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Four Mile Brewing Pre-Game: UNC-Wilmington (7-1)

pregame

By: Jonathan May, Contributor @jmay425

The Skinny on UNC-Wilmington: The Bonnies continue their two game trek through the Colonial Athletic Association by welcoming the Seahawks of UNC Wilmington to the Reilly Center on Saturday at 6 p.m. The Seahawks arrive in Olean sporting a 7-1 record and received a vote in the AP Top 25 Poll this week and are currently the reigning CAA Champs who earned their first NCAA berth since 2006.uncw-logo

UNCW is led by former Louisville assistant Kevin Keats. Keats in three short years, has led the Seahawks to two consecutive post-season appearances including the aforementioned NCAA Tournament berth last year (UNCW fell to Duke). In addition to setting a school record 25 games a season ago, Keats has restocked his roster and is UNCW  the 65th ranked team according to KenPom. If that number sounds familiar to Bonnies fans, it should because going into Wednesday nights games, the Bonnies were ranked one lower according to KenPom, at 66.

Of course Keats is only a part of their winning equation and the Bonnies will need to be prepared for the roster and a talented roster that features the 12th ranked scoring offense in the nation at 88.6 points per game. Not only can they score, they can cause havoc for other teams by creating turnovers at a clip of over 17 per game which is good for 16th in the nation.

Junior and Preseason CAA Player of the Year Chris Flemmings leads the Seahawks scoring attack with 19.8 ppg and that is good for 64th in Division 1. Flemmings is aided by Senior Denzel Ingram, who is 14th in the nation in assists. Five players are averaging over 10 points per game and UNCW will bring a loaded offense that will look to run and gun with the Bonnies on Saturday. This game has the all the makings of an old-fashioned shoot out and on paper, this is one of the best match-ups in the RC in the last decade, as Ian pointed out yesterday in his post.

Stats:uncw-ken-pom

Roster:

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3 Things to Watch:

  1. Race to 90? The Bonnies are 43rd in the country in scoring and the Seahawks are 12th. Both teams look to minimize long possessions and try to win by taking more shots than the opponents. With five scorers in double figures, there is no one player that has essentially taken over for UNCW, making them even more dangerous. The Bonnies on the other hand have used hot hands at times to minimize offensive lulls and a key to winning could simply be who gets to 90 first.
  2. The Bonnies don’t typically get many opportunities in the non conference slate to notch a resume building win but this game provides the Brown and White just that. In addition to their KenPom ranking, the Seahawks are ranked 66th in the Sagarin Ratings. The Bonnies come in at 64th and this is probably as good as it will get until the Bonnies get into the teeth of the A10 schedule. SBU can also make it six wins in a row and then look towards the weaker portion of their non-conference schedule and hope to finish on a really long winning streak heading into their tilt vs. UMass. If you’re thinking of a potential NCAA tournament resume, this game fits the definition of “Bracketbuster”. 
  3. Can the defense make enough stops to get a win? The Bonnies raced out to a 12 point lead over Hofstra only to go into a malaise to start the second half and enabled the Pride to reclaim the lead with relative ease. Sloppy passes and laxed play almost saw the Bonnies lose a game they had in their hands, easily at the half. Hofstra was a decent test, but this Saturday will provide an even greater challenge. Short spans when the defense doesn’t execute can spell danger for the Bonnies especially against an experienced, and talented offensive squad like UNCW.

3 Things That Will Happen:

  1. Jay Adams will increase his national ranking in points scored per game. Jay currently sits at 7th and 23.8 ppg, while fellow A-10 foe Jack Gibbs is 8th.
  2. UNCW will be a formidable foe, similar to Hofstra a year ago in the Reilly Center. The Seahawks will play a tough 40 minutes, expect the game to come down to the last possession or two. 
  3. The Bonnies will win the turnover battle and won’t succumb to the pressure UNCW generates to the tune of over 17 turnovers forced per game. Jay will be cool and collected as always and have less than his five turnovers vs. Hofstra. 

Twitter Length Closing Take: SBU is under the radar no longer as Jay Adams explodes for 30 and shows the visiting Seahawks the door in offensive battle that the Bonnies eek out. 

Prediction: Bonnies 92, UNCW 87

Big thanks to the UNCW twitter account for sharing their stats.

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Jonathan is a class of 2006 graduate and covers the Bonnies when the team travels to Virginia.