Game 21 Preview: Massachusetts Minutemen vs Rhode Island Rams

The Rhode Island Rams head on the road once again to take on the only team they’ll play twice this season… that we know of. A trip to the Atlantic 10 Tournament in Brooklyn would also see Rhody in a rematch regardless of who they draw. But the Rams would have to get there first. A win tomorrow night would help Rhody position themselves a bit better, so let’s take a look at what they’ll need to do to grab their second road win in the conference:

University of Massachusetts Amherst
Mascot: Minutemen
Location: Amherst, Massachusetts
Conference: Atlantic 10
2012-13 Record: 14-6 (4-3)

Ahh, our old friends the Minutemen. Despite the record, their season hasn’t been much different than URI’s. For example, six of UMass’ seven conference games have been decided by eight points or less. The one exception is Duquesne, who the Minutemen beat 79-66. Duquesne is not that good. As for their non-conference schedule, UMass holds a win over Providence, something that Rhody cannot claim. The Minutemen have also recorded narrow victories over Fordham, Richmond, and La Salle – the latter of which is likely their best win of the season. UMass’ three conference losses have come at the hands of St. Louis, George Washington, and Charlotte – all of which were close battles.

Projected Starting Lineups

Massachusetts Minutemen logo

Rhode Island
G: Mike Powell, So, #1, 5’11″, 175
G: Xavier Munford, Jr, #5, 6’2″, 180
G: Andre Malone, Sr, #12, 6’6″, 210
F: Nikola Malesevic, Sr, #23, 6’7″, 200
C: Jordan Hare, Fr, #4, 6’10″, 205

G: Chaz Williams, Jr, #3, 5’9″, 175
G: Freddie Riley, Sr, #23, 6’5″, 190
F: Terrell Vinson, Sr, #33, 6’7″, 220
F: Sampson Carter, Jr, #22, 6’8″, 220
F: Raphiael Putney, Jr, #34, 6’9″, 185

The Minutemen are led by all-conference stud Chaz Williams, who has essentially carried his squad in a majority of their victories this year. The 5’9″ point guard leads UMass in both scoring (15.9 points per game) and assists (7.0 per game). Williams is a double-figure scorer game in and game out, and has even racked up three double-doubles this season. His most notable performance game against East Carolina in late December when he posted 26 points and 11 dimes in an 88-81 UMass win. Despite his height, Williams can get off the three ball, shooting 37 percent from outside on the season.

But don’t let the diminutive point guard fool you – this UMass team has some height. Three Minutemen starters – Sampson Carter, Terrell Vison, and Raphiael Putney – can all get on the glass. Each of them is 6’7″ or taller, so Rhody is likely to struggle on the boards once again. Vinson is the most notable of the bunch, averaging 11 points and four rebounds per game. The Minutemen are led in rebounding by Cady “Do You Know Who I Am?” Lalanne, who pulls down 6.5 boards per game off the bench.

One more important thing to note: Jesse Morgan, the second leading scorer for Massachusetts, is lost for the season after tearing his ACL against St. Louis. UMass is still scoring in the 70s and high 60s, however, so other guys are stepping up in his absence. It figures to be another tough road game for the Rams. Can they bring the same energy to the Minutemen that they brought to VCU and Butler? If they can, the path to Brooklyn will become a lot clearer.