After winning their first three MAAC games (two of which were played in December), Sydney Johnson's Fairfield (17-11, 12-4) Stags lost three straight league games and looked to be anything but a contender for the regular season title. Well the players have looked more comfortable with their first-year head coach, and sure enough here are the Stags sitting just a game out of first place heading into the final weekend of league play.
Wednesday night's game between New Mexico and San Diego State was a big one for the visitors, as Steve Alford's team didn't own a single win over a Top 25 team. But also on the line was sole possession of first place in the Mountain West after UNLV fell at TCU on Tuesday night.
Friday's schedule may be light but there's some good action to take in as direction of the Ivy and Metro Atlantic races will be determined. Iona (19-5, 11-2) and Loyola (MD) (18-5, 11-2) are tied for first place with two games separating them from the pack (Manhattan and Fairfield leading that group), and the winner would take a big step towards grabbing the regular season crown. What should viewers look forward to?
Rivalry games bring more to the table when it comes to intensity, and that was definitely the case in the battle between #4 Missouri and #8 Kansas in Columbia on Saturday night. In a game that featured many momentum swings and neither team leading by more than eight points, it was Frank Haith's Tigers who landed the final blow. Kansas led 71-63 with 3:25 remaining but they would not score again, as Missouri finished the game on an 11-0 run to win 74-71.
One of the consequences of conference realignment has been the ending of some of the best rivalries in college sports. With #4 Missouri (20-2, 7-2) headed to the SEC after this season Saturday night's game with #8 Kansas (18-4, 8-1) could be the last time for a while these two teams meet in Columbia. But that's a mere subplot in this one as the Tigers are looking to move into a tie for first in the Big 12 while Kansas can strengthen their grip on the top spot with a win.
A week after being outclassed at home by first-place Saint Mary's there was no ignoring the importance of BYU's game against Gonzaga, especially if the Cougars were to remain alive in the race for second place in the WCC. Dave Rose's team responded as good teams should, taking control of the game with an 11-4 run to close out the first half on their way to an 83-73 victory. The frontcourt matchup proved to be the difference as BYU's duo of Noah Hartsock and Brandon Davies outplayed Elias Harris and Robert Sacre, with Hartsock's 24 points and 14 rebounds leading the way.
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