When the word first leaked that the Rhode Island Rams would be playing in the NIT Season Tip-Off, rumors flew regarding who the Rams would face. Well now that the official announcement has come down, we know for sure. Get excited, Rhody fans. The Rams will indeed get a crack at the Metro State Roadrunners this season.
Yes, there’s a bit of a roadblock in between URI and the Arizona Wildcats. Rhody will have to defeat the Roadrunners in their first game of the Tip-Off, and they’ll have to hope the ‘Cats take care of business against Fairleigh Dickinson in order to set up the highly anticipated showdown. And despite the fact that Metro State is Division II, they’re no pushover. In fact, the Roadrunners rank as the #1 team in the country according to the D-II preseason poll.
2012-13 Record: 32-3 (20-2 in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference)
Key Losses: C Jonathan Morse, G Demetrius Miller, G Tyler Cooper
Key Returners: G Brandon Jefferson, G Mitch McCarron, C Nicholas Kay
Player to Watch: G Mitch McCarron
Metro State is returning three of five starters this season, including their leading scorer in Brandon Jefferson. But McCarron arguably poses a bigger threat to the Rams, given his versatility. He was fourth on the team in scoring last season at 13.2 points per game, but the dude can shoot the ball. McCarron hit on 50.9% of his field goals, and an insane 50.8% from three-point range. He also ranked second on the team in rebounds (6.6 per game) and first in assists (2.9). He can burn a team in a lot of ways; the URI coaching staff will need to play for him in a big way.
Prediction: Rhode Island 81 – Metro State 65
Division II or not, Dan Hurley will have his team ready to ensure that they don’t just view this as a bye game en route to the Wildcats. In the end, we think Rhody’s D-I talent will be too much for Metro State, although they may keep it close early on. Bring on Zona!