La Salle at Massachusetts (Atlantic 10)Mullins Center - Amherst, MA7:30 PM EST
Perhaps the most frequently asked question (that's "FAQ," for all you kids who've never been on the internet before) posed to me recently goes something like this. What's wrong
with the Atlantic
14? How have things gone from so right to so wrong
? Why don't they just call it the Atlantic Wrong
We here at TMM Mobile HQ can understand where all that's coming from, this is a nation obsessed with bid size. And this league has undergone some serious shrinkage in that regard, from five to somewhere around a two and a half in six short weeks. To that, we say: it ain't the meat, it's the motion offense.
If you look at it a certain way, La Salle (14-14, 8-6) is everything wrong
with the A-14, but anybody who loves the underdog has to think otherwise. One of the many teams dabbling with variants of the hot new DDM offense
, the Explorers have rocketed from total obscurity (a 4-8 nonconference start and a 3-4 beginning to league play) to serious player in the league race. By winning four of its last five league games, Dr. John Giannini's crew has taken the nation's 10th best long-distance shooting (40.2 percent from 3) to third-place status in the conference. All this despite having the third-lowest RPI in the league, at 158.
Though its league record is identical, UMass (19-9, 8-6) is a lot more saleable as an at-large candidate. A four-game win streak has lifted the Minutemen back into the conversation, and a healthy 38 RPI will likely get the team into the Big Dance should it achieve and lose the conference title game. This team boasts the best 3-point defense in the league (33.6 percent allowed), so that might be able to nullify La Salle's explosive shooters. The 'Men run, rebound and block well, and they do feature 6-7 senior Gary Forbes
, who leads the team in points (20.1) and rebounds (7.9) and has proven a heavy handful. But a loss tonight in the two teams' only regular season meeting, and UMass will likely be asked a lot about what's wrong
with them.MASS 100, LAS 63