The GSC West schedule is divided into two halves, each containing nine nights of games. Individual teams play on eight of those nine nights against every other team in the division, with four games at home and four away. For the second half, the opponents are in the same order, but the home courts are swapped.
The first night of the conference schedule is tonight (Thursday), and Harding has the night off to watch everyone else start their seasons. The following is a breakdown of the matchups. To revisit how the “computer prediction” is calculated, you might want to read this post. My predictions usually won’t be far off from those, but I’ll show them as well.
Arkansas Tech (9-2, GSC West #5) at Arkansas-Monticello (7-4, #2)
This game will let the world know whether the Wonder Boys are for real. Thus far, they have played the division’s weakest schedule and managed an impressive 9-2 record. UAM, on the other hand, has played the toughest schedule, but despite their success, they still receive very little attention nationally. I think the Boll Weevils deserve a national ranking, but the scoreboard (and record)-watching coaches who get a vote do not. They fail to see that UAM has played the likes of Cincinnati, Dayton, and LSU, while ATU is playing Rhema and University of the Ozarks. I think the Weevils are ready to send a message, and ATU may be the victim.
Computer prediction: UAM 72, ATU 66
My prediction: UAM 75, ATU 64
Central Arkansas (7-3, #4) at Christian Brothers (6-4, #8)
Neither team has played a strong schedule, but I’m giving UCA the benefit of the doubt for being a highly touted team and having a good coach. They have not performed as well as advertised, though, and the computer prediction actually thinks CBU will win the game. I think UCA will pull it out, though it should be close. Darryl Jones (UCA) and Kevin Weybright (CBU) have been solid performers so far as go-to guys for these teams, so it may be up to those two to decide the game.
Computer prediction: CBU 69, UCA 68
My prediction: UCA 70, CBU 67
Henderson State (3-4, #6) at Delta State (8-1, #1)
The Reddies probably actually have the talent to keep up with Delta State in this one, but what they seem to lack is a selfless team attitude. They’ll probably surprise me a few times this year, but I don’t think that will be the case in this game. The Statesmen bring a supercharged offense (117.1 efficiency) into the game, and they like to run. HSU likes to slow things down, so this could be a battle of wits as each team tries to set the tempo. Ultimately, I think Jasper Johnson, Jeremy Richardson and company have more talent and will pick up a home victory.
Computer prediction: DSU 74, HSU 66
My prediction: DSU 76, HSU 65
Southern Arkansas (3-8, #9) at Ouachita Baptist (8-5, #7)
These are clearly two of the lesser teams in the league, despite OBU’s winning record. The Tigers only have one truly above average player, Lucky Butler, while the Muleriders are a different story. They give the most minutes to Kenny Langhorne, who is a pretty good player, but the three who get the next most minutes are their worst players. I’m not sure if this is a case of an overload at one or two positions or if it’s just poor coaching. Either way, SAU isn’t winning many games playing like they are, and I don’t think they’ll win this one on the road.
Computer prediction: OBU 69, SAU 64
My prediction: OBU 68, SAU 64
There you have it. I’ll be back Friday to break things down.