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Middle Tennessee, Sun Belt champions

Some familiar faces come around again.

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Who? The Blue Raiders of Middle Tennessee State.

What? The Blue Raiders derive their name from Colgate's Red Raiders. Lightning is a pegasus, though MTSU shies away from the word.

Where? Murfreesboro, Tennessee, a Union supply depot during the Civil War.

When? March 11th, in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

Why? They won the Sun Belt conference tournament.

How? Ebony Rowe had 20 points and 13 rebounds to carry her team to a 53-48 win over Arkansas-Little Rock.

Surprise? Predicted to finish first in the conference's East Division, they finished first in the East, four games ahead of Western Kentucky.

RPI: 47

SOS: 123

Record: 25-7 (17-3 Sun Belt)

Good wins: Memphis? That overtime game with Iowa would have been a nice feather in their cap.

Bad losses: Troy. Just. Troy.

Who's running this show? Rick Insell, since 2005, with a knack for nurturing scorers.

Extra, Extra! The Tennesseean

It's a three-pronged attack for the Blue Raiders, spearheaded by junior forward Ebony Rowe's 19.9 points and 11.1 rebounds and buttressed by a pair of seniors, forward Icelyn Elie (14.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 1 awesome name) and point guard Kortni Jones (16.5 points and 4.5 assists).

Rick Insell's been there before, and so have his star players. Can they bang with the big girls?