ROUNDBALL DAILY

Thanks to its loaded backcourt, Rhode Island is a legit NCAA Tournament threat

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For the first time since Lamar Odom was a high schooler, blissfully unaware of the existence of the Kardashians (the good old days), the Rhode Island Rams are in solid shape for an NCAA Tournament at-large bid.

Rhode Island (5-2) beat Providence, 75-68, on Saturday, in front of a packed house in Kingston.

It was a huge ‘W’ for URI fans—and the Rams’ second win over a Big East opponent, as they edged No. 20 Seton Hall, 75-74, in Brooklyn on Thanksgiving.

In just six years, Danny Hurley has built this program from Atlantic 10 doormat to one of the best mid-majors in the country. After knocking out Creighton and coming within a late 3-pointer of upsetting Final Four-bound Oregon in last year’s NCAA Tournament, it’s clear this group is a legitimate second-weekend contender.

URI lost 6-9 forward Kuran Iverson, who’s now playing for the Raptors’ G League team, and 6-7 Hassan Martin, who’s now balling in China, from last year’s team, but the rest of the key contributors are back, including one of the nation’s most experienced and talented backcourts.

Senior guard Jared Terrell (17.9 ppg) is a cagey and reliable scorer, like the old dude you ball against at the park who just knows how to work you. The Boston-area native is shooting 47% from the field and 43% from three on 4.3 attempts per game. He went for 32 in the win over the Hall.

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Last year’s leading scorer, 6-5 senior E.C. Matthews, only played in the team’s first two games before injuring his wrist (he’s out 4-6 weeks), but the Rams have been winning anyway. Matthews is an NBA prospect and arguably the team’s best player, but the backcourt is still electric even in his absence.

Fatts Russell came off the bench and dropped 20 in the win over Providence on Saturday. Senior Jarvis Garrett had 15 and 4 dimes.

6-3 sophomore Jeff Dotwin had 10, 4, and 3 steals. He leads the team in assists (4.5).

This team is loaded with quality guards, and you know what guys like Fran Fraschilla always say–guards win games in March. (Or something like that).

URI travels to Tuscaloosa to take on Collin Sexton and No. 25 Alabama on Wednesday. Win there, and you’ll hear even more about the Rams in the coming weeks.

Hurley has challenged his team with a difficult non-conference schedule, and they’ve rewarded him with some resume-building wins (both for Hurley and the NCAA Tournament, if you know what we’re saying).

The experience should come in handy in mid-to-late March–and yeah, the Rams will still be playing then.

Also see: 

Where Are They Now: Tyson Wheeler of the 1998 Rhode Island Rams

Providence has the look of an NCAA Tournament team

Patrick Ewing has unbeaten Georgetown looking much-improved

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