Previewing UNCW’s showdown with Charleston

Noah Thomas, Sports Editor

UNC Wilmington’s men’s basketball team sits atop the Colonial Athletic Association with a dozen games remaining in the regular season, and Thursday’s showdown with College of Charleston could end up being the most significant of the bunch.

The Seahawks (17-2, 6-0) are perfect in conference play and are on pace to have the best season in school history. Led by a combination of senior experience and a pair of sophomores playing well above preseason expectations, little has stood in UNCW’s way on the court.

Charleston (15-4, 6-0) finds itself tied with UNCW in the standings, but the Cougars’ path to this point has been quite opposite of its North Carolina counterpart.

Charleston coach Earl Grant prides himself in building teams specializing in defense. That prowess has panned out thus far, as the Cougars are allowing 59.7 points per game — good for sixth-best in the nation.

On offense, they average 64.8 points per game. That puts Charleston as eighth of 10 CAA teams.

UNCW, however, will travel down the coast averaging 87.4 point per game (tenth nationally). That’s good for a 13-point scoring differential, as the Seahawks give up about 74.6 points per game.

The key to Thursday’s game will be which team can control the pace. UNCW’s up-tempo style has caused problems for nearly all its opponents this season, but it has yet to face a team that likes to slow things down like Charleston.

The best bet for UNCW will be to keep Charleston in-check offensively. If the Seahawks are able to dictate the tempo, they’ll need to keep the shots to a minimum on any extra possessions afforded to the Cougars.

Tipoff at TD Arena is set for 7 p.m. Thursday. The Seahawk will be on-site providing coverage, so follow @iNoahT on Twitter for updates.