St. Bonaventure (16-14) at Central Florida (19-11) The St. Bonaventure Bonnies travel to the Sunshine State to face the UCF Knights in a College Basketball Invitational (CBI) first round contest Wednesday night in Orlando. The Bonnies finished eighth in the Atlantic 10 regular season and were eliminated by LaSalle in the opening round of the A-10 Tournament. UCF began the season strong, winning its first 14 games, but struggled during the second half of the season, going 5-11 and finishing ninth in the Conference USA regular-season race. The Knights lost to East Carolina in the opening round of the C-USA tournament.
The Bonnies are led by 6-9 junior forward Andrew Nicholson, an All-Atlantic 10 First Team selection. Nicholson averages 20.8 points per game on 57.1 percent shooting from the field. Ogo Adegboye and Michael Davenport each contribute 11.4 points per game. Despite the interior presence of Nicholson, who blocks 1.5 shots per game and alters countless others, Coach Mark Schmidt’s Bonnies are not a very good defensive team. The Bonnies give up 70.0 points per game.
The UCF Knights are one of the better defensive teams in CUSA and the nation. Opponents shot just 40.6 percent from the field versus the Knights this season, which ranks second in CUSA and 45th in the nation. Sophomores Marcus Jordan and Keith Clanton pace the Knights on the offense, averaging 15.8 and 14.0 points per game, respectively. Jordan is the son of NBA legend Michael Jordan. Coach Donnie Jones’ team was difficult to beat at UCF Arena this season, going 13-4.
The Bonnies and Knights have not played each other in the last 15 years. The winner of this game will face the victor of Miami (OH) versus Rhode Island in the CBI second round.
Miami University (16-16) at Rhode Island (19-13)
The Miami University Redhawks travel to the Ocean State to face the Rhode Island Rams in a College Basketball Invitational (CBI) first round contest Wednesday night in Kingston. The Redhawks finished second in the Mid American Conference East Division, and were eliminated by eventual MAC champion Akron in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament. Rhode Island went 9-7 in Atlantic 10 play, placing sixth in the conference. The Rams lost to A-10 champion Richmond in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament.
The Redhawks are led by burly 6-8 junior forward Julian Mavunga, an All-MAC First Team selection. Mavunga averages 14.8 points and 8.2 points per game. Seniors Nick Winbush and Antonio Ballard both contribute 12.6 points per game for the Redhawks. Surprisingly for Charlie Coles-coached team, the Redhawks are not very good on defense, allowing opponents to shoot 44.5 percent from the field, which ranks ninth in the MAC and 231st overall. Opponents actually outscored the Redhawks on average this season, 70.0 to 66.6 points per game.
Dynamic senior forward Delroy James paced the Rams’ attack with 17.3 points per game, earning a spot on the All-Atlantic 10 Second Team in the process. Guards Akeem Richmond and Marquis Jones provide the outside firepower for Rhode Island, making 70 and 41 three-pointers on the season, and scoring 11.4 and 9.2 points per game respectively. Coach Jim Baron’s team was 11-4 at the Ryan Center this season.
The winner of this game will face the victor of St. Bonaventure versus UCF in the CBI second round.
Weber State (18-13) at Oregon (16-17)
The Oregon Ducks were two more upsets away garnering access to the NCAA Tournament by way of the Pac-10 Tournament. The Ducks upset UCLA in the opening round of the Pac-10 Tournament only to fall to Washington the next night. Head coach Dana Altman’s club plays with great energy and that will be important as the Ducks face Weber State of the Big Sky Conference in the first round of the CBI. The Wildcats, who lost Big Sky MVP Damian Lillard earlier in the year to an injury, had a surprisingly solid season despite the loss. Scott Bamforth was third in the nation in three-point field goal percentage. The Wildcats will need to be hitting from the outside to keep the Ducks honest. Oregon has been playing with tremendous confidence as of late.
Duquesne (18-12) at Montana (21-10) The Montana Grizzlies came up a few points short of reaching the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year. The Grizzlies lost in the Big Sky Championship to Northern Colorado after a hard fought battle. Montana will host Duquesne from the Atlantic-10 on Wednesday in the opening round of the College Basketball Invitational. The Dukes lost a heartbreaking quarterfinal to Saint Joseph’s in the A-10 Tournament a week ago. Duquesne is led by Bill Clark, who averages 16 points and 6 rebounds per contest. The Dukes will have their hands full with the Montana frontline. Unlike most teams from one-bid leagues, the Grizzlies are not undersized up front. Derek Selvig and Jared Qvale are seven-footers.
By Zach Bloxham and Tim Coyne
DFN Sports Staff Writers