Raiders open NCAA Tournament against Oregon State

Sunday's Tipoff set for 7 p.m. CT in Seattle

March 22, 2014 · @MTAthletics

SEATTLE - Middle Tennessee completed a press conference and practice on the day before the No. 8-seeded Blue Raiders take on No. 9-seed Oregon State. Sunday's NCAA Tournament First Round tilt is set for in a 7 p.m. CT / 5 p.m. PT inside Alaska Airlines Arena on the campus of the University of Washington.

The Blue Raiders (29-4) are making their school-record sixth straight appearance, while the Beavers (23-10). Sunday's entire broadcast will air in the Nashville area on ESPN2, while it will stream online on ESPN3.com elsewhere.


Matchup: No. 8 Middle Tennessee vs. No. 9 Oregon State - NCAA Tournament First Round
Date: Sunday, March 23, 2014
Time: 7 p.m. CT / 5 p.m. PT
Location: Seattle, Wash.
Arena: Alaska Airlines Arena (10,000)


Overall: First Meeting
Under Rick Insell: First Meeting
NCAA Record: 5-16


Radio: WMOT (89.5 FM) / WGNS (1450 AM/100.5 FM)
Play-by-Play: Dick Palmer
Television: ESPN2/ESPN3.com
Play-by-Play: Dave Flemming
Color: Sean Farnham
Live Video (except Nashville area) - Live Audio - Live Stats

Quick Hitters

• Middle Tennessee (29-4) clinched its 17th NCAA Tournament berth with an 84-55 victory over Southern Miss in the Conference USA Championship game. Last Saturday's victory was the 14th conference tournament title in program history and the sixth under head coach Rick Insell.
• All-America hopeful and Conference USA Player of the Year Ebony Rowe was tabbed the C-USA Championship MVP, averaging 25.7 points and 12.7 rebounds. Freshman of the Year Olivia Jones, who boasted 12.3 points and 12 rebounds, was named to the C-USA All-Tournament Team.
• Middle Tennessee and Oregon State meet for the first time on the hardwood. The Blue Raiders are 2-0 against other opponents in the Beaver State with wins over Oregon and Portland State.
• The Blue Raiders earned their third single digit seed since the tournament field expanded. Most recently, MT earned a No. 8-seed in 2009 against Michigan State. The highest seed for MT was a No. 5 seed in 2007.
• Sunday's contest marks the third time that Middle Tennessee has trekked out west in the NCAA Tournament. Ironically, the Raiders' last NCAA Tournament win came in the 2007 Palo Alto First Round game, when MT upended Gonzaga 85-46.
• One of Middle Tennessee's five NCAA Tournament wins includes a 78-77 overtime victory over South Carolina on March 12, 1986. The Raiders were led by Kay Wilbanks, who scored 20 points in the win.
• A victory on Sunday would tie the school record for most wins in a single season. The 2006-07 Blue Raiders posted a 30-4 record en route to an appearance in the NCAA Second Round.

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Back to the Big Dance

• Middle Tennessee makes its 17th NCAA Tournament appearance, along with Louisville, Oklahoma and WKU.
• For the 11th straight year the Blue Raiders are in the postseason. MT has been in the NCAAs in 10 of those 11 years.
• Last season, the 12th seeded Raiders fell 74-49 to eventual NCAA finalist Louisville.
• The Raiders are trekking out west in the NCAA Tournament for the third time in 17 appearances. The No. 5-seeded Blue Raiders knocked off Gonzaga, 85-46, in Palo Alto to advance to the second round. That was the last win for MT in the NCAAs.
• Current assistant coach Alysha Clark has been a member of the Seattle Storm since the 2012 season. She will return to Seattle after the Blue Raiders' season has been completed.
• MT has never faced a team that was currently a member of the Pac-12 during the NCAA Tournament.
• One of Middle Tennessee's five NCAA Tournament victories came against South Carolina in 1986. The Blue Raiders upended the Gamecocks 78-77 in Columbia on March 12, 1986.

Scouting Oregon State

• OSU compiled one of the best seasons in program history in 2013-14. The Beavers are 23-10 overall, just their third 23-win campaign and first since 1982-83. OSU's 13-5 conference record was a new program best and it tied for second in the final conference standings, matching OSU's best Pac-12 finish since 1996.
• Last weekend in Seattle, OSU made it to the Pac-12 Tournament Championship for the first time.
• Head Coach Scott Rueck was voted the Pac-12 Coach of the Year. Sophomore center Ruth Hamblin earned All-Defensive honors, while guard Sydney Wiese was tabbed to the All-Freshman team. Wiese averages a team-best 14.2 points, while Hamblin is the nation's top shot blocker at 4.03 per game.

NCAA Opponents Series History

• Middle Tennessee has never faced Oregon State or Cal State Northridge in women's basketball.
• Middle Tennessee owns a 2-1 record against South Carolina, including upsetting the Gamecocks 78-77 in overtime on March 12, 1986 in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament. The two squads last met on Dec. 18, 2004 with MT winning over the Gamecocks, 69-56.

Sixth Straight NCAA Appearance

• MT earned a school-record sixth-straight NCAA Tournament appearance. The Blue Raiders are one of 15 programs to have reached the NCAA Tournament in six or more consecutive years. Among those teams include No. 1-seeds Connecticut, Notre Dame and Tennessee.

Nearing the Pinnacle

• Middle Tennessee's 29 victories ranks second in school history. The Blue Raiders surpassed the 28-win mark set by the 2008-09 squad with a win over Southern Miss. The program record was set by the Chrissy Givens' led Blue Raiders that reached 30 wins during the 2006-07 season.
• The Raiders have won 25 or more games six times in Rick Insell's nine years.
• The Blue Raiders' winning percentage of 87.9 this season is sixth nationally.

Capturing the C-USA Crown

• Middle Tennessee captured its first Conference USA Championship title with an 84-55 drubbing of Southern Miss on March 15. Ebony Rowe earned MVP honors after posting 23 points and nine rebounds. Olivia Jones, an All-Tournament Team selection, finished with 18 points and 14 rebounds. Meanwhile, KeKe Stewart (15) and China Dow (11) also reached double-figures. The tourney title was the 14th in program history and the sixth under Rick Insell.

Watch Sunday's Game

Fans that wish to watch Sunday's game can do so by tuning in to ESPN2. Those who are in the Middle Tennessee local market area will see the game in its entirety. Those in other locations will see the ESPN Whip Around coverage. However, if a fan is not located in the Nashville or Oregon markets, they will be able to watch the game online at ESPN3.com without any blackout restrictions. The ESPN Coverage map is located here.

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