Okay, so I’m a little late getting around to this, seeing as how most of the girls’ games are underway, but here’s my take on tonight’s action around the GSC, Harding included (for once).
Harding (9-3, 1-1 GSC West) at Southern Arkansas (4-10, 1-2)
SAU may have surprised Henderson State the other night, but the Bisons bring a more cohesive and more talented group to Magnolia than the Muleriders have seen from their previous three GSC opponents. Both teams have strengths at forward, but SAU doesn’t really have an answer to Lonnie Smith or a powerful rebounder like Savadogo or Sprewell. Kenny Langhorne may have a typical good night, but his supporting cast doesn’t offer much else. The Bisons should be able to take this one, although all GSC road games are tough wins.
Computer prediction: HU 76-74
My prediction: HU 78-73
Arkansas-Monticello (9-5, 2-1) at Delta State (11-1, 2-0)
No one in the GSC matches up well with Delta State, but if one team has a good chance at beating them, it’s the Boll Weevils. Coming off a disappointing home loss to Harding, UAM should be fired up to take on the talented Statesmen. The tough opponent won’t be new territory for the Weevils, who have played four D-I teams (not five as some sources have said, although Northern Michigan is a good D-II), three of which were considerably better teams than DSU. Nate Newell will need to regain his shooting form, but UAM otherwise has the discipline and skill (if not the athleticism) to keep up with Steve Rives’ Statesmen. Monticello will need an answer for Jasper Johnson inside (something they may lack, since Johnathan Holland is no longer on the team), and that may be the difference in the game.
Computer prediction: DSU 80-78
My prediction: 78-76
Henderson State (3-7, 0-3) at Central Arkansas (10-3, 3-0)
The Reddies will take to the road in search of their first conference win, and they will have to do it against their former coach, who happens to have the only 3-0 team in the division. UCA hasn’t been tested much this year, but they have the solid fundamental skills that HSU has lacked in the past year and half since Rand Chappell left the program. Senior guard Darryl Jones didn’t play in the last game for UCA, though, so if he is injured, the Reddies will have a better chance to win than they otherwise would. Another factor in this game is that both teams play a very slow game, which means that there are fewer possessions for UCA to pile up a big lead, giving HSU more chances to stay in it. I still expect UCA to come out on top, but this may not be the mismatch it seems to be at first glance.
Computer prediction: UCA 60-54
My prediction: UCA 58-53
Arkansas Tech (10-4, 1-2) at Christian Brothers (7-5, 1-1)
Most of the games tonight are pretty intriguing, and this one is no exception. The Wonder Boys got off to a great start against relatively weak competition in the non-conference season, so now it’s time to see just how good they are. My reluctance to rank them highly, despite their solid record, has been somewhat confirmed by their 1-2 start. However, the win was against SAU, and the losses were to very good teams (UAM and UCA). This will be yet another chance for ATU to prove that they belong in the playoff half of the league instead of the bottom-feeders. To do so, they will have to contain Kevin Weybright, who managed to have a good game (along with several other Bucs) against OBU last time out. If Weybright can continue to keep the rest of his team involved, this has the makings of another great GSC contest. Still, I’m inclined to give the Wonder Boys the benefit of the doubt for their hot start, given that they have more than one proven solid player on their roster. I think ATU wins this one, but a stellar effort from Weybright could make it go the other way.
Computer prediction: CBU 72-70
My prediction: ATU 73-71
I’ll be back tomorrow, if not late tonight, with a review of what happened.