GoMiddle - FIU Preview
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FIU Preview

Let's try this again.

Middle Tennessee hopes to start conference play this Friday and Saturday at home versus Florida International. The Blue Raiders were slotted to play at Florida Atlantic last weekend but the games were postponed due to positive tests results of COVID-19 within the Blue Raider program. Their two prior scheduled games against Bellarmine were also canceled due to COVID-19. As a result, MTSU will have gone 23 days without playing a game by Friday's tipoff.

FIU has started the season 7-3 (1-1 in C-USA), splitting the double header with Old Dominion last weekend in their C-USA openers. They are led by junior guard Antonio Daye Jr., who is 5th in C-USA with 17.9 ppg, and 2nd in assists with 6.2.

The Panthers are at the top of the conference behind the arc, ranking 1st in 3PM and 3rd in 3P%. Daye Jr. shoots from long distance at a 44% clip, but he isn't alone. The Panthers have five players that average at least one made 3 per game and shoot 37% or better from that range. Per KenPom, FIU as a team ranks 32nd in the nation in 3p%, 50th in 2p%, and 20th in eFG%. Safe to say this is a high-octane offense that will put the Blue Raider defense to the test.

MTSU's problems remain the same but have increased in severity. As mentioned in the FAU preview that was deemed useless the day after being published, the Blue Raiders have, not constantly but consistently, struggled with chemistry and offensive flow in their six games this season. Now that they haven't played a game in over three weeks, it doesn't bode well for those issues being fixed this weekend.

The bright side is FIU has struggled on defense almost as much as they've thrived on offense. The Panthers are second to last in C-USA in both opponent points per game and opponent field goal percentage (per conferenceusa.com). Excluding a game against Carver College who only scored 34, FIU opponents are averaging 77 points a game. Middle's season high is 76 points against Covenant College. Maybe this is the game they need to help find their offensive identity.

Both games will available to watch on ESPN+. Friday's game tips at 6 pm, Saturdays will start at 4 pm.