The Rhode Island Rams will play their fourth and final game as part of the NIT Season Tip-Off tonight as they welcome the McNeese State Cowboys to the Ryan Center. And without jumping the gun too much, it could be the worst of all four of the teams they’ve faced as part of the tourney.
Wait, didn’t they play a Division II team last week? Yes, they did. And Metro State has gone on to beat both Fairleigh Dickinson and Elon as part of the Tip-Off. Suddenly that nail-biting win isn’t looking so bad.
Back to the task at hand – it’s on to the Cowboys as Rhody tries to move to 6-2 on the season.
2012-13 Record: 14-17 (7-11 in the Southland Conference)
Key Losses: G Dontae Cannon, G Jeremie Mitchell
Key Returners: G Kevin Hardy, G Ledrick Eackles, F Craig McFerrin
Player to Watch: G Ledrick Eackles
McNeese State is led by the play of their guards, Kevin Hardy and Ledrick Eackles. And while Hardy has the most balanced numbers of the two, Eackles is the scorer that the Rams need to keep an eye on. The senior guard has posted double-digit points in all six of his games this season en route to a 16.5 per-game average. He racked up 19 in a loss to East Carolina last night at the Ryan Center, including a pair of made three-pointers. Eackles’ defense can also be problematic for opponents; he’s averaging 2.7 steals per game this season.
Prediction: Rhode Island 88 – McNeese State 71
The Cowboys are 2-4 on the young season, but those two wins have come against Division II opponents. Their defense is… “weak”, to put nicely, and the Rams should have no problem putting up points early and often. If URI can turn in a defensive effort similar to last night, there could be another blowout in the works.