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Strictly Come Dancing: Middle Tennessee, Sun Belt

 

Who? The Blue Raiders of Middle Tennessee State. Sometimes also known as the Lady Raiders.

Where? Murfreesboro, TN, just about smack-dab in the middle of the state, which I guess is why they called the university Middle Tennessee State.

When? Tuesday the 9th, in Hot Springs, AR.

How? It took overtime and a transcendent 48-point, 16-rebound performance from Alysha Clark to beat top-seeded Arkansas-Little Rock 70-68.

Upset? Technically, yes. The Sun Belt's Eastern Division champions were the second seed thanks to a loss in head-to-head play against the Trojans.

RPI: 23

SOS: 84


There's a lot of tournament-making, nationally ranked basketball played in the state of Tennessee, and not all of it is housed in Knoxville or Nashville. Middle Tennessee State is a perennial tournament team with a lot of offense, strong defense, and the willingness to play anyone.

It all starts with the amazing senior Alysha Clark, two-time Sun Belt Player of the Year and the nation's leading scorer. Her numbers before today were 28 points and 11.4 rebounds per game, and those will go up after the performance mentioned above. As dominant a scorer she is, she also averages over three assists, passing out of the double and-triple teams sent her way. All-Sun Belt First Teamer Brandi Brown and Second-Teamer Jackie Pickel also average double figures for an offense that averages 81.8 points a game. Pickel was the Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year as well. I would hate to be a conference foe coming in against them- "wait, we have to guard the top player in the conference AND they have the top defensive player in the conference?!" Pleasingly geeky statistical note: all five of their starters have A/TO ratios better than 1:1.

A home win against Kentucky is their best out-of-conference win. In battles with other mid-majors, they came out at the short end of the stick against Xavier and South Dakota State.·