Murray State is underappreciated.
We’ve been following them all season, they past both the eye test and look good statistically. They’re a real basketball team.
As the last team to lose in the regular season, the Racers moved in to college basketball fans’ line-of-sight with wins over Dayton and Memphis, and they solidified themselves as the game’s best mid-major when they defeated St. Mary’s during BracketBusters weekend.
This team almost entered the tournament undefeated, but are probably asking themselves what a 31-1 team has to do to get some respect around here.
Unreported injuries, sicknesses, off-nights due to minds being elsewhere for whatever reason; playing near perfect basketball for four months is incredibly difficult. I don’t care what league you play in, what the perceived disparity of talent you’re dealing with, being able to consistently compete at a high level in a team sport involves being successful both on and off the court.
As a six-seed, the Racers get Marquette this afternoon in their third-round match-up.
A trendy pick to reach the Final Four, the Golden Eagles are no slouch as the Racers opponent, but an interesting take from Jae Crowder probably means Buzz Williams was up late last night game-planning against a hungry and dangerous mid-major after a number of unforeseen upsets occurred last night.
Some of the Golden Eagles players were asked Friday if Murray State reminded them of any previous opponents, and Crowder picked Norfolk State, which Marquette beat twice early in the season. “They like to get up and down a little bit,” Crowder said of Murray State in his comparison with Norfolk State. “They have good guard play as well.”
For a team like Marquette, who operates a bit like Missouri, to compare Murray State to Norfolk State could mean there’s ominous clouds forming over Louisville, only this game might not be an upset, it may just be the Racers are talented and poised enough for a deep tournament run.
The Racers have earned my respect, but deserve a lot more.
A win today would give affirmation to the program’s best season in school history.