Saturday Mid-Major Preview & Predictions
BRADLEY (5-4) AT DREXEL (4-4)
Time/TV: 4 p.m., None
Line: Drexel -8.5.
Storylines: Drexel’s Chris Fouch appears to be healthy after back-to-back 23- and 24-point performances in wins over Princeton and Niagara. Fouch, who missed the Dragons’ first four games with a knee injury, and Samme Givens the main reason Drexel was picked as the pre-season Colonial Athletic favorites.
Key Matchup: Givens vs. Taylor Brown. The undersized Givens is one of the most creative scorers in the country and Brown has been one of the most improved players on the Missouri Valley each of the past two seasons.
The Bottom Line: The return of Fouch gives the Dragons another weapon and should set them back on course for a run at the Colonial title.
The Pick: Drexel 71, Bradley 56.
OAKLAND (7-4) AT VALPARAISO (7-3)
Time/TV: 8:05 p.m., None
Line: Valparaiso -1.5.
Storylines: At this point, both the Golden Grizzlies and the Crusaders could make an argument as their conference favorites. Oakland is 7-4 despite playing one of the nation’s toughest pre-conference schedules. Valpo is already 1-0 in the Horizon League after beating Butler on the road on Dec. 3.
Key Matchup: Valpo F Ryan Broekhoff vs. Oakland G Reggie Hamilton. The two will never go head-to-head on the court, but the game could come down to which Mid-Major star has the better outing.
The Bottom Line: Hamilton is nearly impossible to stop when he wants to get his shot. If this is a one-possession game, that gives the advantage to the Golden Bears.
The Pick: Oakland 81, Valpo 78.
CHARLESTON SOUTHERN (6-3) AT COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON (8-1)
Time/TV: 6 p.m., ESPN Full Court
Storylines: With Southern expected to compete in the Big South and Charleston a contender in the Southern Conference, this sets up as one of the best cross-town rivalries in a while.
Key Matchup: College of Charleston’s Trent Wiedeman vs. Southern’s Kelvin Martin. The opposing power forwards have seven double-doubles between them. It should be an epic battle under the boards.
The Bottom Line: Charleston is a little better and will have the crowd behind them.
The Pick: College of Charleston 82, Charleston Southern 71.
ST. PETER’S (2-6) AT LONG ISLAND (5-6)
Time/TV: 2 p.m., None
Storylines: Both teams were surprise entrants into the NCAA Tournament a year ago. Long Island should compete with Robert Morris, Wagner and Central Connecticut State for the Northeast Conference’s bid to the tournament. St. Peter’s will likely finish in the middle of the MAAC pack. It would have to pull off another March Miracle to go back to the tournament.
Key Matchup: LIU’s frontcourt vs. the St. Peter’s backcourt. Julian Boyd and Jamal Olasewere give LIU one of the nation’s best mid-major forward tandems. The Peacocks are led by guards Chris Prescott and Yvon Raymond.
The Bottom Line: This should be one of the most competitive games of the weekend.
The Pick: Long Island 77, St. Peter’s 75.