College Hoops

What to know about Colorado’s first-round opponent Middle Tennessee

What to know about Colorado’s first-round opponent Middle Tennessee

One year after falling to Creighton in the first round, No. 6 seed Colorado has a shot at redemption with a matchup against No. 11 Middle Tennessee on Saturday to open the NCAA Tournament.

So who are these Blue Raiders? To start big picture, they owned the Conference USA, winning the regular season crown by a whopping four games before defeating Western Kentucky in the league title game. Middle Tennessee, which enters the Big Dance 28-4, also has wins over then-No. 18 Louisville, Memphis and Houston.

Led by 18th-year head coach Rick Insell, the Blue Raiders have a quartet of players who average over 10 points: Kseniya Malashka (15.2), Savannah Wheeler (15.1), Jalynn Gregory (13.7) and Courtney Whitson (10.4).  Whitson enters as their top rebounder (7.9 per game) and Wheeler averages just over three assists per game.

Last season, Middle Tennessee fell to Seton Hall in the WNIT semifinals.

“Middle Tennessee is a really great team,” CU head coach JR Payne said. “I think they’re probably the best mid-major team in the country. They play hard, they’re tough, fearless, everything you want in a basketball team. It’s definitely a challenging matchup for both teams. It will be a great game.”

Tipoff is at 5 p.m. MT on ESPNews from Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium.

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