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Critical Mass

The Minutemen of UMass (4-1) visit Syracuse (4-1) this evening. It marks their first-ever visit to the Dome, the last time they played at Syracuse was in 1974 in Manley Field House (they lost). UMass has won the past two meetings however, including a 65-47 win in the 1995 Rainbow Classic (Hawaii).

The Minutemen are hardly the national contender they were in 1995, but they may not be a complete pushover either. Last year, UMass captured a share of the Atlantic 10 Regular-Season Championship with a 24-9 record. They made it to the 2nd round of the NIT, defeating Alabama 89-87 in the first round.

Led by Gary Forbes (23.0 ppg, 7.6 rpg) and Ricky Harris (18.2 ppg), they won four games in a five-games-in-nine-days schedule. Head coach Travis Ford (2nd year) likes to keep the pace fast and keep the three-pointers dropping. Forward Etienne Brower leads the way with 15 3-pointers (62.5%).

They'll need to hit those threes if they want to keep up with the Orange. Every starter is averaging double-figures in scoring. The question is, will the defense show up? And will the turnovers stay away? The experiment continues.

Prediction: Syracuse 91, UMass 87

(By the way, don't forget to check out Travis Ford's official website. Can you imagine if Boeheim had one of these? you can't.)