Murray State is the First Team in the 2018 NCAA Tournament
What a showing by Murray State in the second half of the OVC Title game to beat Belmont 68-51. Murray blitzed Belmont to start the game, getting up 7-0 about 3 minutes into the game, before Belmont started doing Belmont things – running an efficient offense and hitting shots. That led to a 3 point halftime lead, something that should have made Belmont fans feel pretty good, especially when you have Rick Byrd on the sidelines.
However, Jonathan Stark started to remember he was the best player on the floor and took over the game. He finished with 24 points on 10-for-21 from the field. The other player that really helped push the lead out for Murray State was Ja Morant, who finished with a 15/5/5 stat line. He had some real nice set ups, especially getting into the lane off the bounce and dropping no-look passes for dunk.
So why should you know about Murray State? It will be a popular pick for the 4/13 or 5/12 upset. The Racers are 65th on KenPom with a 26-5 record. Two of those five losses came by 5 to Middle Tennessee and four to Auburn. They don’t play a super uptempo style of offense, but they are a good shooting team and are efficient on that side of the ball. They’ll look to beat you from the 3-point line, getting up a shot from behind the arc on about 40% of possessions. Defensively, they do the exact opposite. They take away the 3-point line, limiting teams to about 35% 3PA/FGA and teams are shooting just 31% from the 3-point line against them.
1 team in. 67 more to go.