William & Mary (10-14, 4-9) at Old Dominion (3-22, 1-12) – 12:00 – Comcast SportsNet
It’s time to revisit that lone December conference matchup, as ODU finally gets a chance to even the score with its Tidewater foe. The Tribe used a 14-2 second-half run to get the 71-62 win.
ODU, coached by Jim Corrigan, has played significantly better in its last three games. Dmitri Batten and Donte Hill seem to be the biggest benefactors of the coaching change. Going up against the talented Tribe backcourt, they’ll need to be productive today.
ODU actually averages 58 shots per game, which puts the Monarchs at 59th in the nation. Unfortunately, they’re shooting just 39.1% from the field, which puts them 317th in the nation, and only six teams in the country are worse from three-point range than the Monarchs (27.1%). The 2012-2013 Monarchs are to shooting what Happy Gilmore is to ice skating.
Thus, the Monarchs will need to shoot efficiently to keep pace with the Tribe, who rank 62nd with a 45.5% shooting mark, including 51.8% from inside the arc – a credit to Tim Rusthoven and Kyle Gaillard. But considering that W&M’s win over ODU in December was the Tribe’s first since 2008, you have to think ODU will get up and play well for the big game.
Monarchs 72, Tribe 69 (OT)
Georgia State (13-14, 8-6) at George Mason (15-10, 8-5) – 4:00 – Comcast SportsNet
I expect each of today’s games to be entertaining, but this is the game of the day. These teams match up well, but for different reasons. Georgia State is led by the balanced scoring of RJ Hunter, Manny Atkins and Devonta White. George Mason is led by Sherrod Wright, and eight players that have averaged at least 4.7 points in CAA play.
Jonathan Arledge has been Wright’s much-needed sidekick during CAA play. He’s averaging 9.8 points in conference games. Bryon Allen has done a great job of getting his teammates involved, and has averaged 7.8 assists per game over Mason’s last four games.
You know you’re shooting efficiently when you go 7-of-12 from three over a four-game span and it lowers your shooting percentage. Corey Edwards is shooting 62.5% from three this season.
Having shot 6-of-26 (23.1%) in the past two games, I’m tempted to make the borderline ridiculous statement that RJ Hunter has hit the ‘freshman wall’. Realistically, I’m pretty sure that just means he’ll go off in Fairfax.
But that’s far from a given, and he could struggle if matched up with Sherrod Wright. Despite scoring just 21 points over the last two games (yes, just 21 points) RJ is averaging 18.7 points during conference play. RJ scored 27 points in Georgia State’s wins at Towson and Northeastern, so George Mason has to be wary of an RJ explosion.
Other than that, the Patriots are starting to get the consistent production from the point guards and bigs that will make them a contender in March. Wright hasn’t scored more than 12 points in two weeks. Look for that to change today, as he leads the Patriots to an important home win.
Patriots 70, Panthers 66
Towson (14-13, 9-5) at Hofstra (6-19, 3-9) – 4:00
Dustin Semonavick’s preview for this game features three statistical categories where Towson leads the CAA: points scored (73.9 per game), rebounding margin (+6.4) and blocked shots (5.8) per game.
So while Northeastern’s Bill Coen gets his proper credit, it’s a little absurd to exclude Pat Skerry from a list like this.
Hofstra’s 43 points scored in the loss to Georgia State were the team’s second-lowest offensive output of the season. The Pride rank 331st in D1 in points scored, averaging 58.1 per game. So it’s quite problematic when leading scorer Taran Buie shoots 22.8% over a five-game span.
Despite marked improvements from Jordan Allen, Stephen Nwaukoni and (to an extent) David Imes, Hofstra desperately needs Buie to be the ace-in-the-hole. It’s tough to expect that from a sophomore who didn’t play much as a freshman. Stevia Mejia has helped pick up the slack, as he’s scored 18 points in each of his last two games.
Hofstra’s defense will keep the Pride in the game, but Towson is capable of getting the even production that makes things difficult for a team that isn’t very deep. The Tigers have five players averaging in double figures during conference games. Hofstra’s got just two. The Pride will be tough at home, but I like Towson here.
Tigers 66, Pride 60
Northeastern (17-9, 12-2) at UNCW (9-16, 4-9) – 7:00
Way, way back on the first #caahoops Saturday of 2013, the Seahawks gave the Huskies all they could handle. Tanner Milson made six 3-pointers in the Seahawks’ four-point loss at Matthews.
A banged up Northeastern team treks down to Trask, where the Seahawks are 8-3 this season. Joel Smith is expected to play, although it’s probably not fair to expect him to be at 100%.
In the Delaware-Northeastern pregame, we mentioned that Delaware had a good chance because the Blue Hens are efficient at creating second chances. Against a physical Blue Hens’ frontcourt, Reggie Spencer fouled out in 21 minutes of play, so we can expect Keith Rendleman to be another tough matchup for Spencer. And for what it’s worth, UNCW pulls in more offensive rebounds (on a per game basis) than Delaware.
You have to think this is a spot where Rendleman, who has just three games left at Trask, can take advantage of an undersized frontcourt. Cedrick Williams should be in for a good game since he’s, you know, playing at home , where he’s averaging 9.0 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.4 blocks (he’s averaging 3.8 points, 5.0 rebounds and 0.7 blocks away from Trask).
UNCW has the frontcourt advantage, but UNCW’s guard play is obviously the key. The Seahawks turn the ball over on 19.2% of their possessions: not good when you’re going against a team takes care of the ball and make you pay for your mistakes.
Did you know Northeastern ranks second in D1 with a 90% road winning percentage? The Huskies are tied with MIami for that mark. The Memphis Tigers (have somehow only played six road games) are first in that category. Horses for courses, that makes it hard to pick a UNCW upset, against a Husky team that gets a big lift with the return of Joel Smith.