- Date: Wednesday, March 24, 2010
- Time: 7pm
- TV: ESPN2
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#1 seed Virginia Tech will face #2 seed Rhode Island, a tough team out of the
Atlantic 10, on Wednesday night for the right to go to Madison Square Garden.
The Rams and Hokies have not met since 2001, and the winner of
this matchup will face the North Carolina Tar Heels in the NIT semifinals on
At one point this season, Rhode Island looked like a shoe-in for the NCAA
Tournament. However, they lost five of their last seven games in the regular
season and slipped to the bubble, and they were not invited to the Big Dance.
Their exclusion is mostly because they beat only one top 50 RPI team this year.
The Rams themselves are 40th in the RPI, and went 25-9 on the season. They are a
very capable basketball team that went 4-0 against teams from the power
conferences this year.
Power Conference Schools
vs. Oklahoma State
It was not a great year for Providence and Boston College, but Oklahoma State
made the NCAA Tournament and Rhode Island knocked off Northwestern in the first
round of the NIT. The Rams have also played NCAA Tournament teams such as
Xavier, Richmond and Temple. This is a battle tested team.
Jim Baron is the head coach at Rhode Island, and that’s a name you might
remember. Baron was once interviewed for the head coaching position that Seth
Greenberg now holds, and for awhile it appeared that he would be Virginia Tech’s
next coach. But Rhode Island extended Baron’s contract, gave him a raise, and
promised to upgrade their facilities, so he stayed at URI.
Baron has 361 career wins as the head coach of St. Francis (NY), St.
Bonaventure and Rhode Island.
Baron coaches a solid, well-rounded basketball team.
Island Starting Lineup
Keith Cothran leads the team in scoring, and he’s also tops with 59 steals.
Cothran is a 32% outside shooter, and as a team Rhode Island takes a lot of
three-pointers. They’ve attempted 640 outside jumpers as a team this year,
connecting on 33.6% of them. As a comparison, the Hokies have taken 499
Rhode Island’s top outside marksman is Akeem Richmond (6-1, 180, Fr.), who
comes off the bench. Richmond has hit 77 three-pointers this year, easily the
most on the team, and he’s shooting 39.9% from downtown.
The biggest matchup problem in Rhode Island’s lineup is Delroy James. James
has solid stats, but he’s capable of taking over a game. He’s a tall, lengthy
small forward who scored 34 points in the Rams’ most recent NIT win against
Nevada. His height combined with his skills make him a difficult matchup on the
wing. He was 5-of-7 from three-point range against Nevada.
James has the potential to be one of the best players in the A-10 next
season, and he’s looking to use the NIT as a springboard.
Lamonte Ulmer is a tough, undersized power forward in the same mold as J.T.
Thompson. Ulmer shot 52.6% from the field this year, and he can also step out
and knock down an open three-pointer. He leads Rhode Island in rebounding,
despite the fact that he’s smaller than Rhode Island’s other frontcourt players.
Ulmer is definitely smaller than Will Martell, Rhode Island’s big 7-foot
center. Though he’s not particularly skilled, like most centers these days,
Martell is a space eater and could potentially be a tough matchup against a
smaller team like Virginia Tech.
Two players split time at the point guard position for Rhode Island. Marquis
Jones is the junior starter, averaging 5.8 points per game on the season while
shooting 35.1% from the outside. Jones led the team in assists with 136, and he
had just 52 turnovers. He split time with Stevie Mejia (5-9, 175, So.), who put
up 118 assists despite playing less than 20 minutes per game.
Jones and Mejia make this Rhode Island team go. They are very good at
protecting the basketball, which is one reason the Rams had so much success this
year. They beat Nevada 85-83 in their last NIT game, and the main reason is that
they committed just two turnovers as a team.
The Rams allow just 69.8 points per game, but their defense has been suspect
at times. Opponents are shooting 47% from the field and 35.5% from three-point
range against Rhode Island. Those are poor defensive numbers, but the Rams are
able to overcome them because of their turnover margin: +4.4 per game. With
extra possessions, they are able to win basketball games.
Virginia Tech is also excellent in turnover margin at +3.4 per game. The team
that takes care of the ball the best will probably be the team that advances to
the NIT semifinals to take on North Carolina.
Please see the link below for the Roster Card.