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Four Mile Brewing Pre Game: at UMass (10-3)

Quickly: The Bonnies open A10 play on the road at UMass tomorrow afternoon with a 4PM tip time scheduled in Amherst. SBU had a disappointing finish to their non-conference schedule last weekend, as they lost an overtime game to Canisius at home, giving up 106 points. The Bonnies have beaten UMass on the road in each of the last two seasons, and have played well against UMass in recent years, most recently downing the Minutemen by two points, 85-83, last February at home in the Reilly Center. The Minutemen are 8-1 at home this season, have the best defensive field goal percentage against in the A10 (.384) and are fifth in scoring defense. They sport a talented group of freshman and sophomores that make up two very solid recruiting classes for Derek Kellogg.

The Skinny on UMass: Unlike recent seasons, UMass is a now a defensive oriented club that has done a terrific job on that end of the floor this season. UMass is top 34 in the nation in both two point and three point defense, showing that they can defend it both inside and out. They are still a club that loves to push the basketball, sporting the 33rd shortest possession length in the country when they have the rock. Once again, UMass struggles to shoot it from the perimeter, but are extremely effective scoring the ball inside the arc. They are a poor three throw shooting club, and have a top 30 turnover rate defensively. This Kellogg team is really drastically different than his other clubs and it will be interesting to see if they can continue this defensive improvement inside league play. Jay Adams and company will certainly put UMass’ defense to the test, as the Bonnies enter the game with one of the top scoring offensives in the country. SBU will want to work the ball inside and get their guards going to the rim in order move the defense around.



3 Things to Watch:

  1. SBU’s shooters vs. UMass’ perimeter defense. SBU enters the game as the top three point shooting team in the league (39%) and UMass has excelled in taking away that scoring option from nearly all foes to this point. If the Bonnies can find a way to continue to their hot shooting ways in Amherst, UMass will have a tough time beating SBU. Clearly, Jay Adams and Matt Mobley’s shooting will go a long way in determining the outcome in this one. SBU may need both of their junior guards to shoot it well in this one to earn a win.
  2. Offense vs. Defense- Usually games vs. UMass are offensive track meets that result in high scoring, close games. This time around it seems that while the pace will still be break-neck, the offense likely won’t come from UMass’ end. If the Bonnies can put up north of 80 points I think this is a game they win because UMass no longer has the offensive firepower to win a game like that. SBU will have to pack their lunch pails defensively, but the good news is that UMass is not a great three point shooting team, so they should, on paper, have one less thing to worry about defensively. If the Bonnies can win that three point line battle they’ll be in a great position.
  3. Free throws. SBU enters this contest shooting 76% from three and UMass 63%. If the Bonnies can get to the line enough, they should absolutely have the edge in this department. UMass thrives on scoring inside and in transition, lacking jump shooters. The Bonnies may be able to put a close game away at the free throw line vs. this club. A tight game in the final minutes favors SBU.

3 Things That Will Happen:

  1. 80 points will be the tipping point. If the Bonnies can get to 80, put this one in the win column for SBU. If not, I think their chances of getting the W decrease drastically. The game will be played at a fast pace and if SBU can force UMass to score with them for 40 minutes they’ll be in great shape.
  2. SBU will score it from deep. Listen, there’s no doubt that UMass sports a great perimeter defense but they haven’t seen a three point shooting attacking like ours this season. I fully expect this team to rebound after that Canisius loss and come out firing at the Mullins Center tomorrow. I will predict SBU shoots 37% from three tomorrow. 
  3. It will be a tight one. These clubs have played a lot of great, close games in recent years and I’ll take that to happen again tomorrow. Last year, UMass almost got a win in the RC but a last second three pointer was waived off and the Bonnies at-large hopes remained in tact. 

Twitter Length Closing Take: Mark Schmidt’s clubs generally bounce back from bad losses and I think SBU gets off on the right foot in A10 play tomorrow following that Canisius loss. I’ll take the Bonnies on the road by a basket in the Mullins Center.

Prediction: Bonnies 82, Minutemen 80

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A member of the class of 2008, Nolan spent four years as a student assistant with the program. He has written professionally for such outlets as espn.com/insider, Athlon Sports Magazines, Cox Sports Online and Blue Ribbon Previews. Ian was named one of the “140 Personalities to Follow in College Basketball” on twitter by The Sporting News.