Around the MAAC: Previewing Opening Weekend's Games
Vermont at Loyola (Md.), 7 PM Friday
Anthony Winbush won't have it easy against Marqus Blakely, one of the best mid-major hoopers in the country. If unconfined, Blakely is capable of controlling a game from the post.
The Catamounts lost two of their top three 2008-09 scorers to graduation, giving the offensive advantage to Jamal Barney and the Greyhounds, whose offensive attack will revolve around the perimeter, where Blakely cannot alter shots.
Expect this to be a close game, but Loyola should emerge victorious.
St. Peter's at Seton Hall, 7 PM Friday
The Peacocks are primed for a solid season, but Jeremy Hazell, Robert Mitchell, Eugene Harvey, and John Garcia will be too much for Ryan Bacon, Wesley Jenkins, and Nick Leon to handle. A Seton Hall blowout seems to be looming.
Central Connecticut State at Fairfield, 7:30 PM Friday
Both of these programs have been bitten deeply by the injury bug. Voted the MAAC's fourth-best team by conference coaches, Fairfield will be without Greg Nero and Yorel Hawkins.
CCSU's star, Ken Horton, is out for the year. Without these significant pieces, predicting the outcome of this one is difficult. However, Fairfield, at home, has the advantage.
Boston University at Iona, 7:30 PM Friday
Even at their own Mulcahy Campus Center, the Iona Gaels don't stand much of a chance against the America East favorite BU Terriers.
Scott Machado is a budding MAAC star, but Iona simply cannot match the established talent of Corey Lowe and John Holland, who should lead their squad to a double-digit victory.
Siena at Tennessee State, 8 PM Friday
Despite starting on the road, the Saints should pick up an easy win in Nashville. It'll take some time for the Tigers, who lost five of their best seven scorers from a team that was less than mediocre in 2008-09, to build chemistry. Fran McCaffery should be able to unload his bench early in this one.
Rider at No. 18 Mississippi State, 9 PM Friday
Ryan Thompson won't let this be a cupcake for the Bulldogs, but MSU's formidable frontcourt will provide a comfortable opening night win by forcing the smaller Broncs to play a perimeter game.
Rider shot 35.3 percent from deep last year, but their defense will not be able to sustain the effort when the rim shrinks.
Niagara at Auburn, 9:30 PM Friday
The Purple Eagles have incredible guard play, which will keep them in the game, but their frontcourt does not compare to that of the Tigers. In what should be the best MAAC game of opening night, Niagara's lack of size will probably lead to a loss.
Marist at Rutgers, 2 PM Saturday
There's only one reason to watch a tale of two teams known by their respective conferences as the league's laughingstock: Mike Rosario, Rutgers' star sophomore point guard. With Rosario and much better size than Marist, Rutgers should win this one by a lot.
N.J.I.T. at Manhattan, 2 PM Saturday
For the fourth straight year, the Jaspers will open their season against the Highlanders. Manhattan has averaged a 22-point margin of victory in the three previous meetings, and this year's game should not be much different.
N.J.I.T. is still terrible and the Jaspers should be able to start 2009-10 with a double-digit win.
No Jasper has ever eclipsed 20 points against N.J.I.T., but Rico Pickett will likely become the first to do so in his Jasper debut.
Loyola (Md.) at No. 8 West Virginia, 4 PM Sunday
It'll be interesting to see what Jimmy Patsos pulls out of his bag of tricks against a top team with many weapons. Whatever he tries will be a futile attempt, as the Greyhounds don't stand a chance against the powerful Mountaineers.
Fordham at Fairfield, 7 PM Sunday
Jio Fontan is the lone bright spot on the Rams and Fairfield's rookie guards will have their hands full trying to stop him. But, even without Greg Nero and Yorel Hawkins, the Stags should prevail against a weak Fordham squad.
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