The countdown clock overhead says we're getting close. I'm ready. Let's tip it off already.
Who plays?: Mt. St. Mary's travels to rival Loyola
What's at stake? It's the season opener for both teams. The two teams are meeting for the 163rd time, so it's bragging rights in the rivalry for both teams. More importantly, it helps both teams get off to quality starts. Both teams would like to get a win to help jumpstart the campaign. The Mount plays on the road two more times before its home opener, at Virginia Tech and George Mason, so this might be the best chance at a win before Thanksgiving. Loyola does play Tennessee State on Sunday afternoon but travels to Boston College for an NIT game Monday night, so it needs some momentum as well.
When is tipoff?: It's Friday at 7:oopm, that big countdown clock overhead ought to help.
Where is the game?: The game is at the newly refurbished Reitz Arena on the campus of Loyola College in Baltimore. For those of you unable to make it out to the game, its live on MASN - channel 640 on DIRECTV. Scott Garceau (the voice of the Ravens and host of the Scott and Anita show - with occasional appearances from Roch Kubatko) and former Bullet great Kevin Grevey with the call. If you can't pull it in on the TV, WTHU-AM Thurmont 1450 will have the radio call. Steve Stofberg and Roy Sigler bring you the action on the Mount Radio Network.
The Analysis: You can throw the records out when these teams get together. (I always wanted to say that about a pair of unbeaten teams in the season opener.) The Mount has gotten a lot of publicity after its NEC championship and appearance in the NCAA tournament last year. You know that Loyola would like to calm everything down and spoil the opener for its neighbor.
Advantages for Mt. St. Mary's: The experience of the Mount has to be a key factor for the Mounties. Returning seven of its top eight players from a year ago makes this team favored to be the top team in the Northeast Conference. The momentum of last year still seems to be pushing this team forward and helped push them in the offseason. They'll need to call upon all fo that in this one.
Advantages for Loyola: The Greyhounds aren't quite as highly thought of entering the season. Still they are expected to potentially contend in the MAAC this season. Plus they will enter with a little less pressure on them. In addition, they are playing at home and the Arena could be hopping on the season's opening night.
What to expect?: The Mount defeated Loyola 70-59 last season to register its first win. That was before head coach Milan Brown turned the Mounties loose offensively. Jeremy Goode did record 22 points, 9 assists and 7 steals in the effort. He consistently beat the Hounds up and down the floor. I would think they've been reminded of it all week at practice. The win was the Mount's 9th in the last 14 games against Loyola. Head Coach Jimmy Patsos often is trying to build his program and he's got to be looking at this one as a game that is sort of a measuring stick for where they are at. So often afterwards in Patsos' time as the coach, he's spent his post game press conference talking about how this is a good matchup for both teams and the series should continue. We figure he might be breaking that out again on Friday night.
We like the Mount to register its first win of the season, for the second year in a row, against the arch rival 77-69. Look for fine nights out of Goode and Kelly Beidler. Marquis Sullivan will do his best to keep things close for the Hounds, but eventually the depth and experience of the Mount will prevail in a hot and tightly contested game.