The Matchup: UC-Riverside (4-1) @ Northwestern (3-1)
Location: Welsh-Ryan Arena (Evanston, IL)
TV: The Big Ten Network
Radio: WGN AM 720
Fun Fact: UC-Riverside’s current four game winning streak is the program’s longest since joining the Division I ranks.
The UC-Riverside Highlanders 4-1 record might not seem that impressive when you look who they’ve beat. The list goes as follow: Sacramento State (61-49), Northern Arizona (59-52), Occidental (62-34), and Colgate (54-44). Now, I’m not going to try and sell anyone on the fact that Northern Arizona is a powerhouse or that a win on the road at Colgate is a monumental road victory. However, the fact is the Highlanders wins are similar to the Wildcats. Still, with the Wildcats ranked #23 according to the latest numbers at RealTimeRPI.com and the Highlanders coming in at #196 you would think this was an easy win for the ‘Cats. The truth is, though, I’m not sure.
UC-Riverside is not a powerful offensive team, but the numbers show they play excellent defense. They are currently allowing only 51.6 points per game. That’s a good thing for Coach Jim Wooldridge as his squad only averages 57.6. In fact, Riverside only has one player who averages double figures. Six foot 195 lbs. guard Javon Borum averages 11.6 points per game. Borum is a JUCO transfer from Wallace State. He is one of eight new transfers on the Riverside roster. The leading rebounder for the Highlanders is guard Aaron Scott. Scott is only 6-4, but he averages more than eight rebounds a game. It is interesting to note that the tallest player on the Highlander roster, 6-11 Kyle Clark, has not played yet this year. 6-8 forward Bryson Hampton a transfer for Seward County CC is the tallest of the Riverside starters. He averages 4.8 points and rebounds per game. The Highlanders shoot only 32.3% from 3 point range and 40.6% overall. In fact, in terms of three point shooting the Highlanders tend not to loft threes. They have only made 20 this year (out of 62) with Imperial Valley CC transfer Brandon Dowdy leading way by making 8 or the team’s 20. It seems NU won’t have to worry about the Highlanders beating them from behind the arc. The week’s next opponent, Florida State, might be a different story.
Prediction: Despite the fact the two teams’ combined record is 7-1 this game should go to the Wildcats in a manner similar to the Texas A&M-CC game. I say Northwestern, 77 UC-Riverside, 63.