The Bowling Green Falcons will head on the road to the Pete Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on Friday evening as they prepare for an early-season non-conference showdown versus the No.22-ranked LSU Tigers.
LSU comes into the season with NCAA Tournament expectations after making a run to the Sweet 16 last year. The Tigers haven’t been to the Big Dance in consecutive seasons since 2006, but they have enough returning talent to make another deep run. Can the Tigers get the regular season off to a strong start with a victory at home over Bowling Green on Friday?
Falcons enter season as MAC co-favoritesBowling Green enters the season with big expectations of their own this season. A year after being picked last in the MAC, the Falcons have conference championship aspirations. Head coach Michael Huger’s squad surprised everyone last season, finishing with a 22-12 overall record and a 12-6 mark in the MAC play -- their best conference record since 1999.
Multiple All-MAC caliber players. 4 starters are back. 10 letterwinners return from last year's runner-up.— Nick Piotrowicz (@NickPBlade) October 30, 2019
For Bowling Green basketball, the only goal is ending the drought:https://t.co/nuYW94ro3g
This year, they enter the season as co-favorites in the MAC and redshirt junior Justin Turner is a major reason why. Turner blossomed into one of the best scorers in the country last season, averaging 18.2 points and shooting 37.2 percent from 3-point range. He went through the NBA Draft process and was invited to Chris Paul’s Elite Guard Camp, but ultimately decided to return to school. Joining him in the starting lineup will be senior guard Dylan Frye, who has 78 starts under his belt over the past three seasons. He scored 12.8 points per game and shot 36.1 percent from deep last season. Senior point guard Michael Laster and junior forward Daeqwon Plowden are expected to round out the starting five, but the Falcons will have to find a replacement for center Demajero Wiggins, who was lost to graduation.
Wiggins was one of the nation’s top rebounds, ranking sixth in the country with 10.6 rebounds per contest and he sported the second-most free-throw attempts in the MAC. Duquesne transfer Dyland Swingle and senior Marlon Sierra are expected to should the load at the center spot to start the season.
Wade, Smart ready to lead No. 22 LSUTigers’ head coach Will Wade is back in the mix at LSU after being accused of recruiting violations and being suspended for the Tigers’ trip to the postseason a year ago. Wade, who is in his third season as head coach, is off to the fastest start by a coach (43-20) in school history. Despite the suspension and lingering FBI scandal, Wade managed to bounce back by landing five-star recruit Trendon Watford, who should step in and start immediately.
The Tigers will need to replace a few high-profile departures from last year’s NCAA Tournament team. Tremont Waters, Naz Reid, and Kavell Bigby-Williams helped the Tigers reach the Sweet 16, but all decided to pursue professional opportunities following the end of the season. LSU will welcome seven new players to the roster this season, headlined by Watford, who was the No. 19 overall prospect according to ESPN. Watford is expected to step into the big shoes left over by Reid, who was another highly-regarded five-star freshman last season. He will likely be joined in the starting lineup by the core of last year’s Sweet 16 team: Skylar Mayes, Marlon Taylor, and sophomore Javonte Smart, who is expected to take over the lead guard role in the absence of Waters.
Last season, Will Wade’s team finished the season ranked 12th in the nation in offensive rating and ninth in the country in offensive rebounding. However, 3-point shooting was a problem for the Tigers, who shot just 31.9 percent from deep, which ranked 290th in the nation. Three-point shooting could be a problem once again this year, as Smart, Mays, and Taylor all shot below 32 percent from beyond the arc last season. On defense, LSU ranked 59th in the country in defensive efficiency, but they struggled to defend the paint during SEC play.
- Falcons are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 Friday games.
- Tigers are 3-12-1 ATS in their last 16 Friday games.
- Tigers are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games overall.
- Tigers are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 non-conference games.