TSU Presents ‘Huge’ Test For Racers
Late Thursday night, Matt McMahon was sitting next to Neal Bradley for his post-game radio show when Racer radio play-by-play announcer turned to the next game. Bradley had barely gotten the words, “big game coming up on Saturday…,” out of his mouth before the Racer head coach quickly responded, “Huge.”
Saturday’s matchup against Tennessee State is no ordinary Ohio Valley Conference opener. It is, well, huge.
With the OVC looking a bit stronger – or perhaps less weak from top to bottom – it is vital that the Racers to get off to a solid start. Starting the OVC slate against a Tennessee State squad which is considered to be the best OVC team heading into OVC play is a tall order in and of itself, but following Saturday’s game the Racers hit the road for four straight league games.
Following Saturday’s New Year’s Eve game, the Racers head to Jacksonville State to face a team that blew away UT-Martin Thursday night in Martin before heading on to Tennessee Tech. Next on the two-week road trip are a pair of games at Eastern Illinois – which is vastly improved and a real contender in the OVC West – and SIU-Edwardsville, a place the Racers have struggled to win in years past.
So the OVC schedule makers challenged the Racers right out of the gate, but it all starts with Tennessee State.
Coming into the game 9-3, the Tigers have only lost to Vanderbilt, North Carolina State (in OT) and Duke and have an impressive 11-point win at Middle Tennessee. The Tigers, who start three seniors and a junior, are by far the OVC’s best defensive team and the second-best rebounding team. In fact, this TSU team sort of resembles the Racers’ outstanding 2012 squad in their experience, toughness and ability (and willingness) to defend.
With four straight road games facing a Racer team which has not won on the road yet in 2016-17, a victory on Saturday would be huge. It would likely overtake the Illinois State win as the season’s best victory and it would give the struggling Racers a boost of confidence heading into conference play.