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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 3, 9:30 p.m. (ET).
FACTS & STATS: Site: MassMutual Center (7,552) -- Springfield, Massachusetts. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: Siena 10-4, Manhattan 9-4. Away Record: Siena 3-10, Manhattan 9-7. Neutral Record: Siena 0-2, Manhattan 2-0. Conference Record: Siena 8-10, Manhattan 12-6. Series Record: Manhattan leads, 47-37.
GAME NOTES: As the final game of the quarterfinal round of the 2012 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament, the Manhattan Jaspers find themselves pitted against the Siena Saints at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Massachusetts.
The Jaspers, this year's third seed in the 31st annual event, played well up through the first few days of February, but then the squad lost four of the final seven games of the regular season. The team saw a two-game win streak snapped by Loyola Maryland last Sunday, 62-60, leaving Manhattan with a record of 12-6 in conference play.
As for the Saints, the sixth seed this year, prior to last year's tourney they had appeared in four straight title games, winning three in a row between 2008-10. Owners of five trophies overall, Siena comes into the postseason after registering a season-high 86 points in an 11-point win against Canisius last Sunday. The victory snapped a brief two-game slide.
The Jaspers, who last won this tournament in 2004 and have a record of 18-27 in the event overall, lead the all-time series by a count of 47-37, but it was Siena that posted a 70-64 win on Valentine's Day in order to split the regular-season series.
The winner of this meeting will be back in action on Sunday afternoon to contend against the survivor of the Niagara/Loyola-Maryland battle for the right to play for the tourney title on Monday night.
The top player on Siena is by far OD Anosike who leads the entire nation in rebounding with 12.9 per game and also paced the country in double-doubles with 22, at one point stringing together 17 straight games with such numbers. An easy pick for the All-MAAC First Team, Anosike ranks ninth in the MAAC in both scoring (15.1 ppg) and blocks (1.1 bpg) and is fifth in field goal percentage (52.2). However, as great as Anosike is in the paint, when it comes to converting at the free-throw line he is a mere 55.3 percent accurate and that can be a problem in close games. Evan Hymes checks in with 13.9 ppg and has just as many assists (100) as he does turnovers, so there is certainly room for some improvement on that front. Kyle Downey (13.3 ppg) accounts for 5.0 rpg and 86 assists, but that still doesn't cover up the fact that he has shot only 28.3 percent on the perimeter.
Manhattan is enjoying one of the biggest turnarounds from last year to this in the nation, posting 14 more wins in 2011-12 than it had a season ago. Much of the credit has to go to George Beamon who led the MAAC in scoring with 18.4 ppg and was named to the All-MAAC First Team for his efforts. In conference games Beamon was responsible for 19.6 ppg, shooting 42.2 percent behind the three-point line and knocking down more free throws (82-of-104) than anyone else on the team has even attempted over the course of 18 contests. No other player on the roster was a regular double-digit scorer, but that doesn't mean someone like Kidani Brutus (8.2 ppg) can't dial up the effort. In fact, Brutus made more three-pointers than anyone with 60, even though he started just six games.
The battle between Beamon and Anosike in the paint could well cancel each other out, which means it will be the supporting casts that decide the outcome, and that should work in favor of the Saints.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Siena 71, Manhattan 66
03/03 10:46:13 ET