The Rams are set to begin their postseason tournament campaign in Brooklyn, New York on Tuesday. PHOTO CREDIT: atlantic10.com
As the regular season is nearing an end, the University of Rhode Island men’s basketball is looking at their possible opponents in the Atlantic 10 tournament from March 7 to March 12 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
URI enters the week as the 14th seeded team out of 15 teams. The Rams have had their struggles this year, only winning four games in the conference this year which has them ranked near the bottom of the standings.
If the tournament started today, Rhody would be taking on the La Salle University Explorers on Tuesday in an #11 versus #14 matchup. The Rams and Explorers have faced off 44 times in their long history and twice already this year, on Jan. 7 and Jan. 28.
Both matchups ended with the home team only just escaping with a two point win. In the first matchup in Philadelphia, the Explorers won 77-75 in overtime. When the Rams had the chance to defend their home court in Kingston the second time these teams faced off, they did.
The Rams beat La Salle 72-70 in another thriller between these two programs. If the Rams want to make a run in this tournament, they must get momentum early against the Explorers and not allow La Salle to have long stretches of scoring while not being shut down on offense themselves.
The Rams went 1-2 at a neutral site during the Cayman Islands Classic, the last time they played at a neutral site before Tuesday. The Rams will have to try to get the crowd on their side early, as the neutral site may not have fans of either school.
If the Rams make it past the Explorers they would likely face the sixth seeded George Washington Colonials, but with the standings subject to change this is not a guarantee for Wednesday. The Colonials and Rams have faced off 66 times, with George Washington being the victor 35 times.
The Colonials have won four straight against the Rams, dating back to last season. Last time the two teams played, the Rams fell to the Colonials 89-80 in overtime on Feb. 22. The Rams dropped that matchup due to a poor performance on defense, as they allowed the Colonials to shoot over 52%. The Rams will be looking to play better defense against the Colonials this time around, looking to limit them to under 50% shooting.
The Rams could improve on their three point shooting as well, when the Colonials came to Kingston they shot 33% from three, with the Rams only shooting 30% from range. The Rams can take down George Washington with a better defensive performance, by forcing the Colonials to take uncomfortable shots.
If the Rams can come out on top of the Explorers and Colonials they will likely face a team native to New York, the Fordham Rams. This will be Fordham’s first game of the week as they are slated to be the third seed. The first four seeds earn a double-bye, meaning Fordham will not play in the first two rounds of the tournament.
If Rhody can use their momentum from the prior two games they will be able to come out as victors in the battle of the Rams. URI and Fordham have faced off 72 times in a long history, with Rhody having the edge, having won 40 games against their rival.
The last battle of the Rams was on Feb. 25 when Fordham just edged out Rhode Island for the 74-71 victory in New York. Prior to that these two programs faced off on Jan. 4 at The Ryan Center with Rhody taking home the win by a final score of 82-79.
Although Rhode Island fell short on Feb. 25th, they can come out on top if they can overpower the home crowd by starting the game hot. If URI can get a lead early on Fordham, they can put themselves in a position to move on.
After Fordham the opponents are unknown, as the tournament may have upsets or Cinderella runs to later rounds. Currently, the Rams are slated to face La Salle on March 7 at 4:30 in what could be the final game of the season, or just their start to the tournament.