Old Dominion Recap
There was more to this game than the final two minutes, but those final two minutes decided this game. The Bulldogs’ inability to shoot free throws directly resulted in a loss on the first leg of the road trip.
If you want to relive the painful final moments, here’s a link to a post that goes into a bit more detail.
Middle Tennessee Recap
If the problem at ODU was the inability to make foul shots, the issue in Murfreesboro was the inability to make any shots. The Dogs shot 28% overall, 4% from three, and 50% from the foul line. Simply put: it was not a good night for the Dogs.
But because Middle Tennessee is not a very good basketball team, the Bulldogs were able to stay within striking distance for much of the game. Tech only scored 20 points in the first 20 minutes, but at the same time the Blue Raiders only scored 23.
JaColby Pemberton hit a three pointer to tie the game out of halftime, and it appeared Tech’s shooting impotence was just going to be a “first half thing”. But after that Ronny Ward Toyota of Ruston three-pointer (they owe us money now, right?), Tech missed 19 of the other 25 shots in the second half.
Tech wasn’t just settling for contested shots either. Konkol drew up up plays that led to wide open shots. Just most of the time, those wide open shots were missed.
If the players can’t hit the shots, there’s only so much you can do as coach.
Record Probability Chart
Usually around this time of year, I like to remind people that regular season college basketball doesn’t really matter that much. At least not to a team in a conference like C-USA.
This shouldn’t be news for Bulldog fans, who saw Tech win the regular season C-USA title in 2014 and 2015 only to lose a game in the conference tournament and be left out of March Madness. And this isn’t just a Tech problem. Since the Bulldogs joined the conference for the 2013-14 season, the #1 seed has only won the C-USA tournament once.
What does matter is holding a top four seed to earn a first round bye in the tournament. In the last five years, the lowest seed to win it all was a #4.
But due to some questionable losses to not-great teams, Tech will probably need to win out to obtain that first round bye. MasseyRatings only gives Tech about a 4% chance of a win-out, partially due to the strength of the Bulldogs’ next opponent: Marshall.
And the Thundering Herd are almost the complete opposite of the Bulldogs:
One thing the two programs do have in common is that both are coming off a disappointing loss. But while Tech lost to 5-12 Charlotte Saturday, Marshall lost to a more competitive WKU last night.
Oh, and that loss to the Hilltoppers was the only conference loss for the Herd.
So I’m sure this game is going to go great.
If Marshall is the polar opposite of Tech, Western Kentucky is a carbon copy.
In the conference standings, WKU ranks #7 and Tech ranks #8. The Hilltoppers and Bulldogs each have six road losses, showing they struggle away from their home courts.
But most importantly, both teams leave a lot to be desired on the offensive side of the ball, but have very solid defenses.
Tech’s defensive success can’t really be attributed to one player, but that is not the case for the Hilltoppers. Freshman Center Charles Bassey currently leads the conference in blocks, with nearly double as many as Tech’s leader: Anthony Duruji.
If Tech is able to sustain success from the three point line this is a moot point, but if the Bulldogs are forced to drive to the bucket often, Bassey could definitely make his presence known.
Other People’s Predictions
Massey – Tech wins 82-78
KenPom – Tech wins 79-76
Massey – Tech wins 72-69
KenPom – Tech wins 70-68