The LaSalle Explorers have a great opportunity to go to Kingston, Ri. and come out in sole possession of 3rd place in the Atlantic 10.
Today the Explorers (18-7) face the Rhode Island Rams, who are near the bottom of the conference standings and are 8-17 overall on the season.
However, in LaSalle’s last game against the Temple Owls, the Explorers only managed 29.4 percent from three-point range and were out rebounded by 17.
So can the Rams pull the upset?
With junior Xavier Munford, the A-10’s third leading scorer, and sophomore point guard Mike Powell, who is 10th in the league in assists per game, the scrappy Rams have started to create an identity under first year head coach, Dan Hurley.
What will determine the outcome of the game is can LaSalle, who leads the A-10 in three-point field goal percentage defense (30.4 percent) keep the Rams under that mark, and who will win the battle of the boards.
Both teams are near the bottom of the league in rebounding margin with LaSalle (-2.3) holding a slim advantage over Rhode Island (-5.1).
LaSalle can lose the rebounding margin if they shoot better than the 45 percent from the field than they mustered against Temple. If they lose the rebounding battle and do not shoot well, look for Rhode Island to get the upset win.
If LaSalle wants to cement itself as one of the top teams in the A-10 and keep an NCAA tournament bid in sight, they cannot lose to the Rams today. If they do let the Rams upset them, LaSalle can surely point to this loss as one of the reasons they will be disappointed when the NCAA tournament selection committee leaves them out.
Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo