NIT Quarterfinals Predictions: Massachusetts vs Drexel
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
by Mike Stewart
Drexel coach Bruiser Flint was an assistant at Massachusetts under John Calipari, and recruited and helped mold Massachusetts coach Derek Kellogg into a solid point guard and leader of the 1995-96 Final Four team.
Kellogg became Flint’s graduate assistant when Flint took over at Massachusetts in 1996-97. The teams last met in a preseason scrimmage.
Massachusetts Minutemen (24-11): The Minutemen upset No. 1 seed Temple 77-71 in the Atlantic 10 tournament before losing the next day to eventual champ St. Bonaventure 84-80. The momentum has continued on the road in the NIT with victories over Mississippi State 101-96 in double overtime March 13 and Seton Hall 77-67 on Saturday. The Minutemen are 13th in the country with 39.3 rebounds per game, but 179th in field goal percentage (.433), which could spell trouble against the Dragons’ exceptional defense. Sophomore point guard Chaz Williams, generously listed at 5-foot-9, leads in scoring at 16.8 points and with 6.4 assists per game.
Drexel Dragons (29-6): Many believed the Dragons belonged in the NCAA tournament, but not the only folks that matter – the selection committee. The NIT showed Drexel some love, though, with three straight home games. The Dragons ousted Central Florida 81-56 on Wednesday and Northern Iowa 65-63 on Sunday. Drexel, which utilizes a seven-man rotation, is fifth in the nation in scoring defense at 55.7 points as Flint continues the defense-first philosophy he installed at Massachusetts. The Dragons are also No. 4 in 3-point field goal defense (28.8 percent), but will be put to the test as Massachusetts is 23rd in scoring (76.8 points per game).
1. Drexel won the Colonial Athletic Association regular-season title before losing to VCU in the tournament final 59-56 on March 5.
2. The Dragons are 21-2 since the calendar flipped to 2012.
3. The winner will meet Stanford or Illinois State in the semifinals March 27 at Madison Square Garden in New York.
NCAA BASKETBALL PREDICTION: Dragons 75, Minutemen 65.
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