Friday’s are typically slow days in college hoops, but things have gotten better for the hoops-starved junkie in 2016. No longer will we have to tune in to a Horizon League battle to sate our hoops addiction, instead several leagues have danced in and out of the foray, namely the Pac 12 and Atlantic 10, to offer up some really good Friday evening matchups for our viewing pleasure (or for the ESPN dollars, if one is more cynical).
Tonight is no exception. Yes, it’s a light overall schedule. But if were not for the A-10, we’d be left with Valpo at Wright State and our normal Horizon League fare. And that is no knock on Valpo. I think they have a better chance to win a Tourney game than any other true mid-major (that means WCC Gonzaga doesn’t count). But Rhode Island at George Washington is a battle of two teams still harboring Tourney dreams (GW in great shape, URI NEEDS a win). It’s a good chance to catch a few teams that get lost in the shuffle once the Power 5 football conferences take center stage.
And speaking of Gonzaga, perhaps it should have been “St. Mary’s” inside the above parenthetical. The Gaels beat their arch rival last night to move to 16-2 and remain unbeaten in the WCC. Is this the year they finally unseat the Bulldogs? They still have the return trip to Spokane, but with the Zags already dropping a game to BYU, the ball is on their racquet.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Rhode Island Rams at George Washington Colonials -5
NOTE – GAME HAS BEEN MOVED UP TO 3PM EST
The violent winter storm that is threatening the Northeast has created a bizarre circumstance for today’s game. The tip has been moved all the way up to 3pm and ESPN ain’t making the early trip. Even the tickets have been abandoned – come one, come all, today’s hoops will be free.
Now, how many brave should take them up on the offer remains to be seen. I am anticipating a bizarre, noon-tip in a small conference tourney game type atmosphere; quiet and antiseptic and tough on the players body clock. It won’t be easy for either team, but it feels like a downright mess for the visitors who have to be thinking about getting the heck out of that gym and back home.
Rhode Island is just 1-5 straight up on the road. GW is 11-1 at home, including a nice win over Virginia to start the season. Even worse, URI is just 5-11 ATS on the season and a perfect 0-6 ATS on the road. Asking them to break that streak against a slightly better team on the road in a blizzard feels like a really big ask. They have been bad on the road, bad against the spread, and have failed to cover in seven of their last nine games.
Look for GW to control the game in an AAU-like atmosphere. I wish it were on television, because I am curious to see what it looks and feels like. But I am confident that GW gets the win at home.