UMass has found themselves on the back side of the bubble discussion as the Minutemen prepare for the start of the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament.
However, there is still a glimmer of hope for this UMass squad, but work needs to be done within the conference tournament. If not, the Minutemen will likely find themselves headed to theNIT once again.
On Thursday, Mar. 14, UMass will square off against its first round opponent within the A-10 bracket, drawing a George Washington squad that beat them in Amherst earlier in the season. This game should represent a revenge scenario for the Minutemen, especially considering their tournament chances are riding with each passing game.
UMass is the No. 6 seed within the bracket, while George Washington holds the No. 11 spot. Should the Minutemen be able to advance past the Colonials, Temple is the team that awaits the winner. That potential quarterfinal round match-up could loom large for both the Owls and UMass, should that be the case. However, after knocking off VCU on Sunday, Temple should find themselves within the tournament field, regardless.
In hindsight, the quest for a tournament bid remains up in the air for UMass. CBSSports is a lot higher on the Minutemen’s resume than that of ESPN, although both scenarios are only predictions. UMass likely needs to advance past Temple to have any chance at earning an at-large chance. Even so, that still would leave them on the bubble heading into Selection Sunday.
Here’s the thing though. UMass can score, ranking 48th in the nation in points per game, so the Minutemen have the talent and rotation to be a dangerous squad within this A-10 field. The catalyst at the tail end of this week however, must be junior guard Chaz Williams.
Williams, who leads the team in points per game at 15.4, needs to shine if UMass is going to make a run. Williams has always been consistent, but over the course of the past month or so, his numbers have been a little erratic. Williams needs to provide a consistent offensive flow this week if UMass hopes to advance and make some noise down the closing stretch.
Tip-off between No. 6 UMass and No. 11 George Washington is scheduled for 9:00pm (EST) on Thursday.
Follow Paul Seaver on Twitter: @PaulSeaverRS