In case you missed it, the Duquesne Dukes stunned Saint Louis Thursday night with a big 71-64 road win over the Billikens. Good for them. But not so good for the Rhode Island Rams. It now leaves Rhody battling to avoid the A-10 Tournament play-in game between the 12th and 13th seeds in the conference. So they’re going to need some wins in their final two games of the season; luckily, they’re both at home. First up: the 18-10 (8-5) Richmond Spiders.
1. Shut Down Anthony
The Atlantic 10 isn’t an easy conference to predict, especially this season. And certainly we’ve thrown around a lot of “limit this player” or “control that player” in our keys to the game posts. Holding one player below his season average isn’t already a guarantee. But this one is: if URI limits Kendall Anthony, they will win this game. The junior guard has become Richmond’s only scoring option since they lost their other scorer Cedrick Lindsay for the season. If you need any more evidence, check this out: Anthony leads the A-10 in scoring in conference play, and the Spiders have no other players in the top 45. He is the guy, and the Rams will have to clamp down to get the victory.
2. Dominate the Boards
Richmond is… not a good rebounding team. And that’s an understatement. Their 32.4 rebounds per game ranks dead last in the conference, and it’s not close. Rhody needs to make their presence felt on the glass for 40 minutes in this one. Rebounds will be key on both ends of the floor. It’s a gut feeling, but look for Ifeanyi Onyekaba to have a nice game off the bench. If we’re right about that, expect a URI win.
3. Battle of the Blocks
Both Richmond and Rhode Island are two of the better shot-blocking teams in the conference. The Spiders are led in blocks by 6’9″ Alonzo Nelson-Ododa, who is averaging 2.4 per game. Hassan Martin obviously leads the way for the Rams, although he’s struggled with foul trouble recently. Can he stay on the floor for this one? If so, expect him to post some solid numbers once again.
4. Home Court Advantage
Rhode Island’s success at home has been well chronicled here, and it’s an added bonus that the Spiders have struggled away from home. Richmond is 2-4 in the conference on the road, so the Rams have a clear advantage here. Yeah, there’s no postseason on the horizon for Rhody, but let’s hope the Ryan Center is still rocking.
5. X and 1,000 Points
This isn’t really a key, but it needs to be mentioned. Xavier Munford is just 15 points away from 1,000 in his URI career, which is pretty special considering this is his second (and final) season playing Division I hoops. He’ll have the home crowd behind him as he tries to hit that mark. Win or lose, there’s no doubt he’ll get a very deserved standing O.
This looks to be a winnable game for the Rams, all things considered. It’s now March, which means it’s officially crunch time with the A-10 Tourney on the horizon. Can Rhody pick up the W? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!