Delaware (20-9) at UNC-Wilmington (9-21)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, February 26, 7 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Trask Coliseum (6,100) -- Wilmington, North Carolina. Television: None. Home Record: Delaware 10-2, UNCW 6-7. Away Record: Delaware 9-7, UNCW 3-14. Neutral Record: Delaware 1-0, UNCW 0-0. Conference Record: Delaware 12-2, UNCW 3-12. Series Record: UNC-Wilmington leads, 16-9.
GAME NOTES: The two teams at opposite ends of the Colonial Athletic Association standings get together at Trask Coliseum, as the UNC-Wilmington Seahawks entertain the Delaware Blue Hens.
The Blue Hens entered the week as the top team in the CAA with a record of 12-2, although the squad did bow for the second time in the last three outings on Sunday afternoon, coming up short against Drexel at home, 69-65. With a win tonight, Delaware can clinch at least a share of the regular-season title, something the team has not accomplished since the 1998-99 campaign when it took the America East crown.
While the outlook for the immediate future appears to be quite bright for the Blue Hens, the same cannot be said for UNC-Wilmington, which is all alone at the bottom of the CAA standings with just three wins in 15 attempts. However, with that being said, the Seahawks did show signs of life over the weekend with a 57-55 double-overtime victory against the College of Charleston at home. The win snapped a brief two-game slide by the program.
The Seahawks lead the all-time series by a 16-9 margin, although Delaware squeezed out a one-point win in the first meeting of the season, 66-65, at the Bob Carpenter Center earlier this month. The Hens have in fact won four straight in the series.
Before one of the largest crowds in the history of the Bob Carpenter Center, the Blue Hens saw their 10-game home win streak snapped by Drexel over the weekend. Delaware led by as many as 10 points early in the first half, but shot only 34.3 percent from the field and 2-of-13 behind the 3-point line in the second half. Devon Saddler tallied 20 points, Davon Usher 19 and Cazmon Hayes 10 points and five rebounds off the bench. Coming up a point shy of a double-double was Carl Baptiste with 11 rebounds.
In conference play this season, Usher and Saddler have combined to form one of the most potent scoring duos anywhere in the nation. Usher is responsible for 22.8 ppg and Saddler another 20.4 ppg as the pair combines to hit 155 of the team's 259 free throws over the course of 14 games. Unfortunately, the Blue Hens are no longer as powerful as they once were, having lost Jarvis Threatt (17.8 ppg, 5.8 rpg) to a suspension. Baptiste (10.8 ppg, 8.6 rpg) has tried to pick up some of the slack, but it has not been easy.
Not since November of 2012 had a pair of college basketball teams played overtime, only to be scoreless in one of those extra sessions, but the Seahawks made it happen over the weekend during their two-point victory versus Charleston. Getting UNCW over the hump for good was Ben Eblen who knocked down a 3-pointer with 40 seconds remaining in the second overtime. Eblen played 30 minutes and finished with just those three points, while Shane Reybold logged a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds, and Dylan Sherwood 11 points off the bench.
Scoring only 63.0 ppg this season, the Seahawks are one of the weakest offensive teams in the CAA, shooting 40.7 percent from the floor, just 27.1 percent behind the 3-point line and 65.1 percent at the charity stripe. Cedrick Williams, who for the most part has avoided being caught up in trying his hand at shooting beyond the arc, is the lone double-digit scorer for UNCW at the moment with only 12.1 ppg.
With so much on the line tonight, the Blue Hens have to be careful not to be too confident going up against an inferior team. Perhaps this would be a good opportunity for Delaware to also show that the close call in the last meeting was the exception and not the rule.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Delaware 74, UNC-Wilmington 61
02/26 10:38:15 ET