Massachusetts (24-7) vs. George Washington (23-7)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, March 14, 9 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Barclays Center (17,732) -- Brooklyn, New York. Television: NBCSN. Home Record: UMass 11-2, GWU 14-1. Away Record: UMass 7-4, GWU 6-5. Neutral Record: UMass 6-1, GWU 3-1. Conference Record: UMass 10-6, GWU 11-5. Series Record: George Washington leads, 30-24.
GAME NOTES: The third-seeded George Washington Colonials will finally get to work in the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament, as they take on the sixth- seeded Massachusetts Minutemen in the quarterfinals at the Barclays Center on Friday night.
The Colonials won two conference titles in three seasons (2005 and 2007), but had been going downhill since. They had four losing campaigns in the six years following those championships, but turned the tables this year by rolling up a 23-7 overall record. They won three straight games to finish the regular season, and are likely a team that will be in the field of 68 for the NCAA Tournament regardless of how they do in this event.
UMass already got going in the tournament, having defeated Rhode Island, 65-61, in the second round on Thursday. The Minutemen are now 24-7 overall, but they have split their last four games dating back to the regular season. The close score of the matchup also kept with a recent trend for the Minutemen, whose last seven games have been decided by seven points or less.
In the only meeting between these two teams this season, UMass topped George Washington in a 67-61 final on the road. The Minutemen also knocked the Colonials out of the A-10 Tournament last year, but GW leads the all-time series, 30-24.
UMass trailed 51-42 halfway through the second half against Rhode Island, but the Minutemen ripped off a 19-1 run to claim a five point lead and pull out the victory. The Minutemen only connected on 31.5 percent from the field, but benefited from a 28-11 scoring difference at the free-throw line.
The Minutemen rarely struggle on offense, as they are netting 76.1 ppg and shooting a solid 46.1 percent from the floor on the season. Chaz Williams (15.6 ppg, 7 apg) is at the forefront of the attack. He was certainly affected by the team-wide struggle against Rhode Island, finishing with 11 points on just 3-of-12 from the field. Maxie Esho (8.3 ppg) actually led the way in the victory, with 15 points on 7-of-8 from the field. Cady Lalanne (11.7 ppg, 8 rpg, 2.3 bpg) and Sampson Carter (10.7 ppg) were each off their game against URI, finishing with a combined 15 points on 4-of-14 shooting.
Paced by 24 points from Maurice Creek, George Washington was able to pull out a 70-67 victory over Fordham in the regular-season finale. The Colonials connected on 53.8 percent from the floor in the second half and had a 10-0 scoring edge off turnovers.
George Washington finished fifth in the A-10 in scoring (73.6 ppg) and third in field goal percentage (.463) this season. The Colonials are also one of the top teams in the league on the boards, ranking second at 37.6 rpg. Isaiah Armwood (12.3 ppg, 8.7 rpg) and Kevin Larsen (11.3 ppg, 7.1 rpg) eat up space on the interior, with Armwood also responsible for 1.6 blocks per game. Creek (14.6 ppg) is the top scorer and the leader on the wings, while Patricio Garino (12.3 ppg) and Joe McDonald (8.4 ppg 4 apg) fill in the gaps in the backcourt.
If the Minutemen play like they did on Thursday again, they can't possibly hope to take down a solid George Washington squad. However, Williams rarely struggles for extended lengths of time. Expect him and the Minutemen to get back on track as they advance.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Massachusetts 75, George Washington 72
03/14 10:32:49 ET