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December 20, 2013

Preview: MT at Cincinnati

PREVIEW: MIDDLE TENNESSEE AT CINCINNATI:

For the second Saturday in a row, the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (8-3) will hit the road to take on a tough out of conference opponent. This time around, MT will face off against the Cincinnati Bearcats (8-2). The Blue Raiders will be looking to turn their road woes around and get back to .500 on the year when playing away from home.

The Bearcats, on the other hand, will be looking to get back to their winning ways as they have lost two out of their last three games after starting the season off by winning their first seven games.

MT last played on Tuesday when they took on Tennessee Temple and, once again, the Blue Raiders put up over 100 points. MT put on an offensive and a defensive clinic, defeating Tennessee Temple 102-52 behind the hot hand of Freshman Reggie Upshaw, who put up 18 points and eight rebounds.

Cincinnati also last played on Tuesday when they took on Pittsburgh inside Madison Square Garden for the Jimmy V Classic. The game was tough on both teams from the onset, as they each struggled to put up points. In a close back and forth game, the Bearcats would pull out a 44-43 victory to hand the Panthers their first loss of the season.

This will be just the third meeting between these two programs. The Blue Raiders are 0-2 against the Bearcats, with both contests happening on the road, and head coach Kermit Davis is 0-1 against the Bearcats during his tenure. The two teams have not played since 2003, when Cincy defeated MT, 89-54.

THE GAME BREAKDOWN:

Offense:

Middle Tennessee enters the contests averaging an astonishing 93 points per game in their last three games. This number can be overlooked as two of those games were against lower tiered opponents, but it does show what the Blue Raider offense can do when they are clicking. In those three games, MT has shot an average of 51 percent from the field, 30 percent from the three-point line and 66 percent from the free throw line.

In addition to shooting the ball well, the Blue Raiders have done a great job getting second chance points as they have averaged 18 offensive rebounds per game in that same span.

While MT has been firing on all cylinders of late, the Cincinnati offense has been fairing the exact opposite, averaging just 48 points per game in their last three. The main reason for the low offensive output has been due to shooting inefficiencies. The Bearcats have shot just 34 percent from the field, 28 percent from behind the arc and 60 percent from the charity stripe during this three game stretch.

When it comes to second chance points, Cincy has averaged 13 offensive boards per game, which could be a key thing to watch for between these two teams.

Defense:

On the defensive side of the ball, the Blue Raiders have given up an average of 63 points per game in their last three contests. MT has held those opponents to 38 percent shooting from the field, 27 percent from the 3-point line and have sent them to the free throw line an average of 28 times per.

When it comes to the boards, the Blue Raiders have controlled the glass, averaging 32 defensive boards per game in the three game span.

As for the Bearcats, they are known for their stout defense and that has been the case in their last three games as they have allowed an average of just 57 points per game to their opponents. While the point totals are low the Bearcats are letting the opposition score at some pretty high rates, including 46 percent from the field and 39 percent from behind the arc while sending their opponents to the charity stripe an average of 32 times per game.

In the rebounding department, Cincy has struggled, averaging just 16 defensive boards per game in this three game stretch.

THE PREDICTION:

This game will certainly be a clash between two teams with two completely different styles of play. The Blue Raiders like to shoot the ball and can play fast while controlling the boards, while the Bearcats like to slow the game down and play lockdown defense.

In my opinion, this game will come down to who can control of the flow of the game and force the other team to play out of their element. Interestingly enough, I expect Middle Tennessee to be able to come out on top in this matchup, as their rebounding on both ends of the floor will contribute heavily. Look for MT to edge Cincinnati in a close one.

Final Score: MT 65, Cincinnati 60



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