The return of college basketball is always one of the most exciting days of the year, not only because the sport never fails to disappoint but also because it means betting on mid-major basketball again. One of the mid-major games that caught my attention today was George Washington playing host to Stonehill, and after a preview of the game, I’ll break down why I think the Revolutionaries start off the year with a win and cover.
Not only does George Washington enter this season with a new nickname, but they will also come into the season with members of the preseason All-Conference First Team and Second Team. The Revolutionaries finished last season ranked just outside the top 50 in points per game, and a big reason for that was their preseason First Team member, James Bishop IV. The senior averaged 21.5 points per game last year and is primed for a similar or even better scoring output this season.
Bishop IV will be joined by preseason Second Team guard Maximus Edwards, who averaged 10.5 points and 6.4 rebounds per game last year. As a whole, last year, the Revolutionaries were 33rd in the country in shooting percentage, but they will be without two key pieces, with leading rebounder Ricky Lindo and big man Hunter Dean both gone from the program.
Head Coach Chris Caputo made up for those losses by bringing in five players through the transfer portal, with the most prominent name being Darren Buchanan out of Virginia Tech. The former Gatorade Player of the Year in D.C. redshirted for the Hokies, so his first college action will come against a Stonehill team that went 14-17 last year in their first season as a D1 program.
The Skyhawks come into this year ranked 346th in the country on KenPom after producing some tough numbers last season. Offensively, the Skyhawks averaged 66.1 points per game (297th in the country) on a 50.9% effective field goal percentage (164th in the country).
As if it wasn’t challenging enough for them already on offense last season, the Skyhawks also lost their leading scorer, Andrew Sims. The loss of Sims means forward Max Zegarowski will have the ball in his hands a lot this season after averaging 12.5 a game last year.
George Washington will open the 2023-24 campaign as (-10.5) point favorites, and I’ll be backing them for my play. Stonehill went 4-11 in non-conference games last season, and now they’ll enter this year without two of three players on last year’s team that averaged double figures. That lack of offense gives them a very slim margin of error on defense that I don’t think they’ll be able to play at.
The Skyhawks allowed an average of 70.2 points per game in 2022-23, and opponents shot an average of 43.1% from the field and 34.6% from three. All three of those numbers rank outside the top 120 in their respective categories, which gives a solid shooting team like George Washington a significant advantage. James Bishop IV is one of the most underrated players in the country, and he should be able to feast on the Skyhawks' defense.
Defense is a weakness for George Washington as well, but I don’t think that will truly affect them until they play stronger competition. For the time being, the Revolutionaries should be able to do enough offensively to outpace a Stonehill offense that has an utter lack of scoring depth.
George Washington (-10.5)