If you are looking at a task that is thankless, it may be competing at the University of Dayton Arena in the "First Four" when you are a #16 seed. That's because you may not even be a 16-seed yet, as you must get past a roadblock.
And the "reward" is a date with the Alabama Crimson Tide, the #1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament.
On Tuesday night, the matchup BetOnline customers will see takes place between the Southeast Missouri State Redhawks and the Texas A&M Corpus Christi Islanders. The winner advances into the main field of the Big Dance.
Tipoff is at 6:40 PM ET, and the game will be televised at Tru TV.
SE Missouri, coached by Brad Korn, won the Ohio Valley Conference tournament, pulling what was considered an upset as the fifth seed. This is not a team that is overly talented, but they have been known to throw their foes off-balance with pace. The Redhawks are seventh in the nation in Adjusted Tempo, so they like to get shots off quickly.
What's probably more of a concern for them is that opponents have run through them too quickly (and easily) when they are on the defensive end. They are, in fact, outside of the nation's top 200 in defending both two and three-point shots.
Is the honeymoon over for them?
Texas A&M Corpus Christi would like to think so. The Islanders are seeking some vindication for themselves, after missing out on an opportunity in last year's First Four, as they lost to Texas Southern. Coach Steve Lutz has led this squad to a 23-10 record (14-4 in the Southland Conference) and they have won twelve of their last 13 games.
So is this game a tossup?
We don't think so. And neither do the oddsmakers at BetOnline, who have TAMCC listed as the favorite:
Texas A&M Corpus Christi Islanders -4
Southeast Missouri State Redhawks +4
Over 153.5 Points -110
Under 153.5 Points -110
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Neither of these teams come to the table with a lot of size. But it's no exaggeration to say that TAMCC has the best rebounder on the court in Isaac Mushila. He's eleventh in the country in Defensive Rebounding Percentage. And they have the better floor leader in Terrion Murdix (13.4 ppg), who is fifth in the nation in Assist Rate.
The rebounding edge also covers the offensive end for the Islanders, and from what we've seen, SE Missouri has not been much of a threat on the offensive glass.
We're more than a little concerned that the Redhawks don't appear to be dangerous from three-point range (just 33.3%), while TAMCC is more accurate, though they don't go to it as often as some of their fans would like.
And the Islanders do not leave points on the table at the charity stripe. In fact, they are second in the nation in free throw marksmanship, checking in at a sizzling 80%.
TAMCC would probably not be all that uncomfortable with SEMS pushing the pace. But the Redhawks have been slowed badly as well; in the season opener, Mississippi State, also a First Four team (playing Pitt) beat them 63-44.
There looks to be too many advantages for the Islanders to overlook them here. Lay it.
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