Middle Tennessee State knows a thing or two about upsets. The Blue Raiders will be hoping to continue the magic when they take on the Florida State Seminoles tomorrow in the first round of the NCAA Women's Tournament. MT (24-8, 15-3) is the champion of Conference USA beating Old Dominion in the conference final 70-54.
The Blue Raiders go nine deep but play seven players the majority of the minutes. They are led by former FSU recruit Brea Edwards (1st team, All C-USA). The 5'10 guard leads the team in scoring and rebounding (17.9pts, 8.1reb) while shooting .415 from three and .865 from the free throw line. Edwards ranks 12th nationally in three pointers per game (3.03). Ty Petty (2nd team, All C-USA) runs the point for MT. Petty (12.3pts, 5.9ast) is not a great shooter (.380 2PT, .264 3PT) but she runs the team well and is an adept passer leading C-USA in assists and 18th nationally. Forward Alex Johnson (1st team, Freshman C-USA) is another player to watch. The 6'0 Johnson does most of her damage on the interior. She shoots a high percentage (.520 2PT) but she is still adjusting to the college game and as a result she is prone to foul trouble.
Overall MT is a relatively small team. Johnson and forward Gabby Lyon are the only starters who are 6 feet tall and they are both at 6 feet even. Rebecca Reuter and TiAnna Porter are both 6'2 and will come off the bench but the Noles will have the size advantage upfront in this one with 6'4 Adut Bulgak, 6'1 Ivey Slaughter and 6'5 Kai James. The Seminoles will look to use that size advantage to again win the battle on the boards. FSU out rebounds its opponents by 12 a game. MT may be small but they are actually a pretty good rebounding team as they out rebound their opponents by 3.6 a game.
The other big key will be three point shooting. The Blue Raiders average 6.7 made triples a game while FSU is at 4.8. If MT can get that number into double digits they will have a real chance at the upset.
Florida State and Middle Tennessee have played two common opponents in Virginia and UAB who MT played twice. FSU beat UVA 70-48 in Tallahassee while MT lost to them in Murfreesboro 70-66. MT beat UAB 68-40 at home and 77-72 on the road in overtime. FSU beat UAB 84-44 in Tallahassee.
FSU has a clear talent advantage in this game. If the Blue Raiders are to pull the upset they need to have a great day from beyond the arc and the Noles need to have a terrible shooting day with quite a few turnovers thrown into the mix.
Sagarin has FSU as 14 point favorites. The game will tip at 1:30pm on Saturday from College Station, TX (ESPN 2 or ESPN 3). The winner will advance in the Dallas region and face the winner of (4) Texas A&M and (13) Missouri State on Monday.