Nicholls State at New Orleans, 5:15 PM Eastern, unoprivateers.com
The Under the Radar Game of the Day heads to the Southland Conference today as first place is on the line between defending champion New Orleans and surprising Nicholls State. New Orleans enters today’s game in first place at 9-2 in conference play (12-10 overall), though tied in the loss column with both Nicholls and Stephen F Austin. The Privateers have won four straight games, including defeating Northwestern State by 18 points earlier this week. Travin Thibodeaux led the way with 21 points in that win and is now averaging 16.6 points per game, tops on the team. He also leads the Privateers in rebounds, steals and blocks, making him the clear player to stop today for Nicholls.
The Colonels of Nicholls State, after managing only two Division I wins in non-conference play, have come practically out of nowhere to battle for the top spot in the Southland. Second year head coach Richie Riley guided this team to 14 wins last season, but lost seven seniors off the roster, leading us to pick them preseason to finish in the conference basement. Instead, this team is now 7-2 in conference play behind Roddy Peters’ 18.9 points per game (second in the conference) and Jahvaughn Powell’s 2.4 steals per game (top 20 nationally). In fact, the Colonels 9.91 steals per game are 4th in the entire country and their 18.8 turnovers forced per game are 7th nationally. Add to that a potent offense (84.9 points per game, tops in the Southland) that pushes the ball (8th fastest Tempo in the nation according to KenPom), and this is a fun, exciting team to watch, and a team that could find itself sitting all alone in first place if they pick up a win today!