Opinion: Top 5 matchups for men’s basketball

Credit%3A+Luke+Yost

Credit: Luke Yost

By Ethan Morrison, Contributor

“College Basketball Scheduling in 2020 is Wilder than a Goat Rodeo.” – Jon Rothstein

Finally, after many months of uncertainty and questions regarding the college basketball landscape, Robert Morris has released its full schedule for the 2020-21 campaign.

Many challenging factors went into scheduling games, especially during a pandemic. All conference games in the Horizon League will be played on back-to-back days at the same venue to limit travel. Along with that are five non-conference games that are scheduled for Robert Morris, having limited travel while keeping the previously contracted home-and-home games with Central Michigan, and Florida Gulf Coast that started last season.

With that being said, I will be breaking down my top five matchups for the upcoming season. I will be basing my rankings on the importance of the game, past matchups between the two schools, and the overall excitement surrounding the game.

5. December 2, 2020, vs. Florida Gulf Coast

Robert Morris has only faced off against the Eagles once in school history and it was last year in Fort Myers where the Colonials won a much-needed game by a score of 64-59.

I truly believe that it will once again be a tight game between the two schools. This is a very intriguing matchup because these two teams were evenly matched last year. While this year’s FGCU team is a far cry from the “Dunk City” team that went all the way to the Sweet Sixteen in the 2013 NCAA Tournament as a 15 seed, this is still a crucial matchup for men’s basketball.

4. December 5, 2020, at Saint Francis University

It didn’t take long for the Colonials to face off against a familiar foe from the Northeast Conference. Robert Morris will travel to Loretto, Pennsylvania for a rematch of the Northeast Conference Championship Game on Saturday, December 5.

The big difference for this matchup is that the Red Flash will be without their top two guards in Isiah Blackmon and Keith Braxton as they graduated after last season.

This is my number four game because it is a team that the Colonials have faced off numerous times over the years which makes this game even more interesting. Robert Morris has won the past two matchups in the series.

3. December 19, 2020, vs. Cleveland State University

Why is this matchup so important? It is the opening conference game in the Horizon League for the Colonials which is why it is high up on my list.

Last year Cleveland State beat Robert Morris in a non-conference game in Cleveland by a score of 70-59.

Even though this is only the first game in the conference schedule it is going to be very important for Robert Morris to take these first two games against the Vikings especially since they are at home and will be able to set the tone in the Horizon League.

2. December 9, 2020, at West Virginia University

Head Coach Andy Toole always likes to challenge his players with a tough non-conference schedule and this year is no different.

Robert Morris will travel to Morgantown for the first time in over ten years when they take on the Mountaineers.

Many may wonder why this game is so high on the list because it might seem that West Virginia will run all over the Colonials. The fact of the matter is that Andy Toole’s team plays higher-level talent tight all the time. Just take games last year against the University of Pittsburgh and Marquette University. Even though the Panthers pulled away in the second half, the Colonials were able to go into the half tied as RMU was fueled by the sold-out crowd in the inaugural contest at the UPMC Events Center. As for the Marquette game, they played the Golden Eagles tight throughout the as they took a lead into the half but eventually lost a nailbiter by a score of 66-62.

Expect Robert Morris to play stingy defense again against Mountaineers and make things interesting down in Morgantown in their non-conference finale before they move into conference play.

1. January 29, 2020, at Wright State University

This is my top game of the 2020-21 campaign for the Colonials as they travel to Dayton, Ohio to clash with the Wright State Raiders.

This game will garner huge implications in terms of where both teams will finish in the conference. As of right now, the Horizon League preseason poll has both teams ranked in the top half of the conference and this game might change the landscape of the conference.

I believe that Robert Morris will have a good chance of splitting against the Raiders this season as I feel like the team will be hitting their stride halfway through the season and will be able to go into Dayton and come out of there with a statement win.