Saturday, March 9, 2013

NEC second round outlook

Today, Long Island will make the short trip to Staten Island to face Wagner and your Robert Morris Colonials will play host to the Mount St. Mary's Mountaineers. The LIU-Wagner game will tip at 12:00 and the RMU game tips at 2:30.

Wagner has defeated Long Island both times they've played, the first by a score of 85-76 and the second by an epic score of 94-92. LIU was still adjusting to play without Julian Boyd and had a few players shaking off the rust from suspension in the first loss but provided a wildly entertaining game at Wagner, which saw the Blackbirds erase a ten point deficit in the last 2:06 only to lose off a Kenny Ortiz putback with one second remaining.

As many will remember, Wagner was in a very similar position last year as they are this year. Last year, Wagner was coming off one of the best seasons in school history and hosted a very experienced Robert Morris club with a chance to go to the finals on the line and could not pull it out.

There are a lot of variables that could determine this game. Wagner hung a 56 spot in the second half of the last game, can they do that again? Can they get another 7-10 shooting night from Mario Moody and have Dwaun Anderson go 3-4 from downtown again? I'm interested to see if that can happen.

Robert Morris has only matched up once this year with Mount St. Mary's and I think it's safe to say neither team had reached their best play. RMU won the game 76-68 thanks to a strong run to end the game from the Mount that turned a blowout into a close game.

Karvel Anderson lead all scorers with 22 and Russell Johnson added 14 but besides that we saw balanced scoring from the Colonials. Julian Norfleet and Shivaughn Wiggans did the bulk of the scoring for Mount St. Mary's with 21 each. The Mountaineers had more rebounds and free throws than RMU but really just ran out of time in this game.

Everyone knows the Mount likes to give you 40 minutes of the full-court press and RMU has struggled at times, but overall this is a much better match up for the Colonials for a few reasons:

a) Velton Jones is healthy, giving RMU two viable point guard options to handle the ball.
b) The Mount like to play small, which works well for Robert Morris
c) Mount St. Mary's likes to play more zone than your average team, which plays right into the strengths of Robert Morris' offense.

Maybe I'm more optimistic than I should be, but RMU is playing their best basketball of the year and their best is better than anyone else's.

My predictions:
Wagner over Long Island 85-82
Robert Morris over Mount St. Mary's 77-69

--Chris Cappella

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