Saint Mary's handles Middle Tennessee State in First Four; will the committee take notice?
In the at-large portion of Tuesday's First Four session, Saint Mary's locked down Middle Tennessee State and cruised to a comfortable 67-54 win. The Gaels will advance to face 6-seed Memphis in Auburn Hills on Thursday.
This was a matchup of the two teams with really suspect profiles that were given at-larges, and the Gaels clearly looked like the better team (which is what a comparison of the profiles suggested). Typically, you can't take a team's performance in the tournament as evidence that they should or should not have been selected, but in Middle Tennessee's case, there's a bit more of a correlated response possible.
The Blue Raiders had one top-100 win all season, by three at home over mercurial Ole Miss. They lost at Akron and at Belmont in addition to losing by 21 in a semi-road game to Florida. None of those results are poor in a vacuum, but it was small-sample evidence that this team couldn't handle NCAA tournament caliber opposition. And for the most part against the Gaels, MTSU did look outclassed. It was not a good showing for a smaller-conference team. The Gaels are decent but not of the caliber of the past few years, either.