It’s been a quiet week, with most schools on break for Christmas week. Rhode Island saw the only action of the week, with three games in the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii. The Rams went 1-2, with a win over Charlotte, and losses to Bucknell and Hawaii, finishing in 6th place.
Now, let’s take a look at the top games of the weekend:
Saturday December 29
Davidson at #14 North Carolina| 12 ET | ESPN2
There are some huge road tests for A-10 schools this weekend, but without a doubt, this is the biggest. A year ago, North Carolina escaped with a narrow 85-75 win over the Wildcats. This year, the ‘Cats need this win now more than ever, but it’s going to be even more of an uphill battle if Kellan Grady is unable to go, still battling an injury. UNC enters 8-3, with wins over UCLA and Gonzaga, and loses to Texas, Michigan, and most recently, Kentucky. The Tar Heels are ranked KenPom #7, and are #20 in the NET Rankings. Yeah, this is a damn good team. Davidson is going to have their hands full, but if they can pull this one out, the Wildcats are going to feel a heck of a lot better about their NCAA Tournament hopes than if they can’t get it done.
St. Bonaventure at Syracuse| 2 ET | ESPNU
One year removed from their OT victory in the Carrier Dome, the Bonnies will look to repeat the upset, when they travel back to Syracuse. The Orange are 8-4, with a pair of back-to-back loses, first to UConn and Oregon, followed by Old Dominion and Buffalo. Granted, all four loses are to top KemPom top-100 teams, but the latter two came at home. This is not an invincible Syracuse team by any stretch of the imagination. Granted, the Bonnies have dropped three-straight, to Buffalo, Vermont and Northeastern, but all three were also KenPom top-100 teams. St. Bonaventure had been dreadfully inconsistent this year, but if they put forth a good showing, they could sneak up on Syracuse tonight.
George Mason at Kansas State | 8 ET | ESPN3/FSN-Kansas City
This is a game that, while it may have looked a bit more appetizing at the beginning of the year, still carries intrigue nonetheless. A year removed from an Elite 8 appearance, and a preseason ranking of #12 in the AP Poll, expectations were high for Kansas State, as they were for Mason in their own right. K-State has fallen off a lot of people’s radar already, though they boast a 9-2 record, with their only losses coming to Marquette and Tulsa. The Wildcats have three KenPom top-100 wins to their name this season, in Penn, Missouri and most recently, Vanderbilt. Mason is a team that in their own right, has fallen off a lot of people’s radar. The Patriots have climbed back to .500, winning four of their last five games heading into their non-conference finale. This is definitely a game to keep an eye on tonight.
Sunday December 30
UMass at Georgia | 6 ET | SECN
This is an intriguing matchup for the same reasons that K-State and Mason is: both teams have fallen a bit off the radar. UGA is 7-4 while UMass is 7-5, but both still rank in the KenPom top-150. Georgia still is looking for a top-100 win, with their best win to date coming in their last outing against #101 Georgia Tech. On the UMass side, with the exception of the Nevada game, the Minutemen have loss four games by a total of 14 points, which is a brutal stat. If UMass can find a way to hang around here, they could be in position to make a run late.
A Look at the Week Ahead…
Following the Christmas break, It’s another slow week, but next weekend is where the real fun begins. Duquesne will play the final A-10 non-conference game of the season when they host NJIT on Monday afternoon. Saint Joseph’s will kick off the conference slate when they host George Mason Thursday night before the full conference slate kicks off next weekend.