Wait, what? A familiar face in a new place.
Who? The Blue Raiders of Middle Tennessee State.
Where? Murfreesboro, Tennessee, a fast-growing city.
When? March 15th, in El Paso, Texas.
Why? They won the Conference USA tournament.
How? The Blue Raiders rolled over Southern Miss, 84-55, behind Ebony Rowe’s 23 points and the brilliant play of Olivia Jones (18 points, 14 rebounds, five steals, four assists).
Surprise? Predicted to finish first in the conference, they ended up in first, two games ahead of Southern Miss.
Record: 29-4 (15-1 C-USA)
Good wins: At USF, or possibly at Miami. Somewhere in the Sunshine State.
Bad losses: Arkansas on the road- the Razorbacks’ late fade didn’t do Middle Tennessee any favors.
Who’s running this show? Rick Insell, since 2005. Proud father of Mississippi head coach Matt Insell.
Extra, Extra! The Tennesseean
Senior forward Ebony Rowe is the latest in a long line of high-powered scorers to come through Murfreesboro, with 21.7 points and 11.8 rebounds per game. Senior center KeKe Stewart is the only other double-figure scorer, at a rounding error over ten points per game. Freshman forward Olivia Jones has been a solid contributor for the Blue Raiders as well, second in rebounding with 7.1 per game to go with 8.2 points and 2.1 steals. Middle Tennessee is going to need everyone around Rowe and Jones to step up if they want to make a deep run in the tournament.