Show Me My Opponent, 2020-21: Mississippi

If you think I can’t get some jokes off about a school that can’t figure out if it’s the Rebels or the Black Bears and has a coach named Kermit, you’re wrong. Just kidding, this is mostly joke-free; I have to leave those to the professionals.

Kermit Davis did more for Middle Tennessee basketball than most coaches do in their lifetime. Upon arrival in 2002, Davis took over a program just two seasons removed from going 1-15 in Sun Belt play. They hadn’t participated in the NCAA Tournament since 1989. There was no “culture” to speak around MTSU basketball, other than it being a profoundly mediocre experience for all involved. What Davis had to do was perform one of the most gradual rebuilds I can recall. Across his first nine seasons at MTSU, the Blue Raiders never won fewer than 15 games. They also never won more than 19.

Then 2011-2012 came, MTSU went 14-2 in Sun Belt play, and the school was forever changed. From that season to Kermit’s final run in 2017-18, MTSU not only won its first NCAA Tournament game in 27 years (as a 15 seed!), they came right back the next year and did it again. He got them ranked for the first time in school history. They won 24+ games six times in his final seven seasons. The job he did was objectively better than just about any other job done in the same time frame.

Kermit was born in Mississippi, played for his dad at Mississippi State, and after a 32-year break, moved back to Mississippi to coach an Ole Miss program with a similar lack of historical success. Seeing as Kermit is one of the nicest guys in basketball, I’ll be watching to see if he can pull two MTSUs in one career. It takes time.

The following game information section exists.

  • THE OPPONENT: Mississippi (8-8, 3-6).
  • THE TIME: 7 PM ET.
  • THE CHANNEL: ESPN2.
  • THE ANNOUNCERS: Kevin Fitzgerald (PBP) and Dane Bradshaw (color)!
  • THE SPREAD: Tennessee -4.5.

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NEXT PAGE: Musicians from Mississippi, ranked: 1. Robert Johnson 2. Mississippi John Hurt 3. Howlin’ Wolf 4. Elvis Presley 5. John Lee Hooker and I could have gone to 15. A lot easier than Kansas!

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