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Andy Wittry | | March 11, 2020

2020 NCAA tournament preview: Get to know SoCon champion East Tennessee State

ETSU defeats Wofford, 72-58

In Steve Forbes' first four seasons at East Tennessee State, the Buccaneers won exactly 100 games but had just one NCAA tournament appearance to show for it.

In his fifth season, they picked up their 30th win of the 2019-20 campaign with a 72-58 win over No. 7-seeded Wofford in the Southern Conference tournament championship. East Tennessee State swept the conference's regular season and conference tournament titles, edging Furman by a game in the regular-season standings, and winning all three of its conference tournament games by at least 13 points.

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Here's everything you need to know about 2020 Southern Conference tournament champion East Tennessee State.

East Tennessee State: Record, quick facts

Record: 30-4 (16-2 SoCon)
Conference standing: 1st
NET ranking: No. 39 (as of March 9)
NCAA tournament appearances: 10
Best NCAA tournament seed: No. 10 (1991)
Best NCAA tournament finish: Lost in the regional semifinal in 1968

East Tennessee State hasn't lost since January as the Bucs have won their last 12 games. Few teams, if any, in the 2020 NCAA tournament will enter March Madness with a winning streak that long. Their single-greatest skill is making a high percentage of their 2-point attempts — 55.2 percent, to be exact, which ranks 11th nationally.

Forbes' crew ranked third in offensive efficiency in SoCon play and second defensively, while ranking 72nd and 65th nationally in those two metrics, respectively.

In addition to scoring with ease around the rim on offense, the Buccaneers crash the glass hard (31.9% offensive rebounding percentage) and get to the free throw line with regularity (36.8 FTA/FGA rate). They're slightly above average at 3-point shooting and taking care of the ball.

Defensively, the Bucs do a good job of forcing turnovers (22.4% turnover rate) and limiting opponents to just one shot attempt (73.8% defensive rebounding percentage).

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This is a veteran team with players who are experienced in sharing the court with one another. East Tennessee State ranks 31st in minutes continuity and 37th in experience, according to The Bucs' rotation includes five seniors and two juniors, and the members of their senior class were freshmen the last time the school made the NCAA tournament in 2017.

While senior guard Tray Boyd III has only started 12 games this season, he's the team's leading scorer at 13.7 points per game, while Bo Hodges (12.9 ppg) and Daivien Williamson (10.5 ppg) also average double figures. The team's top nine scorers are non-freshmen.

While the Buccaneers typically play lineups with four players who are 6-5 or shorter, they do have a 7-footer in Lucas N'Guessan, who led the Southern Conference in effective field goal percentage and true shooting percentage, and ranked in the top 10 in offensive rebounding percentage, defensive rebounding percentage and block percentage.

East Tennessee State has been one of the winningest programs in the country in the last half-decade and now the Buccaneers are getting another chance at the national spotlight in March.

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