It’s hard to believe, but yesterday’s game against George Washington is the last one the Charlotte 49ers men’s basketball team will play in January. While it began on a relatively high note (four straight wins against UNC Ashevile, Fordham, La Salle and Rhode Island), a couple of bad road losses to Richmond and GW have fans questioning whether the Niners can actually compete near the top of the Atlantic 10 or if their record’s simply fool’s gold. All in all, a 5-2 record (4-2 A-10) isn’t terrible.
February will be a completely different story.
Saturday is homecoming against UMass, a 2-2 A-10 team as of this writing. After that, the schedule takes a steep turn:
Wednesday, February 6 @ Temple
Saturday, February 9 vs. VCU
Wednesday, February 13 @ Butler
Saturday, February 16 @ Saint Louis
Sunday, February 24 vs. Temple
This will be the make or break stretch of the season for this Niner team. The good news: VCU and Butler have proven they can be beaten (by La Salle) and Temple has suffered a couple of close calls of their own. The bad news: it’s still VCU, Butler and Temple, three teams that have gone toe-to-toe with some of the best in the country (Temple beat Syracuse at Madison Square Garden earlier this year; Butler has beaten Indiana and Gonzaga; VCU, a top-20 offense, topped Memphis while suffering close losses to Duke and Mizzou). Saint Louis is probably the “easiest” of the five games in this stretch.
Meanwhile, don’t count UMass out–they have the 3rd best offense in the league behind VCU and Dayton (72.8 ppg).
So can the Niners get it going in time for this February death march? There’s several weaknesses that have been exposed now that we’re in A-10 play. Charlotte would do well to get them sorted out or they’ll find themselves in the bottom half of the league standings.