March Madness: Why ETSU basketball could be Cinderella

Since Steve Forbes took over at East Tennessee State five years ago, Johnson City, Tenn., has been home to one of the most consistent mid-major programs in the country. Forbes has his best ETSU team yet in 2019-20, and the Buccaneers officially punched their ticket to the NCAA tournament Monday with a 72-58 victory over Wofford in the Southern Conference championship game.

Picked first in the SoCon in the preseason by both the coaches and media, ETSU has lived up to the hype and more. Hanging tough for 40 minutes against Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse was an early sign this team could be special, but a road win over LSU in December was proof that ETSU was for real. It wasn’t just that ETSU beat an SEC contender, but how it beat the Tigers. The Bucs grabbed 19 offensive rebounds against a team that finished second in the SEC in rebounding margin. Despite shooting only 8 for 26 from deep and leading scorer Tray Boyd scoring just nine points, ETSU led by 23 late in the second half and essentially dominated one of the most athletic teams in Division I.

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