Albany (3-1) vs. Loyola-Maryland (3-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Sunday, November 18, 2 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Mohegan Sun Arena (10,000) -- Uncasville, Connecticut. Television: None. Home Record: Albany 1-0, Loyola 2-0. Away Record: Albany 1-1, Loyola 0-1. Neutral Record: Albany 1-0, Loyola 1-0. Conference Record: Albany 0-0, Loyola 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The Loyola-Maryland Greyhounds and the Albany Great Danes will meet in the Springfield Bracket Championship Game of the 2012 Hall of Fame Tip-Off Classic on Sunday afternoon.
Albany has challenged itself with a difficult early-season schedule and it has performed very well. It opened with a 69-66 home win over Duquesne, then following a loss at fourth-ranked Ohio State, it went on the road to defeat Washington, 63-62. In the Great Danes' opening-round game against UMKC, a double-digit lead in last five minutes shrunk to just two, but they connected on 7-of-8 free throws in the final 35 seconds to secure a 62-59 victory.
Loyola suffered a tough road defeat at the hands of Washington (85-63) on Nov. 11, but otherwise its season has started off great with three wins, including a 64-49 victory over Norfolk State in the first round of this tournament. After allowing the first bucket of the game, the Greyhounds never trailed as they held Norfolk State to just 35.8 percent shooting from the field and forced 19 turnovers.
This marks the first-ever meeting between these two squads.
The Great Danes had one of their worst shooting efforts of the season against UMKC, hitting fewer than 41 percent of their field goal attempts, but they were saved by an impressive effort at the defensive end as they limited the Kangaroos to 34.6 percent shooting. They also made the most of their trips to the foul line, draining 23-of-28 attempts. Jacob Iati was the exception to Albany's shooting woes as he rarely missed en route to a season-high 24 points, draining 6-of-8 from the field, including 3-of-4 from three-point range. Mike Black's night from the floor wasn't pretty (2-of-8), but he made several clutch free throws down the stretch en route to 16 points. Black remains the team's leading scorer on the young season with 18.3 ppg.
In addition to its hard-nosed defensive effort, Loyola also had a fundamentally sound afternoon at the offensive end, recording solid percentages from both the field (.460) and the free throw line (.765), while only committing 10 turnovers. Dylon Cormier was once again the catalyst with a team-high 19 points on 7-of-11 from the field, and he's averaging 19.0 ppg through the first four contests. Erik Etherly had a sluggish night from the floor, draining just 4-of-13 field goal attempts, but he finished with 12 points and added nine rebounds, three blocks and a steal. Robert Olson and Tyler Hubbard each chipped in with 11 points, and the two join Etherly and Cormier as the four Greyhounds who average double figures in scoring.
These two team both play a grinding style, which should result in a low- scoring affair. Give Loyola the slight advantage because of its more impressive shooters.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Loyola-Maryland 58, Albany 55
11/18 10:45:25 ET