Conference: Southern (Auto-Bid)
Record: 27-7 (14-4)
NCAA Tournament Seed: 13 (East)
How they got here
East Tennessee State played the 151st ranked non-conference schedule and finished with a 10-3 record before heading into Southern Conference play. During conference play, the Buccaneers were solid throughout, never losing back-to-back games. They finished with a record of 14-4 in conference play, but lost their final game of the regular season to UNC Greensboro. The Buccaneers headed into the Southern Conference tournament as the No. 3 seed and went on to win the tournament, avenging their two losses to No. 1 seed UNC Greensboro in the final.
Why they’re a legitimate contender
The Buccaneers can put the ball in the bucket efficiently. As a team, the Bucs shoot 49.1 percent, which ranks 10th in the country. None of their starters shoot less than 45.4 percent and three of their starters shoot over 50 percent. The Buccaneers average 79.9 points per game and have the ability to pour it on offensively, eclipsing 100 points three times. To go along with its high powered offense, ETSU can get after it defensively. They are ranked 35th in the country with 4.8 blocks per game and 14th in the country in steals, averaging 8.4 per game. With their efficient scoring and activity on defense, the Buccaneers could be a trendy pick to pull off a few upsets.
Why they’re not a legitimate contender
While the Buccaneers can score at will, they are very turnover-prone. On average, they commit 14.8 turnovers per game, putting them at 313th in the country in that department. While they have racked up 504 total assists, they have committed 502 turnovers to combat that. ETSU is going to have to take care of the rock much more than they have if they are going to make a run in March.
Player to Watch: Guard T.J. Cromer
The 6-foot-3 senior guard leads the Buccaneers’ electric offense, leading the team in scoring with 19.1 points per game. Cromer has the ability to score from the inside and outside, shooting 45.4 percent from the floor and 40.4 percent from 3-point range. He is also a very efficient free throw shooter, shooting 82 percent from the stripe. The senior guard had 16 games this season in which he scored 20 or more points. Cromer is second on the team with 3.2 assists per game, but also leads the team in turnovers, committing 2.7 per game. Cromer could light it up in March and could be the catalyst for the Buccaneers in pulling off an upset.
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