Last Updated: 2018-03-08
Murray State Racers (26-5) – Ohio Valley – 15 NCAA Bids
The Murray State Racers will be appearing in their 16th NCAA Tournament appearance next week. They haven’t been to the NCAA Tournament since the 2011-12 season. That season, the Racers were coached by Steve Prohm and earned a No. 6 seed. They made it to the Round of 32. In an interesting note, the last two coaches only made one tournament appearance. They also only made won their first NCAA Tournament game. Overall, the Racers are (3-15) in NCAA Tournament games and the last two wins have come this decade. Therefore, the Racers have the pedigree to advance when the Field of 68 is announced.
Right now, they are projected as 14-seed. It’s uncertain who they are playing, but there’s a legitimate chance that the Racers will have more wins than their opponent in the first round. And that doesn’t always bode well for the favorite. Two of their losses have come to likely NCAA Tournament teams. The Racers also defeated Wright State in the non conference schedule. Moreover, the Racers will enter March Madness with 13 straight wins. In other words, they resemble an opponent’s worst nightmare in first round games.
Head Coach: Matt McMahon- (59-36)- During his first two seasons as head coach of the Murray State Racers, Matt McMahon only hovered around .500. However, his third season turnaround was a remarkable feat. So far, McMahon has had a 10-win improvement from last season.
How They Got Here: Well, it’s already been noted that the Racers have won 13 straight games. They won the regular season in the Ohio Valley Conference. However, the favorite hasn’t always flourished during the OVC Tournament. The Racers know about stumbling all too well. So, it was necessary for them to win the Automatic Bid last weekend. Otherwise, the Racers would have been bound for the NIT. They have a 48 RPI. So, the Racers had to go through the toughest route. They had to beat the Jacksonville State Gamecocks in the semifinals. Then, they had to knock off the Belmont Bruins in the OVC Finals. Both teams gave the Racers a conference loss in 2018. It was their only blemish on the conference record.
Streak: 13 games- With the Racers having such a gaudy record, they didn’t have just one streak per say. Earlier in the season, they won five straight games on two different occasions. However, after their loss to the Bruins, the Racers embarked on their 13-game winning streak. Another factor should be of note for the Racers. It won’t mean anything in the NCAA Tournament, but they never lost two games in a row. This shows how consistent the team has been all season.
Best Player: Jonathan Stark- Guard: If you’re looking for a dynamic scorer, Jonathan Stark is your man. Stark leads the Racers with 21.8 points per game. He’s 1 of 2 prolific 3-point shooters on the Racers. Stark shoots 41 percent from 3-point range and he isn’t shy. He attempts over 8.6 3-pointers per game. Stark produced four 30-point games this season. He had at least 11 games with at least 25 points. Although Stark averaged 23 points per game in two OVC Tournament games, he didn’t shoot particularly well from downtown, In all, Stark connected on 6-of-22 3-point attempts. That’s way down at 27 percent. Meaning, he should be ready to have a strong performance from beyond the arc in the first round.
Most Important Players: Temetrius Morant- Guard: If the Racers expect to advance into the Round of 32, they need Temetrius Morant to have a fantastic game. Morant is a versatile freshman that needs to play well. But how will he perform under the bright lights of the NCAA Tournament? Morant may go for a triple double, or he may shy away from the moment. Put it like this, he’s already had multiple double figure assist games and rebound games. In fact, Morant did produce one triple double against Eastern Illinois. He had 11 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds in the win. Therefore, Morant is a player to watch.
Fun Factor: Yes, the Racers are a fun team to watch. For one, their second leading scorer is bruising power forward Terrell Miller Jr. He is the biggest player or an undersized team. But don’t let the size fool you. Miller is as versatile as they come. He shoots 39 percent from 3-point range while delivering 14.7 points and 8.3 rebounds. The Racers have played great defense, but they don’t overwhelm you athletically at the rim. Therefore, don’t expect many life altering blocked shots from the defensive end. They only averaged 3.1 blocks per game this season. However, they average 6.8 steals per game. So, what makes them so fun? It’s their passing and shooting ability.
Upset Factor (1-10): 7. Will teams be able to counter the Murray State pressure defense? If they have to play a team with a dominant offensive big man, the game will hinge on the ability to force turnovers. But make no mistake, the Racers have dominant guards that can lead to an upset.
<< Previous PostNext Post >>