Preview: Men’s basketball vs. Massachusetts

What: Men’s basketball vs. Massachusetts
Where: Charles E. Smith Center
When: Thursday, Feb. 22 at 7 p.m.

The Colonials (14-13, 6-8 A-10) will host the Minutemen (13-14 , 3-11 A-10) Thursday with just four games remaining in the regular season.

Both teams, who are below .500 in the Atlantic 10, will be looking to pick up a game in the win column before conference seeding is decided in less than two weeks.

The case for the Colonials:

GW has lost four of its last six games, but is coming off a 77–70 victory over Duquesne on the road Sunday. The Colonials have not seen Massachusetts all year, but have three more conference wins – including beating St. Bonaventure and George Mason, who both have winning records.

The Colonials were outshot by the Dukes from the field, but found consistency in the three-point shot. Look for GW to have the advantage from behind the arc again, where the Minutemen fall last in league in efficiency.

Massachusetts also has not had the firepower that the Colonials possess on the boards. Graduate students Tyler Cavanaugh and Patrick Steeves along with freshmen Arnaldo Toro, Collin Smith and Kevin Marfo provide GW with a tough-to-match frontcourt depth.

Although their record may not show it, the Colonials have been playing better lately and their defense has improved. They allow 2.3 less points per game than the Minutemen and have held teams like VCU and St. Bonaventure to under 38 percent shooting.

The case for the Minutemen:

Although Massachusetts has only picked up three conference wins, one of them was a eight-point victory over league-leader Dayton. It was one of the Flyers two losses since A-10 play started and displayed the Minutemen’s ability to get a big win.

Also, despite its record, Massachusetts has one of the strongest defenses in the conference. They have only allowed their opponents to shoot 40.6 percent from the field, the second lowest in the A-10. The other two teams in the top four of field goal percentage allowed combine for a 3-0 record against GW.

The Minutemen are led by junior guard Donte Clark on the offensive end. He leads the team with 14.3 points per game on 42.3 percent shooting. Expect junior guard Yuta Watanabe to match up with him and the pair to be one to watch.

The bottom line:

The Colonials have defeated six opponents who have beat the Minutemen and been more competitive in the conference throughout the season. GW should have the edge on Thursday, but it will likely be a close game, similar to how many of Massachusetts’s games have been all year.

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