East Tennessee State is returning to the NCAA tournament. Don’t blink, though, or you may miss the team’s one game.
The East Tennessee State Buccaneers earned an automatic bid to the 2010 NCAA tournament by winning the Atlantic Sun conference tournament. The Bucs were rather fortunate as the team avoided the top three seeds in the conference tournament. A 13-7 conference record made East Tennessee State the fifth seed in the conference tournament and the Buccaneers defeated the sixth-seeded Mercer Bears 72-66 in the conference championship game. East Tennessee State enters the 2010 NCAA tournament with an overall record of 20-14.
Junior forward Tommy Hubbard leads East Tennessee State in scoring (14.1 points a game) and rebounds (8.3 boards per contest). Junior guards Micah Williams and Justin Tubbs both average roughly twelve points a game for the Bucs. Sophomore Isiah Brown blocked 1.5 shots a game and had seven consecutive double-digit scoring performances in the middle of the regular season.
East Tennessee State’s regular season schedule isn’t much to look at. The team’s most impressive victories occurred during conference play. Four teams finished Atlantic Sun play with a 14-6 conference record. East Tennessee State defeated three of these four teams at least once during the season. Two of those games (at Jacksonville and against Campbell in the conference tournament) occurred in the past few weeks.
East Tennessee State is a basketball team that just doesn’t do any one thing phenomenally. Micah Williams, the Atlantic Sun conference tournament MVP, can be a game changer when he gets hot. He averages about 35 percent from beyond the arc. As a team, the Bucs barely shoot 66 percent from the foul line. ETSU averages under 37 rebounds per game and nobody other than Williams shoots over 33 percent from three point range.
One plus for the Bucs is that the squad enters the 2010 NCAA tournament on somewhat of a hot streak. East Tennessee State has won six straight. This is partly due to what could be classified as an easier conference tournament schedule than first thought.
March Madness, Championship Week and the NCAA tournament are all about giving these usually unwatched teams a chance to shine on the big stage. East Tennessee State won a conference championship and NCAA tournament bid on national television on Saturday evening. That will be the team’s one moment this March. An almost definite 16 seed in the 2010 NCAA tournament, it would (probably) be historic for the Bucs to win just one game during the Big Dance.
All stats courtesy of ESPN