What's at stake?: Both teams have aspirations for the postseason and that won't be settled tonight. But getting off to a fast start in the league is key. The Mount won the conference title on the road last year, but that is a fate no team wants to have to deal with.
When is tipoff?: Thursday Night at 7:00PM
Where is the game?: The Mount is back on the road to the site of last year's championship win. If you're not Mount fan #1 and on the road with the team, then our fine friends at MASN will once again have the broadcast as part of the Northeast Conference TV Network. Other viewing outlets include Fox College Sports, and the newly formed Connecticut Sports Network. The game is also available on ESPN's Full Court TV package (call your local cable or satellite provider for details) and over the internet at ESPN360.com. So basically if you don't get to see the game, don't blame me. But of course, WTHU-AM Thurmont 1450 will have the radio call. Steve Stofberg and The Mouth of the Mount Roy Sigler bring you the action on the Mount Radio Network. And if you want to agonize through the key moments with Mount fans worldwide and get my insightful analysis the whole way through, you can join us here at TheFanBlog for a live blog of the festivities.
The Analysis: If you believe the early season numbers, the Mount has been playing well and the Pioneers haven't. The records seem to indicate that as well. But Sacred Heart started slowly last year as well and really got it going in conference play. They did earn their first win of the season over Yale over the weekend. By comparison the Mount is #40 in the RPI and Sacred Heart is 310. In the Ken Pomeroy rankings, MSM is #130, Sacred Heart is 308.
Advantages for Mt. St. Mary's: Going on the road is never easy for anyone in conference play, but the Mount will have last year to call upon and bring back the memories of that positive experience to build some confidence. Plus the Mount has Jeremy Goode playing at the absolute top of his game right now. Goode, the preseason mid-major all-american, is coming off a 29-point explosion in the win over American on Monday night. His teammates have made key contributions as well and it will take a team effort to get the victory.
Advantages for Sacred Heart: One of the places where the Mount has had extreme success this year is on the glass. But Joey Henley, a preseason all-NEC pick, is absolutely an animal on the boards. He missed last season with an injury but is back averaging 16.3 points and 8 rebounds a game. He will be a test for the frontline of the Mount. He's undersized at just 6-5, but may provide some of the explosiveness around the basket that seemed to give the Mount bigs some problems in the game against Loyola early in the season. Meanwhile, the Pioneers have a bunch of other guys who like to line up and fire. At 6-6 Ryon Howard is similar in style to the Mount's Kelly Beidler, but probably doesn't have as much range. He's averaging 10.8 points early in the season.
What to expect?: How close have the Mount's five games been this year? Well entering the American game they had scored the exact same amount of points as their opponents. A five point win there means they average 1 more through five games. Yes, they've all been close. I think that Jeremy Goode will give the Pioneers fits. But they won't be shocked or surprised by him. They know how good he is. But I'm sure they'll see the improvements that he has made in his game. I think Goode will control things, get his teammates involved. This game should have a little bit more pace to it then we saw on Monday night at American. In the end, I expect four Mountaineers in double digits and a solid start to the NEC season with a road victory, lets say 80-70, after a close first half.
Any additional links about the game will be posted here as I see them