National Invitation Tournament - Second Round
No. 2 Louisville Cardinals (21-13) vs. No. 3 Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (25-7)
Game Time: 6:30 p.m.
Location: KFC Yum Center: Louisville, Ky.
Announcers: Anish Shroff (play-by play) and Dino Gaudio (analyst)
Favorite: Louisville by 5
Probable Starting Lineups:
Series: Louisville leads, 2-0
Last Meeting: Louisville won 76-58 on Dec. 20, 2005 in Louisville (Billy Minardi Classic First Round)
About Middle Tennessee:
One of the most controversial exclusions from the 2018 NCAA tournament, Middle Tennessee had won 25 games this season. The only Conference USA foe to knock off the Blue Raiders in the regular season was Marshall, which plays West Virginia in the second round of the Big Dance tonight. MTSU was relegated to the NIT after taking a stunning upset loss to Southern Mississippi in the quarterfinals of the C-USA tournament.
One of the best defensive teams in the country, Middle Tennessee has used Kermit Davis’ 1-3-1 defense to limit opponents to just 65.8 points per game this season. The Blue Raiders are led by Conference USA Player of the Year Nick King, who is averaging 20.9 points and 8.5 rebounds per game in his first and last season with the program. Fellow senior Giddy Potts is second on the squad in scoring in 13.4 ppg. Potts poured in a game-high 25 points in MTSU’s 91-64 win over Vermont in round one.
—Both teams are dealing with interesting coaching situations. For Louisville, David Padgett is an interim head coach who most expect will not be hired on a permanent basis. For Middle Tennessee, Kermit Davis accepted the head coaching job at Ole Miss earlier this week, but will remain with the Blue Raiders until their NIT run ends.
—This is Louisville’s 15th appearance in the NIT. The Cardinals have a 15-14 record in the postseason event and have reached the national semifinals on three occasions, winning the 1956 NIT Championship.
—Deng Adel is 13 points short of becoming Louisville’s 69th career 1,000-point scorer.
—Louisville is fourth in the nation in blocked shots (6.2 bpg).
—Middle Tennessee won games in the last two NCAA tournaments. The Blue Raiders are playing in a postseason tournament for the fourth straight year and the seventh time in the last nine years.
—Louisville is one of just four schools which have won 20 or more games in each of the last 16 seasons (also Kansas, Duke and Gonzaga).
—MTSU ranks 27th nationally in scoring defense (65.8) and 31st nationally in rebounding margin (+5.6).
—Louisville is 20-3 when shooting better from the field than its opponent, 19-3 when committing fewer turnovers than its opponent, and 15-2 when making eight or more three-pointers in a game.
Ken Pomeroy Prediction: Louisville 72, Middle Tennessee 68