Massachusetts (18-10) at Rhode Island (8-20)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday. March 9, 2 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Thomas M. Ryan Center (7,657) -- Kingston, Rhode Island. Television: Ocean State Networks. Home Record: UMass 9-4, URI 5-9. Away Record: UMass 7-4, URI 3-9. Neutral Record: UMass 1-1, URI 0-2. Conference Record: UMass 8-7, URI 3-12. Series Record: Massachusetts leads, 81-58.
GAME NOTES: With their seeding in the upcoming conference tournament on the line, the Massachusetts Minutemen take on the Rhode Island Rams in an Atlantic 10 matchup on Saturday afternoon at the Ryan Center.
After falling to Butler on Thursday, the Minutemen can finish no higher than sixth in the league standings. UMass can earn the No. 6 seed in the postseason tournament with a win Saturday and a Xavier loss. If UMass and Xavier both win, UMass will be the No. 7 seed and Xavier the No. 6 seed. If the Minutemen fail to defeat Rhode Island, they would fall into a myriad of scenarios with as many as five other teams (Charlotte, Dayton, Richmond, St. Bonaventure and Saint Joseph's) at 8-8 in the league.
The Rams were blown out by Saint Joe's on Wednesday night, 81-44. They are 14th in the conference and did not qualify for the A-10 Tourney.
UMass holds an 81-58 advantage in the all-time series with URI, which dates back to the 1907-08 season. The Minutemen whipped the Rams in their other meeting this season, an 81-53 pounding that was the second-largest margin of defeat for the Rams this season.
The Butler Bulldogs took down the Massachusetts Minutemen, 73-62, on Thursday night. Terrell Vinson finished with 17 points to pace the Minutemen, while Sampson Carter chipped in with 12 points. Butler dominated the boards, 37-20, and the Bulldogs outscored the Minutemen on second-chance points, 17-5.
Chaz Williams has been impressive for UMass this season, scoring 16.1 ppg to go along with 7.3 apg. Vinson adds 12.0 ppg, while Cady Lalanne is the squad's top rebounder, pulling down 7.0 rpg. UMass owns a high-powered offense, averaging 73.0 ppg, third-best in the conference.
Saint Joseph's dominated visiting Rhode Island earlier in the week. Nikola Malesevic and Andre Malone scored 10 points apiece for the Rams, who were limited to just 26.7 percent shooting from the field and missed all seven of their attempts from 3-point range before the break. For the game, the Hawks went 10-of-28 from beyond the arc and limited the Rams to just one make on 20 tries from 3-point range.
Leading the Rams this season is Xavier Munford, the conference's third-leading scorer (17.2 ppg). Malone is third on the team in scoring (10.0 ppg) behind Munford and forward Malesevic (10.3 ppg), who grabs a club-best 5.3 rpg. As a unit, URI is allowing 66.9 ppg while scoring just 61.4 ppg, worst in the conference.
The Minutemen are clearly the better team and they have something to play for, other than pride. Expect them to exploit the offensive weaknesses of the Rams and come home with a solid road victory.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Massachusetts 74, Rhode Island 62
03/09 10:49:52 ET