Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Mid-Major Team of the Week

The college basketball season officially kicked off last night, and for most of you I am sure that the Final Four is the furthest thing from your mind. However, I could not be more excited. Sure I am still neck-deep in football, but it’s never too early to start taking a look at the teams that will make up the new 68-team bracket come March. Each week (or so) I will highlight one team that might not be on your radar now, but should be when you start to fill out your brackets. So start spending the money that you are going to win in the office pool this year, because by the time that bracket comes out, you will be a regular Joe Lunardi, only not so creepy looking and not a complete tool.

This week’s team is the Rhode Island Rams. For those of you that saw their game against Pitt last night, you can see why this team should be a force to be reckoned with come tournament time. Over the past three seasons the Rams have won 26, 23, and 21 games respectively, but have not made the NCAA Tournament field, mostly because that have had very few ‘signature wins’ over that stretch. They have also had trouble taking down the top teams in the Atlantic 10, namely Temple and Xavier, who accounted for 4 of URI’s 10 losses last season.

On the floor, they are a fun team to watch. They like to press, push the tempo, and shoot the 3. Last night, they showed that they can play with anyone in the country as they pushed Pittsburgh to the limit at The Zoo. But if they want to make a run this year, they will need to be more physical in the paint, take better care of the basketball, and make better decisions late in the game. You could see last night that their lack of discipline with the ball and shot selection in the second half is something that needs to be addressed immediately. They do have two 7-footers on the roster in Senior Will Martell (#32) and Freshman Blake Vedder (#15) who reminded me a lot of Ervin Johnson, and not in a good way. Even so, they were not effective scoring in the paint, and were pushed around by Pitt’s frontcourt all night long.

Senior forward Delroy James (#21) is a name to remember. He’s got a solid overall game and can play decent defense. If the Rams can keep him in the flow of the offense, he is able to penetrate and create open three-point opportunities for the guys around him. Last night they shot 14-for-32 (43.8%) from three-point range, and it became clear early, that they will live and die by the 3 this season.

How does this affect your bracket?
The dream match-up for Rhode Island is a team that has a shaky point guard. Their full court pressure and high tempo attack will wreak havoc on any team that does not have a solid point guard to break the press. A tough match-up for the Rams are ball control teams that protect the basketball. Think Wisconsin or Georgetown. Even a team like Pitt was forced to run a bit with the Rams last night, so it has to be a team that can truly slow the game down. If they can get past Temple, Dayton, and Xavier in the A-10 and qualify for the tournament this year, they could get out of the first round with the right opponent, but do not look for them to reach the Sweet 16.

1 comments:

KL Snow said...

I like this feature. Keep it up.

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