Date: Tuesday, March 13th
Time: 7:00 p.m. CT
Match-up: Middle Tennessee (24-7, 16-3) vs. Vermont (27-7, 15-1)
Location: Murfreesboro, Tenn. | Murphy Center
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – Middle Tennessee begins its fourth consecutive postseason appearance against the America East regular season champion Vermont Catamounts in historic Murphy Center on Tuesday in an NIT first round match-up.
The two programs have never met in men’s basketball and do not share a common opponent from the 2018 regular season.
The Catamounts (27-7, 15-1) are led by senior guard Trae Bell-Haynes, scoring 14.9 points per game and shooting 51.3 percent from the field and 34.9 percent from three. However, Vermont’s high octane offense features five double digit scorers.
Like the Blue Raiders, the Catamounts are stingy on the defensive side of the ball. UVM finished the season ranked first in the America East in scoring defense, only allowing their opponents 64.3 points per game. They also led their conference in scoring margin, outscoring their opponents by 10.3 points per game.
The Catamounts opened the season against the No. 4 ranked Kentucky Wildcats in Lexington; while the Wildcats blew things open in the first half, a late rally from the Catamounts closed the gap to four, their eventual margin of defeat.
At the turn of the new year, Vermont hit its stride, winning 14 consecutive games on the way to a regular season conference championship. In the America East postseason tournament, UVM cruised through its first two opponents, Maine and Stony Brook, before losing in the finals to UMBC 65-62.
“I told (our guys) there is a real good chance we get to face another conference champion that has won a lot of games and that’s exactly what we got with Vermont,” said head coach Kermit Davis.
For Middle Tennessee (24-7, 16-3), this game serves as an opportunity to bounce back from their finish to the regular season. Forward Nick King, named a USA Today Third Team All-American and Karl Malone award finalist, wants this game to show what the Blue Raiders can do on a national stage.
“I feel like we have a chance to prove people wrong,” King said. “As a mid-major we have to come in with that chip on our shoulder and show people what we’re really capable of and this is still an opportunity to do that.”
Tip-off on Tuesday against the Catamounts is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. in historic Murphy Center. Tickets are available to fans for $10 and seats are general admission for fans. The game will also be broadcast on ESPNU.