2019 NCAA tournament preview: Murray State

Murray State Racers: 27-4, 16-2 in the Ohio Valley Conference

Head Coach: Matt McMahon (4th season) 

Players to Watch: Ja Morant (24.6 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 10.0 APG); Shaq Buchanan (13.0 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 1.8 SPG)

Season Recap: Murray State tore through the season in no small part due to the heroics of sophomore Ja Morant. Morant, expected to be a top-three pick in this summer's NBA Draft has been an absolute dynamo, throwing down dunks, getting it done from the perimeter and making touch passes. The Racers faltered against Alabama and then-No. 7 Auburn early in the year, but in conference play, apart from two losses in three games during the heart of the schedule, Murray State convincingly downed all challengers. 

The Racers followed up a strong regular season with wins against Jacksonville State and Belmont in the conference tournament, avenging regular-season losses those opponents dealt the Racers. 

How they make a run: In Morant, Murray State could have the single most explosive player in the country not named Zion Williamson. If Morant is hot, then he could propel the Racers deep into the bracket much like Stephen Curry did at Davidson over a decade ago. 

How they falter: Outside of Morant and Shaq Buchanan, Murray State has little consistent offensive identity. If Morant cannot put the team on his back, the Racers' dance will end swiftly. Murray State has faltered against all of its Power-5 competition this season, so the Racers simply may not be able to keep up with a more physically dominant or polished team.


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