From Furman Sports Information:
Furman will begin play in the 2011 CollegeInsider.com Tournament (CIT) on Tuesday night when the Paladins travel to Johnson City, Tenn., to face former Southern Conference rival East Tennessee State University in the opening round of the 24-team tournament. Tip-off at the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center is set for 7 p.m.
The Paladins, who have posted a 22-10 record this season and advanced to the semifinals of the SoCon Tournament a week ago, are making their first postseason appearance of any kind since losing 86-67 at West Virginia in the opening round of the 1991 NIT.
The CollegeInsider.com Tournament is in its third season of existence and features a single elimination format that begins with 24 teams. Following this week’s 12 first round games March 15-16, the top four remaining seeds will receive a bye into the quarterfinal round while the other eight remaining schools will take part in second round games scheduled for March 18-19. The CIT Championship Game, won by Old Dominion in 2009 and Missouri State last season, is set to be played March 30, and will be televised live by Fox College Sports.
Tuesday’s game will mark the first meeting between Furman and East Tennessee State since the Buccaneers withdrew from the SoCon to join the Atlantic-Sun Conference following the 2004-05 season. The all-time series between Furman and ETSU is knotted at 23-23 with the Bucs having won three of the last four meetings, including an 87-84 triumph over Furman in the opening round of the 2005 SoCon Tournament in their last meeting. The Paladins, however, have won two straight and four of their last five encounters with ETSU in Johnson City.
ETSU posted a 22-11 overall record and 16-4 mark in conference play this season, but was eliminated by North Florida, 59-55, in the semifinals of the A-Sun Tournament last week. Mike Smith, a 6-foot-6 guard and 2011 A-Sun Player-of-the-Year, leads three ETSU players in double figures averaging 17.3 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. The Bucs have posted an 11-1 record at home this season.
The Paladins, who notched the school’s first 20-win season in 20 years, have recorded the most victories by a Furman team since going 23-9 in 1979-80. Senior and All-SoCon selection Amu Saaka has led the Paladins this season averaging 16.0 points and 6.6 rebounds per game to rank as the only league player to place in the top 10 in both categories. A stingy Furman defense has allowed a SoCon-low 64.0 points per game and 42.1% opponent’s field goal percentage over 32 games so far this season.