Ouachita Baptist (10-8, 2-3 GSC West) at Harding (9-6, 1-4)
I had a feeling that the Bisons might get off to a slow start in conference games, since two of their first three opponents were the top teams in the division, but I had no idea it would go like this. Five games in, UAM is the only victory? And that was on the road? This will hopefully be a hungry team tonight, and they need this win more than they have any win in quite a while. OBU will use the inside-out combo of Lucky Butler and George Kirby to try and overmatch the Bisons’ defense. As usual, the Bisons don’t match up well in terms of size on the perimeter, but OBU is not very big on the inside. However, the Tigers’ guards and undersized forwards rebound well, although they are still just seventh in the division. That part of the game will probably be the difference, unless the shots start falling for the Bisons on a more regular basis. I think we’ll squeak by, but that’s the optimist in me making that pick.
Computer prediction: HU 76-73
My prediction: HU 75-74
Arkansas-Monticello (10-6, 3-2) at Central Arkansas (11-5, 4-2)
There is perhaps not a better matchup among two solid GSC teams than this one. Delta State is too much better than everyone else, and these are two well-coached, talented teams that will probably finish #2 and #3 in the standings at season’s end. Mike Newell has some scoring guards with J.B. Williams and son Nate, and he has solid players at other positions, including the four-year-highly-touted Billy McDaniel, who is solid but has not lived up to the expectations raised by his freshman year. Rand Chappell coutners with a scoring guard of his own in Darryl Jones and an annual display of the league’s best defense. UAM seems to have the matchups inside with McDaniel and Brandon Mayweather, so I think the Weevils will pull out a tough road win.
Computer prediction: UAM 66-64
My prediction: UAM 62-61
Christian Brothers (9-6, 3-2) at Delta State (14-1, 5-0)
The Bucs should stop here in their run at GSC West mediocrity. They’ve been shooting lights-out, but I just don’t see them maintaining that through the next three games against DSU, UAM, and Southern Arkansas. Sam Bradley has stepped up when Kevin Weybright hasn’t, and Weybright has established himself as one of the league’s best players as a sophomore. His aPER of 24.86, while a step down from Jasper Johnson and Lonnie Smith, is still the third best in the conference. I would argue that his defensive value (solid, but not spectacular) makes him more valuable than Lonnie, so he might be second best. Sadly for CBU, Delta State has Johnson, and his 32.99 aPER is otherworldly. Only four other GSC West players are within 10 points of him, which is especially remarkable, since the average player is at 15.0 by default. Teammate Jeremy Richardson would be the star of most teams, but he has to settle for second on the Statesmen. F/C Victor Brown has actually been more efficient than Richardson this year, giving DSU three star-caliber players. Throw in several other above-average guys, and you have the makings of a champion. Needless to say, CBU shouldn’t be able to take this one on the road, if they even stay close.
Computer prediction: DSU 80-74
My prediction: DSU 81-70
Arkansas Tech (10-6, 1-4) at Henderson State (7-7, 3-3)
It’s easy to say that Tech has cooled off since conference play started, but they’ve been very close in all but one of their four losses. A combination of having an easy non-conference schedule and their luck simply running out has been taking place, and it will be tough to stop things from snowballing tonight in Arkadelphia. The Reddies have won 3 in a row and are probably starting to get confident, which is dangerous for a team with as much talent as they have. If they play together, they will win handily, and they might win even if they don’t. Then again, things like team chemistry can self-destruct in a heartbeat, so who knows what could happen. All I can tell you is that SAU will have a hard time matching Kelvin Brown and Dedric Spooner (if he starts playing more minutes) inside. If the Reddies could get average play from their guards, they’d be in great shape. Otherwise, this could be another typical close conference game.
Computer prediction: HSU 60-59
My prediction: HSU 59-56