For the first time since the 98-99 season the Rams are ranked in the preseason. That's right, the URI Rams are expected to be one of the top (mid-major) programs in the country this year. You have go back to the golden age of URI basketball when they made 3 straight NCAA tournament appearances in the late 90's to see URI with a number in front of its name to start the season.
#24 Rhode Island Rams. Looks nice.
While it doesn't really mean anything before games are played I think it shows a lot about this program and what many expect to see this year in Kingston.
URI was picked by almost everybody to make the NCAA tournament last season and end their over 15 year March Madness drought. Then before halftime of their first game the season felt over, as star point guard E.C. Matthews torn his ACL in their home opener against American. The Rams battled other injuries as well all season long and disappointed by finishing the 2015-16 season at 17-15.
Now the pressure is on. It's going to be year 5 of Dan Hurley at URI. He was expected to be the man who brought this program back on the national level. It hasn't happened yet. While he has a pretty big excuse for last season, I believe now the pressure is truly on. I mean URI isn't going to fire him if they miss the tournament, but if this URI team cannot find it's way to meaningful March basketball then I think it is going to be a major disappointment for Hurley and the Rams. If this team wants to next the step in national relevance they have to make the NCAA tournament.
While being ranked in the preseason guarantees nothing it sure is nice to see something good happen for URI athletics. Can't wait for the season to start. Anything less than an NCAA berth in my eyes is a failure.