Tonight the Robert Morris Colonials (19-14, 12-6) will be taking on the North Florida Ospreys (21-11, 12-2) at University of Dayton Arena in Dayton, Ohio in an opening-round game of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. The matchup will feature teams who each won their respective conference tournament.
The North Florida Ospreys, who have only been around since the 1992-1993 season, are gearing up for their first postseason match. Since joining the Atlantic Sun Conference in 2005, the Ospreys have never finished better than fourth place, as well as never finishing a season over .500, until now.
North Florida has had arguably their best season in team history. This can be attributed to sophomore guard Dallas Moore, who leads the team with 15.9 points and Chris Davenport, who averages 6.5 rebounds per contest.
The Ospreys have other players that have been recognized by the Atlantic Sun Conference for their play. Beau Beech, a junior guard, was elected to first-team all-Atlantic Sun and junior forward Demarcus Daniels was also honored as the Atlantic Sun defensive player of the year. North Florida’s coach, Matthew Driscoll, was also honored as the Atlantic Sun Coach of the Year.
Robert Morris clearly has their hands full, but do not expect the Colonials to sit and twiddle their thumbs. The Colonials ranked 30th in generating turnovers which means the Ospreys will have to generate a lot of separation and create clear passing lanes or Robert Morris will jump all over their mistakes. Over the course of the season the Ospreys have accumulated 788 3-point attempts, making 308 of them (39%), they shoot from behind the arch early and often.
The Colonials are no stranger to 3-pointers either. They have shot from behind the arc 555 times and made 211 of them (38%). Junior guard Rodney Pryor, freshman guard Marcquise Reed and senior guard Lucky Jones will all be relied on for offensive production. Between the three, they have generated almost 62% of the Colonials’ offense.
Pryor averages just over 15 points per contest, but more importantly, is one of the Colonials best 3-point shooters. Additionally, he leads the team with 76 3-pointers and has been honored as second-team all-NEC. Joining him on that team are Reed, who was also named NEC rookie of the year, and Jones.
For Robert Morris, expect them to come out early and try to put a lot of pressure on outside shooters. Generating turnovers and creating points will be essential for the Colonials as they try to stop a lethal 3-point attack from the Ospreys. They must also attack the boards, as the Ospreys have good rebounding.
For North Florida, look for them to spread out the court and pass the ball quickly to keep the Colonials guessing. With four Ospreys averaging at least five rebounds a game, they will look to take advantage of the Colonials being out of place and nab offensive rebounds.
The game will begin at 6:40 p.m. tonight and will be broadcast on TruTV and ESPN Radio 970-AM. The winner of tonight’s game will go on to play the number one in the South Region, the Duke Blue Devils.
Photo credit: RMU Sentry Media