La Salle vs UMass
In the first game of the A-10 Tournament, the Explorers and Minutemen will square off to make it to the next round to face George Mason. While they split the their two games during the regular season, it is important to note one thing. When UMass won in overtime at home, the Explorers were without 2nd Team All-Conference player B.J. Johnson. When Johnson was back in their second game, the Explorers cruised to a 15 point victory. Johnson had 26 points in that game.
If UMass wants to advance to the next round, Pipkins is going to need some help. As seen from there recent win over Duquesne, 4 other players were in double figures. If those guys can get going today, it will open up some more opportunities for Pipkins, and create a flowing UMass offense.
For La Salle, it will come down to there tandem of Powell and Johnson. When both these guys are going, it is really hard to stop them. This is a team that, without those two overtime losses early in A10 play, could’ve been a 7 or 8 seed. UMass needs to find a way to slow these two down, or the Explorers will have their way.
Looking ahead, this is the part of the bracket that leads to the most possibilities. The winner will face a George Mason team that has had an up and down season and is definitely beatable. Expect Johnson and Pipkins to be playing hard after being excluded from the First Team All-Conference. This will be an intense game, but I expect the Explorers to pull it out late.
George Washington vs Fordham
A couple weeks ago, without Joseph Chartouny, the Rams of Fordham put on their best game of the season and routed the Duquesne Dukes. Since then, they have lost 6 in a row and have only been competitive in one of them. George Washington, on the other hand, has won 4 of their last 6, and have been enjoying the great play of Yuta Watanabe.
In their first and only meeting this year, the Colonials easily defeated the Rams by 16 in a game that featured Watanabe putting up 31 points. If he has another game like that, Fordham will not have a chance, so it will be important for the Rams to find a way to shut him down.
Offensively speaking, Fordham has had a lot more bad than good. While Chartouny has been scoring a lot more recently, it has not resulted in better results, but rather worse. If Fordham gets going, as seen in that Duquesne game, they are hard to defend. It’s just, well, they haven’t really been able to get going all season.
I expect Fordham to hang in it early, but there offense will not be able to put up enough points on a Colonials’ defense that has the defensive player of the year.
The winner will play Saint Louis.