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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, March 14, 9 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Barclays Center (17,732) -- Brooklyn, New York. Television: NBCSN. Home Record: GW 7-7, UMass 9-4. Away Record: GW 5-9, UMass 8-4. Neutral Record: GW 1-0, UMass 2-2. Conference Record: GW 7-9, UMass 9-7. Series Record: GW leads, 36-27.
GAME NOTES: The final first-round game of the Atlantic 10 Tournament pits the sixth-seeded Massachusetts Minutemen versus the No. 11 seed George Washington Colonials at the Barclays Center.
The winner has a date with third-seeded Temple in the quarterfinal round on Friday night.
George Washington earned its way into the tournament field on Isaiah Armwood's game-winning dunk with 2.4 seconds left in overtime of Saturday's regular- season finale against Dayton, which capped off a 6-1 run over the final 40 seconds. The Colonials had lost six of their previous seven games entering that contest. They last won the A-10 Tournament in 2007.
Massachusetts finished up its schedule by winning three of its final four. The Minutemen posted quality wins over the likes of Providence, Elon, Ohio, La Salle and Xavier over the course of the season. They have won this tournament five times, but 1996 was the most recent.
GW leads the all-time series, 36-27, and that includes a 79-76 road win over UMass earlier this season.
Isaiah Armwood was not only the late hero of Saturday's come-from-behind win over Dayton, he has been the catalyst for GW all season long. He leads the team in point production (11.8 ppg) and is the second-best rebounder (8.6 rpg) in the A-10. Lasan Kromah is the only other player averaging double digits in scoring, with 10.0 ppg. The Colonials are averaging only 66.1 points, partly due to horrific 3-point shooting. Their .287 percentage from beyond the arc is second-worst in the conference. Still, they seem to match up well with UMass, as four players scored in double figures the first time these teams met this season. Joe McDonald led the way in that contest with 16 points and 10 assists.
Chaz Williams has been impressive for UMass this season, scoring 15.4 ppg to go along with 2.0 steals and a league-best 7.6 assists as he earned first-team All-Atlantic 10 honors. Terrell Vinson adds 12.6 ppg, while Cady Lalanne is the squad's top rebounder, pulling down 7.3 rpg. UMass owns a high-powered offense, averaging 73.5 ppg, third-best in the conference. Still, the Minutemen could certainly use guard Jesse Morgan, who was lost for the season with a torn right knee ligament suffered in the team's A-10 opener. Morgan was averaging 13.4 ppg through 14 contests before the injury. However, others have stepped up in his absence, such as Freddie Riley (8.8 ppg) and Cady Lalanne (8.5 ppg, 7.3 rpg), both of whom are averaging double figures in league play.
The Colonials had been veering in the wrong direction and were in danger of missing out on a tournament bid. But the late-game rally against Dayton is the type of momentum-boosting performance that could catapult the team into a postseason run. However, first thing's first, as they'll need to find a way to slow down the Minutemen and their high-octane offense.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Massachusetts 76, George Washington 72
03/14 10:34:25 ET
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