ETSU (23-10) has several first-round wins and some near misses, and it gets another chance to make history against No. 2-ranked Pitt (28-4) in an opening NCAA Tournament matchup Friday at approximately 3 p.m. at UD Arena in Dayton, Ohio.
The Buccaneers nearly upset No. 1 seed Oklahoma in the 1989 NCAA Tournament, losing 72-71, but to this day no top seed lost in the first round. They also have first-round wins against Florida State in 1968 and Arizona in 1992 with close losses to Iowa in 1991, Wake Forest in 2003 and Cincinnati in 2004.
"There are a lot of good teams in our bracket, and I think it's pretty tough,'' Pittsburgh senior forward Sam Young said. "A lot of the guys think it's the toughest, but the only thing I can say is that we'll have to be ready to play every in every game. Starting with the first one. None of them will be easy.''
ETSU gets another shot to make history in its eighth NCAA appearance.
"We're very proud to be back in the NCAA Tournament,'' ETSU coach Murray Bartow said. "Pitt is an excellent team, and we look forward to the matchup.''
Bartow, in his sixth season at ETSU, formerly coached at Alabama-Birmingham. He took over for the Buccaneers when Ed DeChellis left for Penn State.
The only common opponent for Pitt and ETSU was the Buccaneers Atlantic Sun Conference foe Belmont, which the Panthers whacked 74-60 at the Petersen Events Center in November. ETSU went 2-1 against Belmont this season, winning by 30 points at home, losing 76-73 on the road and dominating 88-74 in the Conference Tournament.
ETSU's top "name'' opponent this season was Temple, which beat the Buccaneers 79-65 in the opening game. ETSU is relatively hot, entering the NCAA Tournament with five straight wins, while Pitt has won 10 of 12.
ETSU's leading scorer is senior Kevin Tiggs at 21.5 points per game and nearly 54-percent shooting from the field with nearly 36-percent shooting from 3-point range. Other top players are 6-6 senior Mike Smith and junior guard Courtney Pigram. Both are deadly 3-point shooters, and the Buccaneers like to fire it up with 33-percent shooting overall from beyond the arc. Smith is second all-time in scoring for ETSU with more than 2,000 career points.
The supporting cast for ETSU, which returns to the NCAA Tournament after a five-year absence, includes freshman forward Isaiah Brown, sophomore forward Tommy Hubbard, sophomore guard Micah Williams (Manchester) and senior forward Greg Hamlin.
Meet East Tennessee State University
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