On to the UMass Lowell River Hawks. But wait, doesn’t Rhody have a few games in between Metro State and the new members of the America East? Yes they do. The Rams will play an additional game in Arizona as part of the NIT Season Tip-Off, but their opponent is yet to be determined. If URI tops Metro State, they’ll face the winner of Arizona and Fairleigh Dickinson (and if they lose, they’ll face the loser). If Rhody defeats both Metro State and the ‘Zona / FDU winner, the Rams will represent the “Arizona Pod” at Madison Square Garden for the NIT championship. A loss in either game and Rhody will head to the Ryan Center to play in a pair of consolation games. Long story short, we don’t know any of their opponents after Metro State, so those previews head to the back burner for now. Instead, we take a look at UMass Lowell, who will be playing their first season as a D-I member. The River Hawks make the jump to the America East from the Northeast-10 Conference in Division II.
2012-13 Record: 15-13 (10-12 in the Northeast-10 Conference)
Key Losses: F Matt Welch, G Greg DeSantis, G Romeo Diaz
Key Returners: G Akeem Williams, G Antonio Bivins, G Chad Holley
Player to Watch: G Antonio Bivins
It’s not often that you see a shooting guard with numbers like a center. But in D-II, a 6’5″ player is often one of the tallest on the court. Bivins was second on UMass Lowell in scoring with 15.5 points per game, shooting it at an insane 54.8 percent. He also averaged 7.4 rebounds per game, with nearly half of them on the offensive glass. Not too shabby for a guard.
Prediction: Rhode Island 88 – UMass Lowell 59
The River Hawks were barely a .500 team (and tallied a losing record in the conference) last season, and that was against teams like Franklin Pierce and Assumption. In their only contest against a Division I opponent a year ago, UMass Lowell was smoked by the Connecticut Huskies 100-62. Now Rhody isn’t exactly on UConn’s level, but they should take care of the River Hawks, who will likely have a tough time in D-I this season.