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Friday’s Pregame Shootaround: MAAC showdown, two Big East games on slate

Feb 7, 2014, 12:51 PM EDT

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Manhattan at Canisius, 7:00 p.m. (ESPNU)

The preseason favorite to win the MAAC, the Manhattan Jaspers currently find themselves two games behind first-place Canisius in the race to win the regular season title. With that being the case, it’s safe to say that this one is of high importance to Steve Masiello’s squad. Individually speaking two of the best scoring guards around will be on display, with Manhattan’s George Beamon (18.5 ppg, 7.1 rpg) and Canisius’ Billy Baron (23.7, 4.8, 4.7 apg) both having the ability to light up the scoreboard.

The same can be said of the teams, with both averaging just over 77 points per game and having an affinity for getting out and running. The key: turnovers. Manhattan’s forcing nearly 16 per game, and at times the Golden Griffins have struggled with turning the ball over. If Manhattan’s to make a run at the MAAC title, this is a game they need to win.

WHO’S GETTING UPSET: Princeton (-8) vs. Columbia, 7:00 p.m.

Yes, a team that’s 0-3 in Ivy League play is the pick here thanks to the lines makers. Princeton was at one point expected to be Harvard’s greatest threat in the Crimson’s quest to make a third consecutive NCAA tournament appearance, but three losses to start the year have likely ruled the Tigers out. Tyler Bray’s leading the way offensively with an average of 17.8 points per game, but the problem for Mitch Henderson’s team has been its defense. Opponents are shooting 45.4% from the field, and this is an issue Columbia’s Alex Rosenberg (14.1 ppg, 3.4 rpg) and Maodo Lo (14.0, 4.1) can take advantage of.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR:

1) No. 6 Villanova hosts Seton Hall (7:00 p.m., Fox Sports 1), with the Pirates looking for their first win at Villanova since February 26, 1994. A good individual matchup to watch: Seton Hall’s Fuquan Edwin vs. Villanova’s James Bell.

2) No. 12 Creighton is also in action, with the Bluejays hosting DePaul (9:07 p.m., Fox Sports 1). Doug McDermott and Ethan Wragge are tough match-ups for any team, and Creighton may welcome back guard Grant Gibbs (knee) back as well. Gibbs injured his knee in the first meeting between the Bluejays and Blue Demons.

3) At this point in the season Brown may be Harvard’s biggest threat in the Ivy League, and the 3-1 Bears get their shot at the 4-0 Crimson tonight in Cambridge (7:00 p.m.). Brown’s limiting opponents to 38.3% shooting, and they’ll need to defend well if they’re to beat Tommy Amaker’s talented squad.

4) Southern Miss looks to keep pace with UTEP atop the Conference USA standings, with the Golden Eagles needing a win over Marshall (9:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network) in order to do so. Guard Neil Watson leads three Southern Miss players in double figures with an average of 12.2 ppg, and they could be in line for a big night against a team allowing opponents to shoot better than 44% from the field.

5) Mercer’s looking to remain atop the Atlantic Sun standings with a win at Kennesaw State (7:00 p.m., ESPN3). The Bears are currently tied with FGCU at 9-2 in league play, and in order to move to 10-2 they can’t afford to take the 4-20 Owls lightly.

OTHER GAMES OF NOTE: 

  • Iona at Niagara, 7:00 p.m.
  • Yale at Dartmouth, 7:00 p.m.
  • Charlotte at Tulane, 8:00 p.m.
  • Detroit at Valparaiso, 9:00 p.m. (ESPNU)