Northern Kentucky (0-0) at San Diego (1-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, November 14, 10 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Jenny Craig Pavilion (5,100) -- San Diego, California. Television: None. Home Record: Northern Kentucky 0-0, San Diego 1-0. Away Record: Northern Kentucky 0-0, San Diego 0-0. Neutral Record: Northern Kentucky 0-0, San Diego 0-0. Conference Record: Northern Kentucky 0-0, San Diego 0-0. Series Record: First meeting.
GAMES NOTES: For the first time in school history Northern Kentucky will take the floor as a Division I program when the Norse step into Jenny Craig Pavilion for their season opener with the San Diego Toreros.
The game is one of nine contests this season that are part of the 2012 NUCDF Basketball Challenge.
Northern Kentucky enters into the Division I level on a high note as the Norse went 23-7 last season and got into the NCAA Division II Tournament. As might be expected, the Norse have not faired well in its limited experience against Division I foes. In 32 total matchups the Norse have just six wins and 24 losses. The last win came in 1984 against Tennessee State. Northern KEntucky will play Tulsa in the next leg of the event.
San Diego enters play with a 1-0 record after routing NAIA foe San Diego Christian 91-58. San Diego can't be blamed for easing into the season considering the Toreros have not had a winning season in four years and are coming off of a 13-18 overall campaign. San Diego will play Cal State Northridge in the next leg of the event.
Due to the differences in level of competition and geography, these teams have never met on the hardwood before.
Returning to help the Norse in the transition to the Division I level are a trio of backcourt performers. Chief among the holdovers is swingman Eshaunte Jones, who scored 10.7 points per game last season while shooting very well from beyond the arc (.442). Ethan Faulkner (10.0 ppg, 4.3 apg) also scored in double figures on a consistent basis and will provide a steady hand at the point. Chad Jackson (9.4 ppg, 3.6 apg) provides even more depth and can handle the point guard duties at times with his ability to pass the ball. Where Northern Kentucky could get exposed in its first season is in the frontcourt. There isn't a whole lot of size or production returning to the roster. In terms of returning contributors, forwards Ernest Watson (6.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg) and Jalen Billups (5.0 ppg, 2.5 rpg) are the best options although both saw limited time last season.
San Diego dominated in both halves of its big win over San Diego Christian, shooting 51.4 percent in the game, while holding San Diego Christian to 30.8 percent shooting. The Toreros also held a massive edge in rebounds with a 53-28 advantage.
With the game in hand early on the Toreros were able to spread production across the roster. 11 different players scored and 10 played at least 12 minutes. Dennis Kramer was the lead scorer with 16 points off the bench. Going forward it is more likely that returning starters like Chris Manresa and Johnny Dee will lead the charge. Dee was the team's leading scorer last season (13.7 ppg) but finished with only eight points in the opener. Manresa had a nice introduction to the starting lineup with 14 points but only two rebounds. Christopher Anderson (9.0 ppg, 5.0 apg) picked up where he left off last season in the opener, scoring eight points, while dishing out six assists. Ken Rancifer (7.5 ppg, 3.6 rpg) teams up with Manresa for what could be a solid frontcourt tandem for the Toreros.
As a team that has 20 wins in five of the past six seasons, a move to Division I was certainly in order for Northern Kentucky. However against more established programs, even ones that have struggled like San Diego recently, the Norse won't have enough to keep up.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: San Diego 82, Northern Kentucky 58
11/14 11:28:50 ET