There are 64 games on the college basketball docket tonight, including eight that involve Top 25 teams. It’s a busy night for sure and it includes four New York City teams, three of which will be on the road, plus a number of other intriguing mid-major games. Here are a few short previews of the NYC games, plus some other games to keep your eye on.
St. Francis Brooklyn vs. Monmouth: Tony Graham reported yesterday that Andrew “Red” Nicholas is going to miss this game for Monmouth. Nicholas was the guy using the most possessions and had the third best efficiency on the worst offense in the NEC. Tonight they’re going to play the best defense in the NEC. I don’t think this is going to end well. KenPom has the Terriers as a relatively heavy favorite, 15 points, and playing at home in the Pope Center it should be a big night for some of SFC’s better players. Jalen Cannon should feast inside against Monmouth’s small interior defenders. Also, Monmouth is terrible at rebounding the basketball. The Terriers are pretty good at it, especially for an NEC team. If Glenn Braica’s point guards manage to hang onto the ball this game could get ugly by the end.
LIU Brooklyn at Fairleigh Dickinson: This game is an intriguing one for a number of reasons. One is that LIU doesn’t play great on the road. Another is that FDU seems to have the perfect piece to go up against Jamal Olasewere (and get him into foul trouble) in Kinu Rochford. Finally, the Knights are probably desperate for a victory. Both of these teams are 2-2, but playing at home it’s possible that Greg Vetrone’s team might pull a slight upset. (Pomeroy has the Blackbirds as a 4-point favorite.) If you want a ton more on this game I suggest you check out Nelson Castillo’s always thorough preview at Blackbirds Hoops Journal. This will probably be a fast, high-scoring game. LIU should be able to get into the paint, it’s possible someone like E.J. Reed or Kenny Onyechi will have an unexpectedly large impact in this game if LIU pulls out the win.
Wagner at Central Connecticut: Of all the NYC NEC schools Wagner has by far the toughest task this weekend. The Seahawks will go to Central Connecticut and Bryant, two talented teams. Because the Seahawks are playing on the road, KenPom has them slated for a difficult, two loss weekend. This is the more winnable game of the two and the probable return of Jonathon Williams certainly doesn’t hurt. I would’ve had the versatile forward on my All-NEC Team if he had been able to play more games, but a nagging hip injury has held Williams back. He’s supposed to return tonight. If that’s the case it’ll be a big boost for Wagner’s stagnant offense. It’ll also present a challenge for Bashir Mason as Mario Moody has been the team’s best player the past few games. (I’d like to see Williams and Moody play together more.) While the points per game angle is a little overblown in my mind (Wagner actually has a better offense that CCSU in conference play), Cormac Gordon wrote a good preview of the weekend.
Manhattan at Canisius: After playing at home last weekend the Jaspers have the unenviable task of heading up to Buffalo for the MAAC’s most difficult road trip. The two-game swing starts with a tough one at Canisius, a team that’s been sliding downhill recently. Still, they can play a ton of offense and have the athleticism to take Manhattan out of some of the things the Jaspers do well. Rhamel Brown is going to have a tough game inside. Manhattan is a decided underdog in both games, so stealing even one would be a big deal and would help Steve Masiello’s squad stay .500 in conference play.
Other Games of Note:
- Penn at NJIT – This game will be ugly and probably very close. Quakers can’t afford the loss on the road.
- Valparaiso at Detroit – First place in the Horizon League is on the line with this one, both teams come in 3-1 in league play.
- Sacred Heart at Robert Morris – It’s the Pioneers and not the Colonials that are 3-1 in league play heading into this one, can RMU reverse its home losing streak?
- Eastern Kentucky at Belmont – Two 4-0 OVC teams face off. The winner gets to catch Tennessee State in the division. (Murray St. sure lucked out being in the West.)
- Arkansas-Little Rock at Middle Tennessee – A big showdown in the Sun Belt. MTSU is a fringe bubble team and can’t afford home conference losses.
- South Dakota St. at Western Illinois – WIU is the big surprise in the Summit and can extend its lead over the Jackrabbits to three with a home win tonight.
There are also some intriguing WAC games later in the evening (Utah St. at New Mexico St., San Jose St. at Denver) and Pacific will try to keep pace with Long Beach St. in the Big West with a game at Hawaii (oof).