Manhattan (20-12) at Albany (19-14)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, March 14, 7:00 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: SEFCU Arena (5,000) -- Albany, New York. Television: None. CIT Record: Manhattan 0-0, Albany 0-0. Series Record: Manhattan leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: The Manhattan Jaspers and Albany Great Danes continue their seasons this evening, as the two teams square off in the first round of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament at SEFCU Arena.
Manhattan earned its first postseason bid in six seasons, as the team posted a 20-12 overall record. The Jaspers placed third in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference at 12-6, their highest conference finish in six years. Navigating the conference tournament field proved to be too much for the team however, with Manhattan falling to Siena in the quarterfinals, 84-82 in overtime. Still, first-year head coach Steve Masiello has plenty to be proud of as the Jaspers had the biggest turnaround in Division I with a 14-game improvement over last season.
Albany comes into the postseason after a 19-win campaign. The Great Danes finished fourth in the America East Conference at 9-7, but failed in their bid for the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, with a 57-55 last second loss to Stony Brook in the AEC semifinals. The team opened tournament play with an impressive 63-45 over New Hampshire.
The Jaspers were one of the better defensive teams in the MAAC, leading the conference in field goal percentage defense (.404), three-point defense (.327) and blocked shots (4.9 bpg). Junior guard George Beamon was named a First Team All-MAAC member for his play this season, as he led the MAAC in scoring at 18.6 points per game. Sophomore forward Rhamel Brown isn't much of a scoring threat (7.8 ppg) but was named the MAAC Defensive Player of the Year after leading the conference and setting the school record with 79 blocks. Brown is 18th in the country with 2.5 blocks per game. Scoring depth has been a bit problematic for Manhattan (71.1 ppg), as Emmy Andujar (8.4 ppg), Michael Alvarado (8.4 ppg) and Kidani Brutus (8.3 ppg) are the best of the rest.
A strong offensive squad, Albany led the America East in scoring (71.9), field goal percentage (.445), three-point field goal percentage (.359) and free- throw percentage (.754). It certainly helps to have the AEC's most explosive scorer in Gerardo Suero. The 6-4 junior converted 46.4 percent from the floor this year, putting up 21.6 ppg (sixth nationally). Consistency was the key for Suero, who posted 20+ points on 21 occasions this year, en route to All-AEC First-Team honors. Help comes in the form of Mike Black (13.4 ppg, 4.2 apg), who was a Second-Team All-AEC selection, and fellow guard Logan Aronhalt (13.8 ppg, .889 free-throw pct) who was tabbed a Third-Team member.
The Great Danes have a dynamic scorer in Suero, but Manhattan can counter with Beamon. Coupled with Brown's defensive tenacity, the edge has to go to the Jaspers here.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Manhattan 66, Albany 61
03/14 10:41:22 ET