Fresh off of back to back NCAA tournament appearances, it was no surprise that Kevin Keatts was hired by North Carolina St. UNCW chose to go with a long time Roy Williams assistant, who also played for four years under Roy at Kansas. Normally, a Roy Williams assistant would not be a great choice for a head coach. However, with every rule change the NCAA implements, having talent becomes more and more important than playing smart. It is sad, but true. Hence, an excellent recruiter, provided they can avoid the dreaded phone tap, can be a winning head coach. UNCW hopes, that is the case.
The new regime got off to a rocky start. After an expected blowout loss to local rival Davidson, UNCW came home and beat Campbell 88-84. Eight straight losses followed. Their final non-conference game was a neutral court loss to Howard University. Their conference defense began with a home loss to Delaware. Things looked bleak. A remedy arrived in a shorthanded Drexel bunch. Offensive minded UNCW found no defensive resistance from the Dragons. A 16-2 first half run by UNCW led to a 57-40 half time lead. They coasted from there, 107-87. By my power ratings, UNCW has improved a bit since conference began. However, they come to Philly losers of 2 in a row, a senior night home loss to conference champion College of Charleston preceded a 2nd half meltdown at William & Mary. UNCW is locked into the play in round. They will have to win 4 games in 4 days. Therefore they will likely need quality minutes from their role players. One would think a sound strategy for UNCW would be to rest their regulars and give their back ups more playing time, to make sure they are ready when needed next week end.
Somehow, Drexel finds themselves with an excellent chance to avoid the dreaded play in round. What more can you write about the Miracle on 33rd Street? Well, if we take the combined 2nd half scores of the previous game, Drexel defeats UNCW 114-63. So, there is that!
Will Drexel ride the momentum of that insane comeback and coast to a win vs a team who arrives on short rest? Will Drexel score at will vs a team whose defense was bludgeoned by Wm and Mary? Will Drexel remember the beating they took in Wilmington and come out with vengeance? Will UNCW treat this as let’s get ready for the conference tournament, by showing nothing new, resting their regulars and basically go through the motions in what is essentially a lame duck game? No, No, No and No! UNCW will be all in today. The games new found importance may cause Drexel to not be at their best. Drexel may struggle to come back to earth following the once in a life time win. Also, home teams often succumb to the emotions of senior day.
UNCW 91 Drexel 82