MTSU Men’s, Women’s Basketball Eye Conference Tourney

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – At this point in the season, both Blue Raider basketball teams are looking to end on a high note. Conference play is coming to an end, and both teams are poised to secure high seeds in their upcoming conference tournaments in Birmingham.

The Blue Raiders’ men’s basketball team has had an up-and-down season. The team has experienced highs throughout the season, but has also experienced puzzling losses, and numerous setbacks throughout conference play.

The men’s team started conference play winning three of their first five games,  including two wins at the Murphy Center. Sitting at 3-2 in the conference, the Blue Raiders won two straight at home, both against quality Conference-USA opponents Old Dominion and Charlotte.

The Blue Raiders sat at 5-2, and were confident moving forward in conference play. MTSU would, however, suffer multiple setbacks, losing five of six, including four on the road.

Returning home, the men’s team played strong against both Marshall and Western Kentucky. The surge by freshman Giddy Potts sparked the team both nights. Potts scored a career-high 28 against the Thundering Herd, including eight three-pointers. Potts followed it up by scoring 22 Sunday afternoon against the Hilltoppers, leading the team to a big rivalry win 68-66.

MTSU will be looking to get over their road woes as they close out the season with three-straight games away from the Murphy Center. The Blue Raiders have lost five in a row on the road, and sit at just 3-8 in those contests.

The Blue Raiders sits at 15-13 overall to date, and are currently 8-7 in C-USA. With just three games left in the regular season, the team is sixth overall in the conference standings. MTSU’s final three contests of the conference schedule are road tests against UAB, who sits at third in the conference, and both FIU and FAU, teams in the bottom half of the standings.

Wins in all three contests would be big for the Blue Raiders, who could leapfrog up to as high as the fourth seed in the tournament. Both Old Dominion and Western Kentucky sit at 9-5 in conference play currently. MTSU owns a tiebreaker over both the Monarchs and the Hilltoppers, so if both these teams falter down the stretch, the Blue Raider could potentially earn the fourth seed.

The Blue Raider men’s basketball team, even with their struggles, is poised to make a run in the conference tournament. If the team can secure that higher seed, they have the potential to win games in Birmingham. The recent success, guided by Potts, is a glimmer of promise in the teams future. The last three conference games will be pivotal for MTSU as they look to gain momentum heading into the postseason.

Women’s team

The Blue Raiders’ women’s basketball team has had overwhelming success in conference play to this point in the season, and are in prime position to make a deep run in the conference tournament.

The conference schedule for the women started with three-straight wins, all coming on the road, before losing their first conference game to Southern Miss at the Murphy Center. Southern Miss would eventually hand the Blue Raiders their second conference loss of the season, winning the contest in Hattiesburg 70-65.

Both losses to the Golden Eagles were head-scratchers for Coach Insell and the Blue Raiders, who held leads deep into the second half. In both games, MTSU lost the lead late, and gave up two conference wins.

The Blue Raiders were on a four-game winning streak in conference play before their latest loss, a 63-60 defeat at the hands of WKU in Bowling Green.

WKU sits atop the conference standings, and with their win against MTSU, holds the tiebreaker overall. The Lady Topers sit at 12-2 in conference play, while the Blue Raiders are currently second in C-USA at 12-3.

MTSU closes out the regular season with three-straight home games against UAB, FAU and FIU. The Blue Raiders will look to at least maintain stay in the top two seeds for the conference tournament, but Southern Miss is right behind them at 11-4 in conference play. With the Golden Eagles holding the tiebreaker, it is crucial that MTSU earns at least two wins out of their last three conference games.

The women have been dominant for most of the season, winning big games, and having strong showings even in losses. Senior Cheyenne Parker has been key for the Blue Raiders, averaging a double-double with 18.6 points per game and 11 rebounds per game.

The duo of Parker and sophomore Olivia Jones has been the driving force of success for MTSU, with the pair being the second-highest scoring combo in the nation.

The Blue Raiders return home this weekend to face UAB, and then face both FAU and FIU in the Murphy Center next week to close out the regular season. Consistency will be key for MTSU, who will be looking to finish strong over these last few games before the conference tournament.

Both teams have plenty of work left to do though, before they try to make long runs in their conference tournaments. Look for both the men and the women to come out swinging here at the end of the season.

For more Blue Raider sports, follow us at www.mtsusidelines.com, on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines and on Twitter at @Sidelines_Sport.

To contact sports editor Connor Grott, email sports@mtsusidelines.com or follow him on Twitter at @Connor_Grott.

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