BTH Gameday: Middle Tennessee brings 11-game win streak to UALR

It’s really easy to see why Middle Tennessee is so good this year. Just look at their rotation.

Starters: Senior, senior, senior, junior and junior. Reserves: Senior, senior, junior, junior and junior. That’s 5 seniors and 5 juniors in the rotation.

No wonder Middle Tennessee (22-4, 14-1) is running away with the Sun Belt Conference title this year. The Blue Raiders have increased their Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) to 30 and have won 11 consecutive games going into tonight’s 7 p.m. game with UALR (15-11, 9-6) at the Jack Stephens Center.


If UALR has any hopes of winning the Sun Belt’s West Division, the Trojans likely have to either win today or sweep next week’s trip to Florida. A loss today won't eliminate UALR from anything. But it would force the Trojans to win their final four games of the regular season.


UALR Coach Steve Shields’ teams are 10-3 all-time in revenge games (the second game vs. a team that beat them by 10 or more points in the first meeting). But that record includes 0-2 this season, losing rematches with Louisiana Tech and South Alabama. UALR lost the first meeting to Middle Tennessee by 32 points.


We don’t know the status of UALR sophomore guard Taggart Lockhart, who missed the ULM game with a concussion and had to leave the ASU game after getting hit in the head.

BTH Keys to victory

Make it take it: Middle Tennessee is 22-0 when it shoots a higher field goal percentage than its opponent. They’re 0-4 when they shoot worse. It’s a tough task. The Blue Raiders shoot 46.3 percent from the field, by far the best in the Sun Belt. And they only give up 40 percent, which is also best in the Sun Belt.
Back that glass up: When Middle Tennessee is even or ahead in rebounds, the Blue Raiders are 19-2. They’re only 3-2 when they get outrebounded. Middle Tennessee leads the Sun Belt with a +6.3 rebound margin.
Come out swinging: UALR really has nothing to lose in this game. And the Trojans can’t afford to get behind. UALR needs to come out swinging with everything they’ve got in the first 10 minutes.


Middle Tennessee opens as a nine-point favorite in the Las Vegas line.


It's safe to say CBS Sportsline's love affair with UALR has ended. After picking UALR to upset ASU on Thursday, CBS predicts a major blowout today. Here's the rest of the picks:
Omni Rankings (13-4): MTSU 70, UALR 62
Real Time RPI (19-6): MTSU 66, UALR 65
Jeff Sagarin (17-7): MTSU 83, UALR 73
The Sports Network (17-7): MTSU 67, UALR 63
CBS Sportsline (15-9): MTSU 77, UALR 60
BTH Average (16-8): MTSU 72.6, UALR 64.6