Let’s just get started diving into the numbers here.
Both teams have 4 wins; both teams average 61 points per game; both teams give up mid-60’s to opponents per game (65ppg for URI and 67ppg for Brown). Right off the bat, we know that this is going to be a very close game (regardless of who wins).
A big mismatch will be in the front court. Brown has a serious size advantage over URI. Using 6’8″ as the cut-off of a college “big man,” Brown has 4 players 6’8″ or taller. URI has 3 (one of them, Mike Aaman, may not play in the game). Brown’s big men are all 220lbs or bigger (their 4th is. 210). URI only has 1 big man 220lbs or more (Ryan Brooks is listed at 220). URI will have a very tough time boxing these guys out for rebounds. Brown will win the battle down low and Brown will get more possessions than URI which gives them more chances to put points on the board.
Even with the size, Brown is very guard-centric with their 2 starting guards each averaging 14 points per game (a combined 28ppg – 46% of Brown’s offensive production). Given that information, those 2 guards are shooting a combined 38% from the field and 31% from 3-pt land. They also turn the ball over 4.4 times per game. I think URI, at home, can muster the defense to shut these 2 down. This will force Brown to take advantage of the size mismatch (discussed above) which is something they are not used to.
Brown’s bigs (using the 6’8″ criterion above) all combine for 30ppg (49% of Brown’s offense). Comparing to the guards, these 4 bigs combine for only 2 more points per game than TWO guards.
Anyway, there are ways to shut down their bigs too. Their center, Rafael Maia, shoots 50% from the field (47 of 95) but only 46% from the charity stripe (25 of 54). URI needs to use most of their fouls on this guy. URI needs to foul this guy hard (not flagrantly) each time he has the ball in the paint. Make him earn his points at the line where he struggles.
Tucker Halpern is a unique case as he is 6’8″ and has played in 9 games (averaging 27 minutes per game) and only has 1 FT attempt of the season. He also has taken a significant number of 3’s on the season – 28 made on 66 attempts (42% from 3). This tells me that he does not like to drive to the basket much so URI can just come out to the perimeter to guard him and don’t give him space.
Cedric Kuakumensah, a 6’8″ forward, is the easiest to shut down of their bigs (who plays significant minutes – will be discussed with Ponticelli below). He shoots 37% from the field (26 of 71 for 6 points per game) and 55% from the FT line (16 of 29). He does not shoot much, but when he does, URI should make sure they defend him enough to not draw a foul as this guy is better from the line than from the field. As long as he gets no open shots, he won’t be a factor on offense. This guy is in there strictly for defensive purposes. He plays 26 minutes per game and pulls down 8 rebounds per game and 2 blocks per game. Kuakumensah’s mismatch comes on the defensive front as he will be one of the guys throwing URI’s bigs around like rag dolls. I do not see a way for URI to limit his defensive impact as the only way to shut him down is with size.
The last big man on Brown is Tyler Ponticelli. I’m not even going to scout him because he plays 20 minutes per game but only scores 2ppg, pulls down 3 rebounds per game, and barely blocks any shots. Just a total nonfactor.
If URI attacks this game the way I think they should, they should be able to win this game. They just need to shut down the guards and exploit the bigs’ weaknesses.
URI wins 66-60.