Saturday NYC Preview
It's a busy day in the New York metropolitan area, with fifteen games on the slate. The NEC schools are steamrolling towards their conference tournament, looking to sort out seeding as well as who will participate. The MAAC takes a break from league play today, taking part in the BracketBusters event. The Ivy League race has turned the corner, with Yale beating Cornell last night to throw that race for a loop. Princeton and Columbia also won games, inserting themselves back into the race in the process.
That makes tonight's game between Columbia and Yale (already a family affair between head coaches Joe and James Jones) that much more important. Lastly, Fordham looks to upset an explosive Rhode Island team at Rose Hill Gym without the services of Trey Blue, who returned to Illinois for personal reasons. For previews of games involving MAAC and NEC schools, click on the links above.
Rhode Island (19-8, 8-4 Atlantic 10) @ Fordham (3-20, 1-10), 1 PM
Fordham needs a serious run to avoid missing the Atlantic 10 Tournament, so the loss of Trey Blue comes at the worst possible time. And today they face a Rhode Island team that may still have a run left at the conference title. They'll need some help, but Jimmy Baron and Kaheim Seawright are solid players who can lead Rhody to the top of the standings by season's end. Fordham struggles offensively, so seeing a team as prolific as Rhode Island right now is not a good thing. Alberto Estwick and Jio Fontan have played well as freshmen, but Coach Whittenburg's team doesn't have enough weapons right now. My pick: Rhode Island.
Dartmouth (7-16, 5-4 Ivy) @ Princeton (10-11, 5-3), 6 PM
Thanks to Yale's win over Cornell the Tigers sit just a game out of first place in the loss column, which is a major development given the youth of Sydney Johnson's team. But they're going to have a major test on their hands tonight in slowing down Dartmouth's Alex Barnett (19.5 ppg), something they were unable to do in last month's meeting. Barnett went for 24 and 9 rebounds, but Princeton still won the game because of their overall defense. So in short, Barnett will most likely get his. But if Princeton can shut down the other players on the floor for Dartmouth their balance should win out at Jadwin Gym. My pick: Princeton.
Columbia (11-12, 6-3) @ Yale (10-13, 5-4), 7 PM
The last time these two met the Lions were able to hold Yale to forty-two points at home. But now they hit the road for the rematch, and the Bulldogs are playing much better offense than they were back in January (they followed that loss with thirty-six points against Cornell). Alex Zampier and Ross Morin have played well for the Bulldogs in recent games, and four starters reached double figures in the 72-60 win over Cornell last night. The Lions have won six of their last seven games, with freshman Norwua Agho emerging as a candidate for Rookie of the Year honors. Expect this game to be close given the familiarity of the head coaches. My pick: Yale.
NJIT (1-25) @ Houston Baptist (3-23), 8:05 PM
The Highlanders struggle offensively (49.3 ppg); the Huskies struggle defensively (83.5 ppg allowed). Many would categorize this game as a pillow fight, but it could turn out to be entertaining. Both teams have a trio of players who are counted on to score the majority of their points, with Isaiah Wilkerson (NJIT) and Gordon Watt (Houston Baptist) leading the way respectively. But the Highlanders haven't won a road game in a few years, meaning that this could be their best shot at ending that skid. My pick: Houston Baptist.