In the fifth installment of our 20ish-part series, Get to Know an Auto-Bid, we examine the East Tennessee State Buccaneers.
ETSU earned their ninth appearance in the NCAA Tournament with a 79-74 victory over UNC-Greensboro in the Southern Conference Championship Game Monday night.
The Buccaneers have won two times in the tournament, but their March history is most known for a loss. In 1989, ETSU earned a 16-seed and was matched up with the No. 1 seed Oklahoma.
The game was the closest ever between a one seed and a 16. ETSU pushed to Sooners to the brink and led with three minutes remaining before falling to OU 72-71
Also, my favorite NCAA Tournament player of all-time, Tim Smith, played at ETSU. In 2004, the Buccaneers were matched up with Cincinnati in a 13-4 first round matchup.
The Bucs ended up losing by three, but Smith put on a show. The 5’9″ point guard tore up the Bearcat defense as the diminutive southpaw went for 26 points.
ETSU finished with a 27-7 record and a 14-4 mark in conference this season. The Buccaneers finished in a three-way tie for the regular season crown, but because of tiebreakers, the Bucs were the three-seed in the conference tournament.
T.J. Cromer leads ETSU with 19 points per game, while Tevin Glass leads the Bucs on the glass with 6.1 rebounds per game.
The Buccaneers best win of the season came in a 67-65 win at Mississippi State. ETSU also matched up with potential tournament teams in Dayton, UNC-Wilmington, and Detroit. The Bucs defeated Detroit, but fell handily to the Seahawks and Flyers.
The Otter Room official projections have East Tennessee States slated for a No. 14 seed. There could be some fluctuation depending on how the other conference tournaments shake out, but ETSU is a veteran team that will not be a push over for any team.