As a wise man once said, CONFERENCE PLAY!
CONFERENCE PLAY.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) January 5, 2018
And the conference play matchups are loaded today, my friend. No matter your conference of preference:
America East: UMBC at Vermont, 7 p.m.
Atlantic 10: St. Bonaventure at Saint Joseph’s, 8 p.m.
Conference USA: Western Kentucky at Marshall, 7 p.m.
MAC: Buffalo at Ball State, 2 p.m.
Mountain West: Fresno State at Colorado State, 5:30 p.m.
NEC: Fairleigh Dickinson at Wagner, 4 p.m.
WAC: Grand Canyon at Seattle, 10 p.m.
WCC: San Diego at Saint Mary’s, 11 p.m.
It seems certain that there is going to be a conference shakeup today. Somewhere. Vermont has been good, but has been far from perfect, and now the Catamounts are without Anthony Lamb. UMBC has a stud in Jairus Lyles. Maybe Vermont gets knocked off. If not, maybe it’s Saint Mary’s, who has to face a scary San Diego team later tonight.
You’ve got the day outlined for you right there. You’re welcome. We’ll be checking in throughout the day with updates, but until then, sit back and enjoy.
UPDATE: 2:28 p.m.
The record might not show it, but Matt McCall has done a great job at UMass so far. The Minutemen picked up a really good road win today against a Dayton team that was coming off of a win over St. Bonaventure earlier this week.
At 8-8 with wins in non-conference play over Providence and Georgia, it appears that McCall has the program trending in the right direction in his first year. We’ve been saying all year that the A-10 is a bit of a mess, and maybe UMass is a team that finishes higher in the standings than expected. A pair of home games against La Salle and Saint Joe’s are good opportunities to continue the momentum before a matchup with Rhode Island.
UPDATE: 3:03 p.m.
New Hampshire just knocked off Albany in a 64-61 thriller. The Wildcats are now 1-1 in the America East and Albany — a team some thought might challenge Vermont atop the conference — is 0-2 with losses to two bottom-tier teams (Hartford beat them earlier this week). What’s going on with the Great Danes?
It’s not entirely clear.
Against Hartford, Albany got 23 points from Joe Cremo, 20 from David Nichols, and pretty much nothing from anyone else. That was concerning. But Greig Steire (13 points) and Travis Charles (12) both showed up on Saturday. Cremo led the way again with 20, but struggled for stretches in the second half and Nichols had an off game.
It doesn’t help that Albany simply doesn’t have a bench. Cremo, Nichols, and Campbell play basically the entire game, and now, with conference play heating up and cold/flu season in full swing, there could be some fatigue.
We should also note that Hartford and New Hampshire both shot well from three in their wins. The Hawks went 9-18 and the Wildcats were 10-24 on Saturday. Albany has been solid defending the three this year, so that’s a (small sample size, yes) departure from what we’ve been seeing.
Whatever is going on, Stony Brook is up next, so the Great Danes need to figure it out.
UPDATE: 4:03 p.m.
In an early season matchup between MAC favorites, Buffalo trounced Ball State with ease by a score of 83-63. For the second straight year, Nate Oats and Co. went to Muncie and handed the Cardinals a 20+ loss. The loss snapped Ball State’s nine-game winning streak, which was tied for the longest current streak for a mid-major.
For Buffalo, it was their best win of the season so far. They had only beaten one top-150 Kenpom team (Jacksonville State), but had regularly shown flashes of potential when matched up with stronger foes. The Bulls were very clearly the favorites in the MAC East, but today showed that they’re probably the team to beat in the entire conference.
One thing to note about Buffalo’s roster is that only one of their core pieces - Wes Clark - is a senior. Nate Oats has assembled a talented roster that will only get better in years to come as he continues to perform well on the recruiting trail.
UPDATE: 6:20 p.m.
The late afternoon games are winding down, so let’s take a look at some things of note while I eat leftover chicken stir-fry.
Penn beat Princeton in their Ivy League opener. It’s still wide open, but right now the Quakers look like the favorites in that league.
Duquesne is now 3-0 in the Atlantic 10 after a win over Fordham. You should probably start appreciating the job that Keith Dambrot has done.
Valparaiso snapped a four-game losing streak with a win over Southern Illinois.
Rhode Island won big. Ho hum.
There’s some solid games on the docket for the nightcap, so we’ll check back in later.
UPDATE: 7:10 p.m.
Tookie Brown hit a three at the buzzer to give Georgia Southern a 72-69 win over Little Rock. The good news is we have video of it, courtesy of Twitter dot com’s Stephen Warner. The bad news is it was taken from approximately 30 miles away and features the screams of the apparent camera holder. Nevertheless, enjoy.
3 point buzzer beater by @tookie_b to give @GSAthletics_MBB the win over Little Rock!! #HailSouthern #TookieBrown pic.twitter.com/VgEXxnt8nc— Stephen Warner (@Stephen_Warner) January 6, 2018
UPDATE: 9:15 p.m.
The matchup between Western Kentucky and Marshall was sneakily one of the more intriguing games of the day. It didn’t disappoint. The Hilltoppers hit the century mark in a blowout, and won 112-87. Here’s the box score from the game:
Some things of note:
- Western Kentucky only hit seven threes. Marshall hit 18. Western Kentucky won by 25.
- The Hilltoppers had two guys in the starting lineup with at least 25 points. You won’t lose many games when that happens.
- Josh Anderson, who was just ruled eligible by the NCAA yesterday, had 16 points in his college debut. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him work his way into the starting lineup in the near future.
- Adjin Penava’s only stats were a made free throw and five blocks.