Who plays?: Mt. St. Mary's (2-2) renews the series with Navy (2-3).
What's at stake?: Other than Loyola, this has probably been the most consistent rival for the Mount since the jump to Division I. It is a local rival, and a win over Navy usually provides a little bit of extra publicity because its Navy. The Mount embarks on a long road trip, so it is important for the Mounties to start it off on the right note. With a game at Georgetown on Monday night and a pair of conference games later in the week, the Mount needs to shore up some of the difficulties it has had at the start of the season and get a good start to the league schedule.
When is tipoff?: Saturday at 7:00.
Where is the game?: at Alumni Hall on the US Naval Academy Campus. Radio coverage available on the Mount Radio Network, 1450AM WTHU. Also an internet streaming feed is available for purchase at http://www.navysports.com/
The Analysis: We think this Navy team is a notch below the Mount. The Academy has won 2 of 5 to start the season and is coming off an nice home win over Towson. Of course, we thought the same thing last year and the Midshipmen came to the Knott and walked away with an upset win. So the Mount must remember that and put forty minutes of solid play together to ensure the positive result.
Advantages for Mt. St. Mary's: Balance. The Mount has done a very nice job of sharing the points offensively this season and has four guys who can really be the leading scorer on any given night. In addition, they have started to show that Pierre Brown and Lamar Trice can provide some offense off the bench. Will Holland has missed the last two games with an injury and we wouldn't expect to see him until at least the conference opener. In addition, the Mount's consistent defensive approach keeps them in all games and Jean Cajou gives them the opportunity to take away the top scoring option for the opposition.
Advantages for Navy: Chris Harris has been the top scorer for Navy in four of the five contests this season, including a 37-point outburst against Towson. Harris is not a long-range deadeye, but has averaged 2 treys a game, but gets to the foul line and converts his chances (35-of-37). Jordan Sugars has been the more effective three pointer shooter making better than 50% of his attempts. He also gets to the glass leading the Midshipmen in rebounding and has grabbed 3 offensive rebounds a game. We expect that Kelly Beidler will earn this assignment and must neutralize Sugars.
What to expect?: After the loss to Niagara, we expect the Mount to be focused on Saturday evening as it prepares for a busy week. The Mount defensive effort must be at the top of its game. Navy has shot better than 40% from behind the arc in each of its two wins and below 35% in its three losses. That could very well be the tell tale sign in the game. Meanwhile, the Mount can't get frustrated with its offensive play. It is creating good opportunities. Eventually those chances will be rewarded. This might be a good game for the Mount to establish Shawn Atupem inside early and see what that brings on the perimiter. Navy has been outrebounded by its opponents, so that should aid the Mount, but it must keep the aggressive Sugars away from the offensive glass. I expect that Navy will have a run where it makes 2 or 3 three pointers in a quick burst that will give it some momentum. But I expect the Mount to be able to contend with that. I like the Mount to win an exciting and competitive game 75-69 in Annapolis.