Tonight’s game is one that Rhode Island fans have been looking forward to since the summer, but didn’t become official until around 1:30 this morning. The Rams will face the Arizona Wildcats in Tucson tonight as part of the NIT Season Tip-Off. ‘Zona checks in at #5 in the latest Associated Press poll and #4 in the USA Today Coaches poll, which means Rhody will have a shot at defeating a ranked team for the first time since 1998. Let’s have a look at what they’ll be up against.
2012-13 Record: 27-8 (12-6 in the Pac-12)
Key Losses: G Mark Lyons, F Solomon Hill, G Kevin Parrom
Key Returners: G Nick Johnson, F Brandon Ashley, C Kaleb Tarczewski
Player to Watch: F Aaron Gordon
Everyone knows Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker are two of the most prolific freshman in college hoops, and Aaron Gordon may very well be included with them sooner rather than later. The 6’9″ forward is currently second on the Wildcats in scoring (13.3 points per game) and first in rebounds (9.5). To look at it another way, Gordon has played four collegiate games in his life and has three double-doubles. Onyekaba, Biruta, Aaman, and Martin are going to have their hands full trying to contain this future lottery pick.
Prediction: Arizona 79 – Rhode Island 61
So yeah, this one is not going to be easy. ‘Zona has been rolling through teams early on this season, but the Rams may provide their biggest challenge to date. Still, it’s going to be awfully tough for Rhody to come away with a win tonight. It’ll certainly send shock waves through the college basketball ranks if URI can pick up a huge upset, but we’ll be satisfied with keeping it close.