Game of the Day: Davidson @ Nevada
The last undefeated team remaining in the Atlantic 10 will have its work cut out tonight. The Wildcats travel to Reno to face off against an up-and-coming Wolf Pack team. Musselman’s squad has more than exceeded expectations in its first 4 games, and following a home win over Rhode Island, it finds itself just outside the Top 25. This road battle presents an enormous opportunity for the Wildcats — should they remain hot and take down the MWC favorites, they’ll have a big win on their resume to bolster come March.
Both teams rank top 30 nationally in 3 point field goal percentage this season; Davidson ranks 3rd in effective field goal percentage while Nevada ranks 33rd. This should be an absolute shootout, and the Wildcats better hope to stay hot. Bob McKillop’s bunch has been absolutely lethal from downtown through just 2 contests, but the question remains: will that deadly shooting travel outside of Belk arena?
An enormous key for Davidson will be stopping Jordan Caroline, Nevada’s 6-7, 235 big who plays more like he’s 7 feet tall. He was a force against Rhode Island and arguably the reason the Rams didn’t steal one in Reno. Going for 28 points and 12 boards against Rhody, Caroline dismantled the Rams’ frontcourt. Davidson will have to keep him in check, as he’s emerging as one of the better frontcourt players in the nation. Should the Wildcats double in the post, they’ll have to be ready for the barrage of perimeter shooters Nevada has on deck.
Because of how hot they’ve been, and the fact that this is a road game for Davidson, I’m taking Nevada, but I really hope that I’m wrong — would be a huge win for the conference and the Wildcats.
Prediction: Nevada 87, Davidson 82
VCU vs. Cal (Maui Invitational)
The Rams looked solid against Marquette throughout the first half of the Maui Invitational opener. The 2nd half was another story though, as the Golden Eagles secured way too many offensive rebounds, leading to way too many second chance points. Through 2 games this year, it’s clear defense isn’t a strong suit for VCU. That may be an issue, as Cal led for a majority of yesterday’s contest against #6 Wichita St. Don Coleman put up 35 points and almost single-handedly took down the Shockers. I’m sure he’ll be all over VCU’s scouting report today, but the Rams also have to stop some absolute trees in the post. They’re really going to have their hands full.
Prediction: California 76, VCU 75
George Mason vs. Louisiana Tech (Cancun Challenge)
Honestly, it’s felt like Mason has had a worse season than what’s actually happened. That’s probably because it barely beat Cal St. Northridge and Lafayette at home, but a win is a win, and the Patriots are 3-1. Louisiana Tech will prove to be Mason’s 2nd hardest opponent this season; the Bulldogs are 3-0 but have weaknesses that can be exploited. It’s shooting just 31.1% from downtown this season, and that’s against weak opponents. If Grayer and Livingston catch fire from the outside, I think Mason has a good chance of surprising in this one.
Prediction: George Mason 71, Louisiana Tech 65
Richmond vs. Cincinnati (Cayman Islands Classic)
The first two games of the season were an absolute dumpster fire for Richmond, and I’m being generous. Despite all of that, the Spiders came out swinging in the Cayman Islands yesterday, scoring a double digit win over a UAB team that was a double digit favorite. Grant Golden showed up in a big way, going for 26 points and 7 rebounds in an absolute dismantling of the Blazers’ frontcourt. I can’t say UR will have the same level of success when it faces off against Cincinnati, but at least the Spiders are getting a quality opponent this afternoon.
Prediction: Cincinnati 83, Richmond 61
Massachusetts vs. Western Carolina
Sneakily, Massachusetts has been playing pretty solid thus far, and it could be a sleeper this year. A 101-76 win over Niagara looked very impressive, especially when you consider the Bonnies (without Adams) lost at home to the same team. LuWane Pipkins is more of a stud than any of us thought, and last contest, freshmen Carl Pierre even came out of his shell as well. Massachusetts should have no problem moving to 3-1 tonight.
Prediction: Massachusetts 77, Western Carolina 63