It’s hard to classify any game this season as one the Rhode Island Rams should win… but tomorrow’s match-up against Duquesne is pretty close. Rhody has a lot of things going for them in this one. The game is at home. URI topped the Dukes last season (on the road, no less). And Duquesne currently sit at 10-13 (2-8) on the season. …OK, so Rhode Island’s record isn’t much better. That said, they’re favored by six points right now, and this might be the final time the Rams will be favored in a game this season. Here’s how they can pick up win number 12:
1. Put Up Some Points
So that’s always a good idea, right? We haven’t mentioned this before, but 70 seems to be the magic number for Rhody. URI is 9-1 when they score 70+ points, and just 2-13 when they fail to reach the 70-point plateau. Similarly, the Dukes have lost their last four A-10 games when they have given up 70+. If the Rams can hit that mark, you have to like their chances.
2. Biruta vs Soko
This could be the make-or-break match-up for the Rams: 6’8″, 245-pound power forward Gilvydas Biruta versus 6’8″, 225-pound power forward Ovie Soko. The Dukes’ senior has been a force down low this season, averaging 18.4 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. Soko transferred to Duquesne last year from UAB, and he’s certainly hitting his stride in the A-10. He’s reached double-figures in all but two DU games this season, and it’ll be on Biruta to try and contain him.
3. Home is Where the Wins Are
URI’s troubles on the road this season have been well chronicled, especially in conference play. But they’re back at the Ryan Center tomorrow afternoon, and should have a solid crowd behind them. The difficulties away from home is a topic for a later discussion. For now, can Rhody stay tough in Kingston?
4. The Colter Factor
In addition to Soko, the Dukes have another big threat in point guard Derrick Colter. The sophomore is only averaging 9.3 points per game, but don’t let that fool you. Colter poured in 20 to go along with seven assists in 32 minutes a year ago against the Rams. Distributing the ball is certainly Colter’s strength: his 3.4 assists per game rank first on the team and 10th overall in the conference. He can beat you in a lot of ways – the Rams will need to be sure they limit him in all facets of the game.
5. Dealing With Old Friends
Soko and Colter are tough, but this one’s personal. Former URI Ram Dominique McCoy is another key piece to the Duquesne lineup, and he can certainly get things done inside. His 9.8 points and 7.1 rebounds per game are clear improvements over what he was able to give Rhody in his one season in Kingston. Of the current roster, only T.J. Buchanan shared the floor with McCoy, but the team should still be geared up to demonstrate that he wasn’t a huge loss. A nice shut-down D should do just that.
Can the Rams end their four game losing streak tomorrow? Conventional wisdom says yes, but let us know your thoughts in the comments!