The door is open for UMass, but only ever-so-slightly.
The Minutemen cannot afford another loss, at least not prior to this weekend. Even then, UMass still wouldn’t be guaranteed a spot within the NCAA Tournament. Led by star point guard Chaz Williams, the Minutemen feature one of the nation’s top offensive threats. In fact, UMass currently ranks 48th in the nation in points per game.
That high-powered attack can make UMass dangerous at times, but sometimes they can be too quick for their own good. The Minutemen will need to attack their opponents in Brooklyn this week, but they must be cautious in terms of their legs and conditioning, although it’s a do or die stretch either way.
On Thursday night, as part of the Atlantic 10 Tournament‘s opening round, the sixth-seeded Minutemen will take on No. 11 George Washington. Back on Jan. 19, the Colonials went on the road to Amherst and pulled out a gritty, 79-76 victory. That loss, along with a late February loss to St. Bonaventure, are the only two questionable losses that UMass has suffered this season. Other than that, the Minutemen don’t have much to hide from.
So while, George Washington may have some confidence matching up with UMass in the opening round, it really doesn’t matter for the Minutemen’s perspective. UMass needs wins and it must start with the Colonials on Thursday night.
In the first meeting between these two, Joe McDonald picked apart the UMass defense, scoring 16 points and tallying ten assists. Williams had 18 points for the Minutemen, but needed 17 shot attempts to get their.
On Thursday, Williams needs to be more efficient this time around, but the key match-up could come in the paint. Former Villanova transfer Isaiah Armwood averages just under a double-double for the Colonials and UMass needs to make sure they can limit his production in the opening round. Whether they use Terrell Vinson on him to spread the floor offensively or body him up with Cady Lalanne for example, the Minutemen must limit his productivity.
Tip-off between UMass and George Washington is scheduled for 9:00pm (EST).
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