For the first time in school history, the Middle Tennessee men's basketball program has cracked the USA Today Coaches Poll Top 25.
The Blue Raiders (27-4, 17-1) have flirted with the Top 25 in both the Coaches and Associated Press Polls all season, finally receiving a season-high 30 votes to move into the 25th spot in the Coaches Poll.
Middle Tennessee's 14 wins away from home and 11 true road wins on the year both rank in the Top 5 nationally, all while playing a grueling schedule that includes the 19th ranked non-conference strength of schedule in the nation.
"Our team has played against a Top 20 non-conference schedule in the nation, won 14 games away from home and gotten 11 true road wins," Head Coach Kermit Davis said. "It's been a hard road against some of the best competition in the country, and that's what makes this accomplishment that much more meaningful."
The Blue Raiders set a Conference USA record for league wins in 2017, posting 17 on the year with 14 of the wins coming by double digits as they cruised to the regular season championship. The 27 total wins also ties a Middle Tennessee record for wins in the regular season and leaves the team just one win shy of the school's all-time record of 28 wins.
The recognition has been a long time coming as Middle Tennessee has won 24 or more games in five of the last six seasons and frequently received votes in each of the polls over that span. The Blue Raiders have now won 150 games over the last six seasons, more than any other Division I school in the state of Tennessee.
"This is really a recognition of four great months of basketball, but it goes beyond that to all of the hard work that our staff and players have put in for months and years prior," Athletic Director Chris Massaro said. "The exposure we'll get this week just from being ranked is invaluable to our program."
The Blue Raiders next challenge is a trip to Birmingham for the Conference USA Championships, where they will look to win three games in three days and seal their spot in the field of 68 for a return trip to the NCAA Tournament where they knocked off No. 2 Michigan State a season ago in perhaps the biggest upset in NCAA Tournament history.
"We're very proud as a program and extremely happy for our players and fans, especially for this to happen in the final poll of the year," Davis added. "That really shows that we've put together a body of work across the entire season that is really worthy of this recognition."
Middle Tennessee also received a season-high 28 votes in the AP Poll this week, leaving it just one spot shy of cracking the Top 35 in both major polls.