BASKETBALL BREAKDOWN: Rice Owls

North Texas Mean Green vs. Rice Owls

Date: March 11, 2015

Time: 8:30 pm CT

Location: Birmingham, Al

Line: UNT -1

TV: ASN (Where to Watch

Webcast:  AmericanSportsNet.com

Radio: MGRN – 88.1 KNTU-FM, 95.3 KHYI-FM

All-Time Series: UNT Leads 12-4

UNT Game Notes

Rice Game Notes

Projected Starters

 

STATS CUSA STATS Advanced Stats

Game Preview:

NT was on a 5 game winning streak and all was well. Now things have changed and NT comes into the CUSA tourney trying to regain momentum after suffering 3 straight losses. NT’s first round match-up is against a Rice team that is playing really well right now. Rice beat UTSA and took UTEP down to the wire at UTEP. Also take note that NT is trying to beat Rice for the 3rd time this season, which is always a tough task.

 

UNT O vs Rice D

Rice does not have a stifling D like ODU or UTEP. NT should feel pretty confident about being able to execute against the Owls. One guy who needs to get going is Jordan Williams. He has struggled down the stretch. Williams has been held under double digits the past 3 games. If NT wants to have any chance at winning this game or making a run through the tourney they will need a strong showing for Jordan. Also the Mean Green need to get their 6th man DeAndre Harris going. Harris and his instant offense could provide a big boost for the Mean Green if he can get back to playing well.

 

UNT D vs Rice O

Rice gets 43.5% of their points from 3 pointers, which is number 1 in the nation. They rely highly on getting quick looks from beyond the arch. Look for the Owls to push the pace so they can get those quick looks. Rice doesn’t want to let NT get their defense set up. Also NT has a tendency to lose accountability for shooters when teams run the floor. Watch for Rice to get good open looks early in this game before the Mean Green really settle in.

 

 Match-up Advantages:

 

Matchups

Key Personnel Match-up:

Seth Gearhart vs. Jeremy Combs

Gearhart is a tough matchup for any 4 because of how he can space the floor. He is not your typical run to the block and look for a post up. Instead Gearhart runs to the 3 point line and looks for the 3. He is deadly when given an open look.

X Factor:

Maurice Aniefiok – Maurice is playing his best ball down the stretch for NT. He has hit 9 3’s in the last 3 games. I expect him to score over 15 tonight and hit at least 3 3’s.

Keys to the Game:

  1. Force TO’s/Aggressive D. NT forced 17 TO’s last game against Rice. NT’s tourney chances rest on their ability to defend.
  2. Defend the 3 pt line. Its no secret what Rice wants to do. NT has to run the shooters off the 3 point line and force Rice to drive to the basket.
  3. Close down kick out lanes. A huge part of Rice’s game is dribble drive and kick to the open man for the open 3. If NT plays the kick out pass they will force a bunch of TO’s.

The Picks:

TEAMRANKINGS: Rice 67 – UNT 66

numberFire: Rice 62.9 – UNT 62.6

Mean Green Nation Basketball Analyst: UNT 69  – Rice 65

When you get into tourney play its all about match-ups. I happen to think this a good match-up for NT. Rice is not a good defensive team. NT shouldn’t have much trouble getting open looks. For NT this game is about using their athleticism to make Rice feel uncomfortable. I expect NT to come out scrapping and forcing TO’s. As long as Rice doesn’t start knocking down 3’s unconsciously then the Mean Green should win.

Go Mean Green!