Larry Ness' Weekly Wipeout Winner (35-19 s/Dec 23): Larry's Wipeout Winners have lived up to the moniker since before Christmas, as these exclusive releases are 35-19 (65%) since Dec 23 (in all sports), after Larry won with Butler over Penn on Monday. This 28-year vet is back with his Weekly Wipeout Winner (Part 2) in this weeks' college hoops, tonight Any takers?
Game: Minnesota at Middle Tennessee Mar 21 2012 7:00PM
Prediction: Middle Tennessee
Grade: Loser (-110)
Reason: My 9* Weekly Wipeout Winner (Part 2) is on Middle Tenn St at 7:00 ET.
Tubby Smith's team had HUGE losses from last season, in guard Hoffarber (11.6), PG Nolen (8.4), and the 6-10 Iverson (5.4-5.0). Then another guard, Joseph (11.2), transferred. The 6-8 Mbakwe (14.0-9.1) was the team's leading scorer and rebounder but he tore his anterior cruciate ligament during Minnesota's loss to Dayton on Nov 27 and was lost for the year. The 6-7 Williams (11.8-5.5) and the 6-11 Sampson (7.9-4.7) are the team's best inside players but Sampson has never really improved in his years at Minnesota. JC transfer Welch (10.2-2.7 APG) is the team's only other double digit scorer (with Williams) and is joined on the perimeter by Austin Hollins (9.0) and Andre Hollins (8.1), as well as Armelin (5.5) and freshman Coleman (5.5). Middle Tennessee St missed the “Big Dance” despite having the best season in program history. The Blue Raiders earned the No. 1 seed in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament by going 14-2 in the league during the regular season. The Blue Raiders then lost 64-61 (at home), to ninth-seeded Arkansas St, which ruined a terrific year (MTSU made just 11 of 22 FTs in the game). That loss was their only one here in Murfreesboro, where the Blue Raiders went 15-1 SU, outscoring opponents on average, 70.5-to-59.1 PPG. Head coach Kermit Davis led his team to a very impressive run in its non- conference schedule as well, earning wins over Loyola Marymount, UCLA, Akron, and Ole Miss. The loss to Arkansas St was a ‘killer,’ but I hardly expected this team to fold in the NIT. The Blue Raiders haven’t, winning 86-78 at home vs Marshall (now 16-1 at home) and 71-64 at Tennessee. LaRon Dendy, a 6-7 senior forward, was the SBC player-of-the-year. He leads the team ins scoring (14.7) and rebounding (7.2), scoring 28 pints while grabbing 22 rebounds in two NIT wins. Fellow starters are guards Knight (11.6-5.1), Cintron (8.2) and Massey (6.0-3.9-4.0). The 6-8 Sulton (10.5-5.3) and the 6-8 Shawn Jones (7.4-3.3) have both started up front next to Dendy. The Blue Raiders used a phenomenal finish, closing the game vs the Vols on a 15-0 run. That win sets up a home contest against Minnesota, which was impressive from the outset in a 78-60 win at Miami in the second round. The Golden Gophers won 70-61 at LaSalle in the first round and now paly a THIRD straight road game, here. MTSU and its fans will be more than just a little excited about this game, as the Blue Raiders are playing in their first postseason tourney since 1989 and now have a chance (with a win) to advance in the Final 4 of the nation’s oldest tourney (NIT began one year before the NCAA), played in the what’s called “the world’s most famous arena” (Madison Square Garden). While Minnesota is from the Big Ten and MTSU from the Sun Belt, the bottom line is this, the Blue Raiders are the better team. MTSU plays well on both ends of the court, averaging 72.3 PPG on 49.6% shooting (4th in the nation), including a solid 36.8% on threes. MTSU’s defense allows a modest 62.1 PPG on 39.4% shooting (ranks 23rd). MTSU proved during its non-conference schedule that it can play outside of the SBC and tonight, emphasizes that point with a W-I-P-E-O-U-T of a win and becomes the first SBC team to reach the NIT Final 4.