Coming off an 8-21 season, it’s safe to that every game for the Rhode Island Rams this year could be considered a “test”. But in their third game of the season, Rhody will face off against an NCAA Tournament team from a year ago. URI will welcome the defending MEAC Champion North Carolina A&T Aggies to the Ryan Center for what figures to be a pretty awesome game. While their conference championship from a year ago is a little misleading (A&T finished sixth in the conference in the regular season), the Aggies got hot at the right time, so who’s to say they can’t get hot against the Rams? Here’s what Rhody needs to do to cool them off.
2012-13 Record: 20-17 (8-8 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference)
Key Losses: F Adrian Powell, F Austin Witter, G Jean Louisme
Key Returners: G Lamont Middleton, F Bruce Beckford, G Jeremy Underwood
Player to Watch: G Lamont Middleton
A&T is going through a bit of a rebuild this season. Their roster contains eight freshman after losing several of their stars to graduation. But their leading scorer from a year ago is still there, and the Rams need to contain him. Lamont Middleton is a 6’3″ point guard who averaged 12.4 points and 2.2 assists in 2012-13, leading the Aggies in both categories. He struggled in his only NCAA Tournament game though, scoring just nine points on 3-12 shooting against the eventual National Champion Louisville Cardinals. Rhody will need to clamp down on him in similar fashion… and hopefully force him to commit a few turnovers. Middleton also led A&T in that category with 2.9 per game.
Prediction: Rhode Island 78 – North Carolina A&T 64
The Rams haven’t started the season 3-0 since the 2009-10 season. Then again, they’ve faced beasts like Pitt, Texas, and Ohio State in the early portions of their schedule in recent years. So a relatively soft start to this season will come as a welcome sight to Rhody. Trust us, it doesn’t last. But for now, wheeeeee! URI has a great shot to get off to a hot start this season.