Team preview: Middle Tennessee State

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(Information in this team report is as of October 1.)

Kermit Davis' third year at Middle Tennessee seemed to have "postseason" written all over it. By early January the Blue Raiders had won 11 of their last 13, including wins against VCU, Toledo and a 35-point victory against Arkansas-Little Rock, which would ultimately finish first for the second straight year in the Sun Belt East Division.

But then guard Mike Dean was injured and never was close to 100 percent after that. The Blue Raiders sputtered to a 7-7 league record and the NIT didn't come calling after a 14-point loss to Louisiana-Lafayette in the second round of the Sun Belt tournament.

Dean's nagging ailments came after promising freshman Brian Lake was lost for the year when he fractured his left tibia in the sixth game and fellow forward Darrio Scott left after playing nine games.

"It was crazy," Davis said. "We felt all of [the roster hits], but Mike Dean getting hurt changed our whole team. He probably shouldn't have tried to play. He's a tough guy and wanted to gut it out.

"Still, we won 19 games. That's a pretty good season."