Preview: Tennessee State


Rafters World Headquarters is really busy with the holidays and all, but before we get stuffed on Thursday, there’s time for a quick preview of the Heels second opponent of the week, Tennessee State. We’ll try and wrap-up the first two games of the Las Vegas Invitational tomorrow.

You’ve never heard of TSU from the Ohio Valley Conference you say? Well, don’t sleep on the Tigers, who just beat South Carolina on the road Sunday night in their opening Las Vegas Invitational game. It was TSU’s first ever win against an SEC opponent. Let’s hope they don’t make it a habit; they’re 0-5 against ACC competition.

  • The Tigers’ main force is forward Robert Covington, who had 16 points and 8 boards against USC. He’s led TSU in scoring in every game this year. At 6’9″, he’ll be mismatched against the taller and longer UNC forwards of Zeller and Henson, who should provide him with his greatest challenge of the year so far. Where he might be able to be a nuisance is from beyond the arc. Covington was 3-7 from three against the Gamecocks, showing that he can make them and also is willing to chuck up quite a few.
  • TSU assistant coach Rick Duckett is a Carolina grad and was a graduate assistant coach at UNC when Roy was there the first time in 1979.
  • Per usual the Heels should be able to capitalize on their size advantage. Covington is the tallest player seeing significant minutes for the Tigers.
  • Jordan Cyphers is a 3-point threat off the bench for TSU and was second in scoring against USC.

While the Tigers look to have some fight in them, as well as some skill, the Gamecocks they beat are no Tar Heels. USC is picked to finish at or around the bottom of the SEC, which like the ACC is something of a top-heavy league this year. It’s also in Chapel Hill. I’m going with the home team advantage, bigtime.

Prediction:

UNC 93, Tennessee State 55