Rhode Island (7-23) at Massachusetts (19-10)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 3, 4:00 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Mullins Center (9,493) -- Amherst, Massachusetts. Television: CBSSN. Home Record: URI 4-11, UMass 13-1. Away Record: URI 2-12, UMass 4-7. Neutral Record: URI 1-0, UMass 2-2. Conference Record: URI 4-11, UMass 8-7. Series Record: UMass leads, 79-58.
GAMES NOTES: The Massachusetts Minutemen will be playing for position in next week's Atlantic 10 Tournament while the Rhode Island Rams will just be trying to get a win to close out the regular season when the squads meet at the Mullins Center on Saturday.
Even after a resounding 78-58 win over Fordham on Wednesday, Rhode Island cannot qualify for next week's A-10 Tournament with a record of just 4-11 in league play, a game back from George Washington with just a game left in the regular season. Unfortunately the Rams lost to the Colonials earlier this season meaning a tie would go in favor of George Washington.
Rhode Island already has a win against Massachusetts this season when the Rams clawed their way to an 81-78 victory in overtime in early February. The Minutemen still lead the all-time series by a 79-58 margin and have not lost to Rhode Island at the Mullins Center since 2009.
Massachusetts still has an outside shot at an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament but with losses in four of its last five games the window is closing quickly. The Minutemen almost pulled off a resume-building win on Wednesday but fell to No. 23 Temple by a 90-88 decision in overtime. They are now just 8-7 in conference play, tied with La Salle and Dayton for sixth in the A-10.
Rhode Island shot at just a 41.6 percent clip on Wednesday but shored up on defense and held Fordham to 31.6 percent, while outscoring Fordham 19-4 from the free-throw line and outrebounding Fordham by a hefty 58-40 margin.
Strong rebounding has been one of the few things the Rams can be proud of this season as they are third in the conference in the category (38.1 rpg). Unfortunately the offense has not been as potent (68.1 ppg, 10th) while the scoring defense has also been disappointing at 75.0 points per game. Sophomore guard Billy Baron has paced the Rams after the team lost senior guard Jamal Wilson (16.4 ppg). Baron is averaging 13.1 points per game this season but had only eight points on Wednesday as he took a backseat to the team's seniors playing in their final home game. Senior guard Anthony Malhoit took full advantage and scored a career-high 21 points, which far exceeded his season average (2.5 ppg). Senior forward Orion Outerbridge (12.2 ppg, 6.9 rpg) has been a much more important part of the team's efforts this season and put together a 15-point, 13-rebound double-double on Wednesday.
Massachusetts had two attempts to tie the game and send it into double overtime on Wednesday but couldn't get either shot to go down as the Minutemen allowed Temple to escape with the 90-88 overtime victory. The Minutemen did themselves proud in the game though and erased a 10-point deficit with two minutes remaining to force the extra frame.
With a much better record it is no surprise that Massachusetts is in much better standing statistically in the conference. In fact, the Minutemen are leading in assists (15.8 apg) and rebounds (39.6 rpg) this season while turning in the conf2erences second highest offensive output this year (75.7 ppg). Sophomore guard Chaz Williams has been filling up the stat sheet all season for UMass and currently has team lead in points (16.1 ppg), assists (6.3 apg) and steals (2.2 spg), while bringing down a healthy 4.1 rebounds per contest. Williams was sensational against Temple scoring 26 points, dishing out 11 assists, bringing down eight rebounds and collecting four steals. There is a major drop off in offensive production after Williams with Raphiael Putney (10.3 ppg 5.7 rpg) the next leading scorer on the team. Putney also had a strong effort against the Owls, scoring 16 points and collecting eight rebounds. Sean Carter (7.4 ppg, 6.2 rpg) is the leading rebounder for the Minutemen.
Massachusetts has only one loss at the Mullins Center this season (13-1) with the lone defeat coming against No. 22 Florida State. Rhode Island is not nearly in that caliber and will struggle to hold down the Minutemen potent offense.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Massachusetts 81 Rhode Island 61
03/03 10:41:51 ET