No. 14 Murray State Survives, But How Far Can They Go?
The Murray State Racers are one of the hardest teams in college basketball to judge. They are a dangerous team, but they also play in the Ohio Valley Conference. That conference is less than stellar to say the least. On Saturday afternoon, the Racers clinched their spot in the dance. They would have gone regardless, but bubble teams around the country can breath just a little easier.
Murray State survived a scare from Tennessee State, winning 54-52 on a basket from the baseline by Jewuan Long. The Racers had been down seven points with just 5:28 left to play. Tennessee State has been the only team to beat the Racers so far this season, but this was not to be. The Tigers were too sloppy on the offensive end, while Murray State did just enough to squeak out a victory. With The Racers now in the dance, how far can this team go?
Currently sitting ninth in the latest edition of the USA Today Coaches Poll, Murray State seems to be just a bit overrated. I will repeat that: Murray State is overrated. Taking a look into the Racers stats from this season, they rank 223rd in the NCAA in rebounds per game at just 33.6 per game, but some of that comes from having the 22nd best team shooting percentage at 48%, which limits the amount of offensive rebounds available.
Still, the Racers, in terms of BPI, are ranked 33rd with an average strength of schedule ranked 55th. They only have two wins over ranked teams, but it was an impressive handling of Saint Mary’s last week. Projecting the bracket is tough, but I feel a seed somewhere between five and seven is fair, depending on how the bubble shakes out over the next week.
That being said, the Racers will have a tough second round matchup, against someone like a Marquette, Baylor, Louisville, etc. They certainly have the capability of winning that game, but I can’t see the Racers going past the sweet sixteen. They just do not have the height that the much larger schools do. which is why I believe Murray State will not be able to make as deep of a run as people think.
Still though, this is March Madness, and they do not call it that for nothing. I would be very happy to be proven wrong.
Follow Paul Troupe on Twitter @gamin4HIM