We are officially less than 24 hours away from 2020 URI Men’s Basketball. After last season was cut short, Coach David Cox is looking ahead and preparing his new team. There are tons of new faces on this Rhody team, and they are ready to show off the new talent.
The Rams will compete in the 2K Empire Classic, replacing the #2 Baylor Bears. Baylor’s head coach, Scott Drew, tested positive for COVID-19 after team-wide testing on Friday. Rhode Island will now take on #18 Arizona State at 7:00 on 11/25. #3 Villanova and Boston College are also competing in the tournament. Let’s take a look at each team.
#18 Arizona State
The Sun Devils are led by Bobby Hurley, brother of former Rhode Island coach Dan Hurley. This is a potential Quadrant 1 opponent for David Cox, and an upset would do wonders for the Rams chances at the Big Dance. A Quadrant 1 win is a win in home games vs. teams RPI ranked 1-30, neutral games vs. 1-50, and away games vs. 1–75.
Look for Hurley to push the tempo against Rhode Island, as Arizona State loves to get out and run in transition. The floor general will be AP preseason All-American Remy Martin, who decided to return to school after exploring NBA opportunities. He enters his senior season after putting up 19.1 points, 4.1 assists, and 1.5 steals per game as a junior.
Furthermore, they picked up two major recruits this offseason. Small forward Marcus Bagley was a four-star pick-up, and shooting guard Joshua Christopher was a highly-touted five-star recruit. This will undoubtedly be an extremely difficult opponent for the Rams.
Even though a game against the Wildcats is not guaranteed, the Rams could possibly match up against them with a win over Arizona State. Coach Jay Wright has another elite team on his hands.
Saddiq Bey has moved onto the NBA, but Villanova is still a national title contender. Clearly, the Big East favorite is going to give the rest of the nation a run for their money, as they entered the season ranked #3 in the country. This is because they return four out of five starters from last season.
Additionally, Rhode Island native Cole Swider should step into the starting lineup. In addition to being 6-foot-9, the junior wing has displayed excellent growth as a shooter. See below what you should look out for with Villanova.
Despite the fact that they are not ranked, Boston College is no slouch. The ACC team had impressive wins over Wake Forest, Notre Dame, Virginia, Virginia Tech, and N.C. State last season.
The focal point for the Eagles is junior guard Wynston Tabbs. He missed all of last season, but had an impressive freshman season putting up 13.9 PPG, 3.9 RPG and shooting 44% from the field.
They will also heavily feature Jay Heath and Steffon Mitchell. Furthermore, there is a ton of depth at the guard position to work with as transfers Rich Kelly (Quinnipiac) and Makai Ashford-Langford (Providence) will also be competing for minutes.
You can watch the Rams at 7:00 PM on Wednesday night on ESPN. Although they will not be favored, this is an amazing opportunity for the Rams. Fans should be excited to see all of the new faces. However, Fatts Russell will be the centerpiece of this squad.
The starting lineup is still up in the air outside of star Fatts Russell. To find out more check out Kevin Wehner’s season preview!
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