Eastern Kentucky at Tennessee State -1
Recommendation: Tennessee State
Not many people realize that little old Tennessee State, the same team that at one point this season was down to eight players, including two walk-ons, has won seven of its last 10 Ohio Valley Conference games dating back to last season. How are they doing it? Well, for starters, head coach John Cooper has a core group of guys that play hard and have confidence. Those two attributes alone are a successful formula for winning in the OVC. They are off a confidence-boosting overtime victory over Morehead State, who is expected to contend for the conference title. Eastern Kentucky has struggled thus far and it is because of poor shooting and a one-dimensional offense. Last year, the Colonels graded out as one of the most efficient offenses in the country and were widely known as the best three-point shooting team in the league (38.5%). But a couple of key offseason losses have really hurt this season. Josh Taylor, Papa Oppong and Davyon Ellis combined to take over 400 three-points last year which they knocked down at a remarkable 41% rate. This is important considering EKU lives and dies on the perimeter. This year, even with a soft schedule, they are considerably down in nearly every offensive category. The other problem for EKU is handling more athletic teams. Austin Peay, which is a better version of Tennessee State, scored nearly at will in Sunday's 78-51 victory. And the Governors did most of their damage in the paint. The game prior to that, Minnesota front line destroyed EKU as Trevor Mbakwe and Ralph Sampson III missed only two FG attempts en route to 33 combined points. TSU doesn't have a duo of that nature but Robert Covington (6-8) and Kenny Moore (6-7) are athletic forward types that can take advantage of EKU's small guard-oriented lineup. I may be a little late to the party but I’m starting to believe in TSU and feel they’ll come away with a victory tonight.