The two teams played last year at Anderson, and BG won by 11 points. They went on from there to get hot, win the Southland Tournament as a #7 seed and then win a play-in/first round game against Alabama State before losing to OSU. They entered the Dance as a #16 seed.
Broken record alert: they have played 5 NCAA tournament games since 1988, which is 5 more than...well, you know how that sentence ends.
Out of 33 D1 conferences, the Southland is ranked #29. On the other hand, UTSA is in the process of joining the WAC as part of conference realignment.
They were picked to win the Southland West Division this year. To date they are 6-6 with 1 non-D1 win. They have a couple nice wins--@Oral Roberts and Fresno State but they also lost at home to a struggling Pepperdine and UC-Riverside teams, as well as @Houston and @San Jose State.
Their current RPI is 192 against a SOS of 272.
They are coming off the loss to UC-Riverside, which their coach said was their worst loss of the season "by far."'
Last year's game was highlighted by BG getting 50% field goal shooting (in particular good shooting from JoeJak and Crawford) and forcing the Roadrunners into 20 turnovers. Scott Thomas had a double-double.
On paper, UTSA looks like a small conference version of Duqusne. USTA is averaging 74 points and 1.07 points per possession. The primary weapon is the 3FG....their overall FG% is about the same as BG's, but they are getting almost 33% of their points from beyond the arc...by contrast, BG is getting about 19%. They take pretty good care of the ball, and are nothing special on the offensive boards.
Like a lot of teams that have soem offensive firepower, they struggle a little bit on the defensive end, allowing 71 points per game and 1.03 points per possession. Sadly for this matchup, their primary defensive weakness is defending the 3 and obviously, BG could exploit that kind of weakness but is not in the habit of regularly doing so. They force turnovers on 23% of their possessions, which is exactly where BG is for the year.
They were expecting to be led by Jeromie Hill and Melvin Johnson III, both of whom were pre-season all-Southland. Hill is their 3rd leading scorer, hitting 50% from 3 and leading the team in rebounding. Johnson III, who was also Southland freshman of the year last year, is the second leading scorer and is hitting 40% from 3. The surprise in their lineup is Kannon Burrage, a JUCO transfer who is coming off the bench, playing 24 minutes a game and leading the team scoring 15 per game. Even in limited minutes, he is using a high number of possessions.
Bottom line...UTSA is no pushover, if there is such a thing on the road. Having said that, I don't think UTSA has shown anything other than that they would be an average to below average MAC team, especially this year. To get a bye in the MAC tourney, BG is going to need road wins, and this will be a typical example of the kind of road games teams win when they are earning byes.
Stylistically, it is a tough matchup for BG, but this is not Duquesne from the A-10. As we enter conference play, it would be reassuring to see this game end up as a win.