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Massachusetts (24-11) at Drexel (29-6)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Tuesday, March 20, 7:00 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Daskalakis Athletic Center (2,532) -- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Television: ESPN. NIT Record: UMass 12-12, Drexel 2-5. Series Record: Massachusetts leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: The Massachusetts Minutemen and Drexel Dragons are set to duke it out in the quarterfinal round of the National Invitation Tournament at the Daskalakis Athletic Center.
This will be just the second meeting between UMass and Drexel. The Minutemen won the only previous encounter which took place in the 1996-1997 season. The winner of this bout will advance to the semifinal round in New York City.
UMass defeated Seton Hall, 77-67, on the road its last time out in the second round of the NIT to stay alive. The Minutemen pushed past the Pirates with a strong defensive effort, as they held Seton Hall to just 35 percent shooting from the field and 5-of-27 shooting from beyond the arc. Coach Derek Kellogg employs an up-tempo offense and full-court trapping defense, which has led to varied results. UMass has scored 86.3 ppg on 44.4 percent shooting from the floor over its last seven contests. The Minutemen finished tied for fifth in the Atlantic 10 Conference standings and come in with a 24-11 overall record.
Coach Bruiser Flint has guided Drexel to a 29-6 overall record, which set a new program record for Drexel. The Dragons have won 21 of their last 22 games, with the only loss being a hard-fought 59-56 setback to Virginia Commonwealth in the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament Championship game. Drexel had a close call its last time out, as it allowed Northern Iowa to chip away at its 18-point lead before it hung on for a 65-63 victory. The Dragons are one of the top defensive teams in the NCAA, as they rank fifth in scoring defense with an allowed average of only 55.7 ppg.
Sophomore point guard Chaz Williams is the motor for the Minutemen. Williams scored 20 points and handed out six assists to lead UMass past Seton Hall on Saturday. The sophomore was even better in the first round matchup with Mississippi State, as he scored 28 points, grabbed eight rebounds, and dealt out six assists in that tilt. Forward Sean Carter has been excellent inside in the NIT, as he has recorded double-doubles in both games. Forwards Raphiael Putney and Terrell Vinson are both important contributors for UMass as well.
The Dragons have a very balanced attack which is led by Samme Givens. The senior forward is only 6-foot-5-inches tall, but he still managed to bully his way to 28 points on Sunday versus Northern Iowa. The guard trio of Frantz Massenat, Damion Lee, and Chris Fouch is going to cause problems for the Minutemen. Massenat is a very strong defender and leads Drexel in scoring with 13.7 ppg. Fouch has the ability to get hot with his deadly shooting ability. Lee, the CAA's Rookie of the Year, averages 12.2 points per outing and is shooting 38 percent from beyond the arc.
The clash of UMass's strong up-tempo offense with Drexel's stifling defense should be interesting. The battle inside will be key. Givens will need to outplay Carter to give the Dragons a chance, as DU's guards will have their hands full trying to slow down Williams. The Dragons should hold an edge playing in front of their home crowd, which is one of the most rowdy in the country.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Drexel 68, Massachusetts 64
03/20 10:35:23 ET
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