The A-10 has four chances on Friday to knock off Power 5 teams. Let’s hope the conference can ride Rhody’s momentum into a few more big wins today.
Game of the Day: Rhode Island vs Virginia | 7:30 EST | ESPNU (NIT Tip-Off)
It’s undeniable that the A-10 has been struggling thus far. But last night, Rhody showed the first signs of life, as they knocked off #20 Seton Hall in the Barclays Center. The big story of the night was Jared Terrell, who continued his incredible senior campaign with a career high 32 points. Even more remarkable was his heavily contested game winning basket that he kissed off the glass with only five seconds left.
Virginia comes off of a 26 point massacre over Vanderbilt on Thursday, and may prove to be just as tough a task for the Rams. Although Virginia is unranked in the AP poll, they are 4th in Kenpom and are likely to ascend the rankings in the near future. The Cavaliers are paced by long range sniper Kyle Guy and 6-7 PF Isaiah Wilkins who cleans up the glass. The most impressive part of this Virginia team though is its depth. Not one player averages more than 30 minutes per game, and nine players average more than 15.
This will be a true battle, but I expect Rhody to continue to carry the A-10 on its back and to find a way to scrape out a win.
My Prediction: Rhode Island 79, Virginia 77
UMass vs #14 Minnesota | 12:00 EST | (Barclays Center Classic)
Umass hasn’t played a team ranked in the Kenpom top 100 this season. Friday could be a rude awakening for the Minutemen who get to face the AP #14 and Kenpom #26 Minnesota Gophers. The Minutemen are 3-1 though, a large part due to Luwane Pipkins, who has been outstanding in the early stages of his sophomore year. He’s averaging 22.3 points per game (more than double last year’s average), and is shooting 48.4% from behind the arc. For Umass to have a chance, they need Pipkins and the rest of the team to stay hot from behind the arc, while minimizing Junior forward Jordan Murphy, who is averaging nearly 24ppg. This will be a difficult game for a team that eked out a win over Western Carolina.
My Prediction: Umass 60, Minnesota 82
Saint Joseph’s vs Harvard | 4:00 EST | ESPN3 (Wooden Legacy)
What a tough loss to swallow for Saint Joseph’s last night. Up 14 at half, it seemed like the Hawks would cruise through the first round of the Wooden Legacy. In the second half though, they managed to surrender 51 points and ten three pointers, including the dagger with six seconds remaining. Luckily for these battered Hawks, they face a Harvard team averaging less than 70 points per game today. Saint Joseph’s simply can’t afford to lose today, and Phil Martelli does a great job of rallying his troops after a tough loss.
My Prediction: Saint Joseph’s 68, Harvard 60
George Washington vs Kansas State | 8:00 EST | (Las Vegas Invitational)
GW battled against #15 Xavier, keeping the game close for over 30 minutes. The Colonials were overmatched by Xavier’s inside game though, losing the battle in the paint 54-16. It seemed like the Musketeers couldn’t miss, especially in the second half when they shot 62.5% from the field. Unfortunately for GW, they don’t have a break from red hot offenses, as they face a Kansas State team averaging nearly 80 points per game tonight. KSU (#34 Kenpom) will be looking to avenge a brutal 90-92 loss last night, and will likely be too much for GW to handle.
My Prediction: George Washington 65, Kansas State 86
St. Bonaventure vs Maryland | 9:30 EST | CBSSN (Emerald Coast Classic)
The Bonnies have a chance to make up for a horrendous opening loss to Niagara by beating the Terps tonight. It won’t be easy though, as the Bonnies are expected to play without starting point guard Jaylen Adams and talented small forward Courtney Stockard. Maryland has health concerns as well, after one of their more talented guards, Darryl Morsell, strained a hamstring against Jackson State. Regardless, the Bonnies bigs will have their hands full containing Bruno Fernando down low and might struggle to stay out of foul trouble. It will be interesting to see who Schmidt sends out first at center. If last game was any indication, sophomore Amadi Ikpeze will get the nod. Since interior points may be hard to come by tonight, the Bonnies will need to keep firing from deep, and take advantage of their speed by getting to the rim before the Terps defense can get set. I expect this to be a close one.
My Prediction: St. Bonaventure 63 Maryland 70