March 23, 2013; San Jose, CA, USA; Saint Louis Billikens guard Kwamain Mitchell (3) dribbles past Oregon Ducks center Waverly Austin (20) during the first half of the third round of the NCAA basketball tournament at HP Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Rhode Island Basketball 2013-14 Schedule Preview: Saint Louis Billikens

After previewing the non-conference portion of Rhody’s basketball schedule, it’s now time to talk about Atlantic 10 play. And while there are certainly some winnable games on the A-10 slate, it figures to be a much larger challenge than the first half of URI’s season. Plus, it certainly doesn’t help that the Rams open up against the defending Atlantic 10 Tournament champions. Let’s take a deeper dive into the Saint Louis Billikens.

The Skinny:

2012-13 Record: 28-7 (13-3 in the Atlantic 10)
Key Losses: F Cody Ellis, G Kwamain Mitchell, F Cory Remekun
Key Returners: F Dwayne Evans, G Jordair Jett, G Mike McCall, Jr.

Player to Watch: F Dwayne Evans

The Rams are no doubt thankful that both Cody Ellis and Kwamain Mitchell have graduated. The duo combined for 50 of the Billikens’ 80 points when the two teams faced off in January. But even without them, Saint Louis still has one of the best players in the A-10 in Dwayne Evans. The 6’6″ forward led SLU in points (13.7 per game) and rebounds (7.7) last season, racking up six double-doubles along the way. Thanks to some foul troubles, Rhody was able to hold Evans to just four points and three boards when they last met the Billikens. URI will need to do more of the same if they want to extend their winning streak over SLU to five games.

Prediction: Saint Louis 69 – Rhode Island 55

Going on the road and defeating Saint Louis last season was no small task for Rhody, and this year’s contest will be taking place in Kingston. But the Billikens are returning much of their talent from an NCAA Tournament team, and they figure to be another force in the Atlantic 10 again this season. Rhody will need to turn in a near perfect effort to come away with a W.

Tags: Basketball Rhode Island Rams St Louis Billikens

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