Bubble teams everywhere rejoiced on Saturday afternoon, as Murray State came from behind in the second half to beat Tennessee State in the Ohio Valley championship game. With the Racers already set for an at-large slot if they lost, the win prevented the OVC from getting two bids.
Murray State lost only one game all season, a close game to Tennessee State in early February. The Racers started 23-0 and were the last team to lose in college basketball this year. They are very efficient at both ends of the floor, with the ability to score in different ways offensively and also forcing turnovers and contesting shots at the other end.
Despite their gaudy record, there are some people who don’t believe in Murray State’s NCAA tournament potential. However, with multiple scoring options and an All-American in Isaiah Canaan, it’s tough to count them out in any game. First-year head coach Steve Prohm has done a tremendous job since taking over the program, and is a candidate for Coach of the Year.
Player to know: Isaiah Canaan. The explosive scoring guard is an All-American and capable of carrying the Racers on the offensive end. He’s difficult to stop due to his ability to drive and his deep range. Canaan is averaging better than 19 points per game and shooting 48.2 percent on 3-pointers.
- Record: 27-1 overall, 15-1 in Ohio Valley
- Most recent tournament appearance: 2010, No. 13 seed, beat Vanderbilt 66-65 in the first round, followed by a 54-52 loss to Butler in the second round.
- We’re thinking: 5
- KenPom ranking: 47
- Sagarin ranking: 41
- RPI: 24
- Best wins: Memphis, Saint Mary’s
- Worst losses: Tennessee State
- Notable stat: Murray State is one of the best shooting teams in the country, knocking down 41.4 of its long-range attempts.
-- Jeff Borzello