Breaking it down

While Middle Tennessee missed out on the Big Dance yet again, a decent consolation comes this season in the form on an automatic birth to the National Invitation Tournament. Even though a juicy matchup with Tennessee potentially awaits the Blue Raiders in the second round, here's a few keys to beating Marshall, and getting a chance to prove themselves.

Make Someone Other Than Kane Beat You
Marshall's offense begins and ends with DeAndre Kane. Kane is a super sophomore who's taken the lead in his first two seasons of play with the Thundering Herd. He's got great size at 6-4 and has to be the middle of everyone's attention in this first round matchup. Kane can score in bunches, notching 40 just last week, and averaging 16 a game.

Look for Kermit to run some sort of extra pressure at Kane to force the rest of the Herd to try and beat Middle. Tournament basketball is a guard-oriented game, and Kane has the ability to beat a team on his own. Though Marshall has another guard, Damier Pitts, who averages 14 a game, but doesn't quite have the size at 5-10.

All in all, keeping Kane at bay is the biggest key for a Middle win.

Hit the Boards
Win the glass, win the game – that should be the motto for Middle Tennessee Tuesday night. Marshall hits the glass, as good as any team in the country. They average almost 40 rebounds a game, which is good enough for eighth in the country, and sit at sixth in rebound margin, with plus eight rebounds a game. Middle on the other hand, not the best rebounding team. Marshall doesn't have an inside presence that they can rely on scoring in double figures, but that might be because they rely on their rebounding presence and let their guards do the scoring. Middle's big men are going to have to win the battle on the boards if they want to win this one.

Use The Inside Presence
If Laron Dendy wants a chance to impress NBA scouts more than he already has, here's his shot. Marshall only plays about eight players more than ten minutes a game, and of those eight, only two are as big as Dendy, and none as athletic and dominate on the block. Dendy has a chance to take over this NIT contest, and get Middle out of the funk they ended their regular season and conference tournament with.

The Blue Raiders have the fourth highest field goal percentage in the country, and that is in part because they work the ball inside and get good looks. This has to be the case Tuesday night for Middle to win. Marshall doesn't have a ton of depth, and getting the Thundering Herd into foul trouble, would only complicate matters for them. Work it inside early and often, and the Blue Raiders should be heading to Knoxville.

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