Mid-Major Weekend: Long Beach State Continues Grueling Road Trip at UNC
The upcoming weekend provides a handful of interesting games involving mid-major teams.
Highlighting the weekend is Long Beach State playing at No. 4 North Carolina. The 49ers have already upset the Pittsburgh Panthers, and, more recently, they came close to defeating Louisville and Kansas.
But along with Long Beach State, there are a number of other mid-majors that will be in action.
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Richmond at VCU, Friday at 9:00 PM
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Richmond enters this game with a three-game winning streak, and VCU is looking for a key win after a slow start to the season.
The big question in this game is whether the Rams can get shots inside against the Richmond defense, which is averaging six blocks per game.
Although VCU might have some offensive struggles against the Richmond defense, home court advantage could be the difference in this one.
My pick: VCU 67, Richmond 64
WIsconsin-Milwaukee at Northern Iowa, Saturday at 2:00 PM
Both teams come into this game red hot; Wisconsin-Milwaukee has won its last four games, and Northern Iowa has won its last seven.
Northern Iowa is the better shooting team, but Wisconsin-Milwaukee is a much better rebounding team. The UWM Panthers average 37.7 boards per game to 29.9 rebounds per game by the UNI Panthers.
Despite not being a great rebounding team, however, Northern Iowa has still managed to silence doubters with wins in all but one of its games.
My pick: Northern Iowa 67, Milwaukee 66
Long Beach State at No. 4 UNC, 7:00 PM
Long Beach State has proved that it is a tough match for top-tier opponents on multiple occasions this year. The 49ers defeated No. 9 Pittsburgh, took San Diego State into overtime, and then were able to stay close with No. 6 Louisville and No. 13 Kansas.
They have another tough matchup against No. 4 UNC on Saturday. This could be the most difficult matchup Long Beach State has all season since it will have some trouble dealing with UNC's team.
However, despite being a mid-major, the 49ers have some solid size; four of their seven everyday players are 6'7" or taller.
But that will not be enough size to take down UNC's stacked frontcourt.
My pick: UNC 93, Long Beach State 85
Murray State at No. 21 Memphis, Sunday at 6:00 PM
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Murray State, loaded with upperclassmen, could create a tough match for a relatively young Memphis squad on Sunday.
After losing a pair in Maui, Memphis has won three straight games, including a victory at Miami.
However, will the young Memphis team struggle against Murray State, which has three seniors and six juniors?
Most likely, this will be a relatively close game, but Murray State does not have enough in them to take down a national power like Memphis at this point in the season.
The Racers do not have a lot of size, and they will be mismatched against Will Barton, Wesley Witherspoon, and Tarik Black.
My pick: Memphis 79, Murray State 68
Other Games to Keep Track of
Old Dominion at Fairfield, Friday at 9:00 PM
This game will be a defensive battle. Between these two teams, there have only been two games this season where both teams scored 70 or more points.
Expect a low-scoring affair in this one.
My pick: Old Dominion 58, Fairfield 54
Lehigh at Wagner, Saturday at 4:00 PM
Danny Hurley and company will have a chance to extend their winning streak to three games before facing the Pittsburgh Panthers.
Meanwhile, we'll see if C.J. McCollum can light it up on Staten Island after scoring 31 points against Cornell.
My pick: Wagner 80, Lehigh 73
Thoughts on Any of the Games?
If you have any thoughts on these games or any other games going on this weekend that involve mid-majors, please feel free to comment below.