. But with the way both teams have struggled in conference play, are there enough wins left in the schedule for the loser to make up a game and a tiebreaker? While there might be, I feel like there probably aren’t.
What’s makes this game somewhat intriguing is while both teams struggle equally, they do so in completely different ways. Austin Peay has shown they can score, shooting 55% from the floor in their loss this week to Jacksonville State, but can’t stop anyone. Tennessee Tech is able to get stops, but as clearly evidenced in their 25% shooting night on Thursday severely struggle to put points on the board.
It’s often hard to get noticed when you’re on teams with losing records, but both teams feature one really good player: Travis Betran for Austin Peay and Jud Dillard for Tennessee Tech. The difference is the team around them. Austin Peay gets little help from the guards, but have a trio of players in the frontcourt that are all capable of scoring. The Golden Eagles have a talented point guard in Jeremiah Samarrippas, but few scorers to keep pressure off of Dillard.
Both teams are also extremely young, with only three seniors likely to see minutes between the teams combined. Tonight is a good test of which young team has grown more this year.