East Tennessee State Buccaneers
Atlantic Sun (23-10, 14-6)
Big Wins: 12/2 at Marshall (76-72), 1/19 Belmont (87-57), 3/6 vs Belmont (88-74)
Bad Losses: 1/12 at Florida Gulf Coast (61-64), 2/16 at Lipscomb (91-96), 2/23 at Campbell (62-68)
Last NCAA Appearance: 2004, First Round loss to Cincinnati
Coach: Murry Bartow (0-2 in 2 NCAA appearances)
Why They Can Surprise:
East Tennessee State has three superb scorers who the team will always depend on to put the ball in basket. Point guard Courtney Pigram and wings Mike Smith and Kevin Tiggs are all experienced upperclassmen who led this team to the NCAA Tournament. Pigram averages 17.6 points per game, but it is also his job to handle the ball and find Smith and Tiggs. Pigram is the most dangerous outside shooter and connects on 2.2 three-pointers per game.
Tiggs and Smith are also capable outside shooters, but those two do most of their scoring around the basket. Tiggs is the leading scorer on the team, tallying 21.5 points per game. The 6-4 senior gets to the charity stripe 7.4 times per contest and he is obviously extremely difficult to stop when he decides to attack the basket. Smith is not quite the scorer that Tiggs has developed into, but Smith is a great rebounder for a 6-6 wing and has turned the Buccaneers into a capable team on the glass. When those three are being effective, ETSU has a dynamic offense.
Why They Can Disappoint:
Coach Murry Bartow likes to push the tempo and that can lead to turnovers. Pigram turns it over 3.3 times per contest and Tiggs is not far behind at 3.1. The Bucs will play good defense and create quite a few turnovers of their own, but if they hope to pull off an upset in the first round, they have to avoid giving their opponent extra possessions. Coach Bartow has been here before when his ETSU team barely lost to fourth seed Cincinnati in the 2004 NCAA Tournament and one possession here or there can make all the difference.
Who To Watch:
The big three will give the team a chance to win, but there are seven other players on the roster who average at least ten minutes per game and some of them need to have big games in the tournament. Greg Hamlin and Isiah Brown are the usual starters in the frontcourt. Neither are great scorers, and actually nobody outside of the big three average more than five points per game, but they will work hard on the glass and Hamlin is a capable shot blocker. Seth Coy can provide some depth to the frontcourt, but Tiggs or Smith have the size and toughness to play the four spot as well. When the big three need a break it is up to Tommy Hubbard, Jarvis Jones, Adam Sollazzo and Micah Williams to provide a spark off the bench. Hubbard is a great defender and Sollazzo is a good distributor, so East Tennessee State at least has some options.
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 78.6 (20th in nation, 1st in conference)
Scoring Defense: 70.0 (221, 4)
Field-Goal Percentage: 46.8 (45, 2)
Field-Goal Defense: 40.6 (49, 1)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 5.8 (213, 7)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 33.6 (178, 5)
Free-Throw Percentage: 71.5 (87, 2)
Rebound Margin: 1.5 (137, 5)
Assists Per Game: 12.6 (198, 5)
Turnovers Per Game: 14.2 (194, 1)
Courtney Pigram, Senior, Guard, 17.6 ppg, 4.2 apg, 3.4 rpg
Mike Smith, Junior, Guard, 15.5 ppg, 7.7 rpg
Kevin Tiggs, Senior, Guard, 21.5 ppg, 4.8 rpg
Greg Hamlin, Senior, Forward, 5.0 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 1.6 bpg
Isiah Brown, Freshman, Forward, 4.7 ppg, 4.5 rpg
Tommy Hubbard, Sophomore, Guard, 4.1 ppg, 4.6 rpg
Jarvis Jones, Freshman, Guard, 3.4 ppg
Adam Sollazzo, Freshman, Guard, 3.0 ppg, 2.0 apg
Micah Williams, Sophomore, Guard, 4.5 ppg, 2.1 rpg
Following the final Bracket announcement, more team info will be added, including final RPI, final team statistical rankings, Joel's prediction, and more!