UNC-Wilmington (6-10) at Northeastern (3-11)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, January 8, 7 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Matthews Arena (6,000) -- Boston, Massachusetts. Television: None. Home Record: UNCW 3-6, NU 1-3. Away Record: UNCW 3-4, NU 0-5. Neutral Record: UNCW 0-0, NU 2-3. Conference Record: UNCW 0-1, NU 0-0. Series Record: Northeastern leads, 7-5.
GAME NOTES: The defending Colonial Athletic Association regular season champions will get back to work in league action, as the Northeastern Huskies play host to the UNC-Wilmington Seahawks at Matthews Arena on Wednesday night.
UNC-Wilmington already has a league clash under its belt, although its run-in with James Madison last Saturday resulted in a 60-55 loss. The Seahawks have lost five straight games, plummeting to 6-10 overall. They will again be on the road this Saturday at Towson.
If non-conference play is any indication, Northeastern is set up for a steep drop-off this season. The Huskies, who were a conference best 14-4 at the end of the regular season last year, are just 3-11 on the campaign, with losses in their last three outings. A trip to Drexel is next on the ledger.
One of the few losses the Huskies suffered in league play last season came against UNC-Wilmington. However, the Seahawks were just returning the favor after the Huskies earned a victory in the first meeting. Northeastern leads the all-time series, 7-5.
There was not a single player on the roster who scored in double figures for UNCW against James Madison. Cedrick Williams had nine points, 11 rebounds and four blocks, but it was not enough for the Seahawks, who suffered deficits in points off turnovers (14-6) and in second-chance points (18-4).
Giving opponents extra chances to score is always a recipe for disaster, but it is especially true for UNC-Wilmington, which has been one of the worst offensive teams in the CAA this season. In fact, the Seahawks rank last in the league in field goal percentage (.404), while netting just 65.5 ppg. Williams (14.1 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 2 bpg) is clearly the most productive player on the roster, as he lead in scoring, rebounding and in blocked shots. He is also the only player on the team getting more than 25 minutes per game. Addison Spruill (11.1 ppg) is the second-best scoring threat, although he shoots just 35.3 percent from the field.
When it last hit the floor, Northeastern was paired up with Vanderbilt on the road. The result was not pretty, as the Huskies were routed, 79-49, in a game where they hit just 31.5 percent of their shots from the floor, while connecting on just 10-of-21 tries at the free-throw line.
Just like the Seahawks, Northeastern isn't much of a powerhouse when it comes to offensive production. The Huskies are scoring just 65.4 ppg and shooting at a 43.6 percent clip, although that second mark is good enough to rank in the top half of the CAA. Scott Eatherton (16.6 ppg, 10 rpg) is as consistent as they come on the interior, but his efforts have often been in vain. The junior forward is tied with UNLV's Roscoe Smith for the most double-doubles in the country this season with 10. David Walker (11.3 ppg) and Reggie Spencer (10.1 ppg) represent the only active members of the roster averaging more than 7.5 ppg.
The battle in the paint between Eatherton and Williams should go a long way in deciding this contest. Thus far, Eatherton has proven to be the more productive of the two, and playing on his home floor should help in that effort.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Northeastern 67, UNC-Wilmington 60
01/08 10:36:44 ET