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Friday’s Pregame Shootaround: America East clash highlights light slate

Jan 24, 2014, 4:24 PM EDT

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Vermont at Stony Brook, 9:00 p.m. EST (ESPNU)

Just two teams remain undefeated in America East play and it’s the two teams many expected to be the leading contenders to win the conference title back in the preseason. And with tonight’s schedule boasting just six games this is a good opportunity to get familiar two two teams capable of hearing their name called on Selection Sunday. The Catamounts start five seniors and their most versatile player, Brian Voelkel, is averaging just 6.7 points per game. But when a 6-foot-6 forward also contributes 8.6 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game the scoring isn’t an issue.

Stony Brook will counter with a lineup that’s also experienced, but their best player is a sophomore in forward Jameel Warney (15.7 ppg, 9.0 rpg) who will give America East headaches for the next two years. The home team won both meetings last season, so that could work in the Seawolves’ favor tonight. 

WHO’S GETTING UPSET: Manhattan (-10.5) vs. Rider, 7:00 p.m. 

The use of lines is for entertainment purposes only, and Quinnipiac would be a good pick here as well given the fact that they’re underdogs on the road against an Iona team they outclassed earlier this month. But that would be the easy pick, so the Broncs are the selection despite the fact that Manhattan’s leading scorer George Beamon is expected to make his return to the lineup.

However in order for this to happen Kevin Baggett’s team needs to do two things: defend better (opponents are shooting nearly 48% from the field) and not turn the ball over. Manhattan’s forcing an average of nearly 17 turnovers per game, and Steve Masiello’s guards can get after you. But if Anthony Myles and the other Rider guards can keep up with Beamon and Mike Alvarado, and Daniel Stewart stays out of foul trouble inside, Rider has a shot. 

FOUR THINGS TO NOTE: 

  • Speaking of that MAAC battle between Quinnipiac and Iona, the Gaels get a shot at revenge after they were whipped in Hamden by 12 earlier this month. Tom Moore’s Bobcats, led by senior Ike Azotam, grabbed 20 offensive rebounds in that game. 
  • Northern Kentucky looks to move to 5-4 in Atlantic Sun play with a win over Lipscomb, with the Bisons having alternated wins and losses in their last four results (they lost to Mercer in their most recent outing). NKU junior guard Jordan Jackson is ranked either first or second on the team in points (first), rebounds (second) and assists (second).
  • Niagara’s lost six of their last seven games entering tonight’s home tilt with Marist, withe Red Foxes coming off of a win over Saint Peter’s earlier this week. 
  • In the second game of a three-game road swing Detroit looks to end a four-game losing streak with a win at Milwaukee. Juwan Howard Jr’s averaging 17.8 points per game for the Titans, with the Panthers countering with a balanced rotation led by forward Matt Tiby (14.2 ppg)