My eyes firmly on the Mount's visit to Quinnipiac today. A chance for the young Mountaineers to guage themselves against the league's best. Video should be available here for the 2 o'clock tip. Looks like it is going to cost you $9.99 if you want to watch the game.
The Mount has to find a way to keep the Bobcats off the offensive glass. That won't be an easy task. And one that the Mounties have struggled with this year. I'm also concerned with what type of defensive pressure QU may bring. The Mount's young and inexperienced backcourt has gotten better as the season has worn on, but it is still a major concern.
Shawn Atupem has to stay out of foul trouble. Quinnipiac has a great interior game led by Justin Rutty and the Mount must be at its best upfront. That means they need Atupem on the floor.
QU has been pointing to winning the NEC since they lost in the Championship game to Robert Morris last season, so you would expect them to be up for their opener. The Mount enters off a 14-point win over Sacred Heart and stands 1-0 in the league.
Marist beat Niagara fairly handily last night as league play has begun in the MAAC as well. The other MAAC game played last night was Iona's nine-point win over Canisius.
The only NEC team in action last night was Monmouth. The Hawks got a nice win in Idaho over Eastern Michigan from the MAC conference. EMU is still winless against Division 1 opponents but anytime an NEC school beats a MAC school it has to be considered a good win. Monmouth which is now 2-3 will play Idaho today and North Dakota tomorrow before returning to the East Coast. The Hawks lost the NEC opener to Central Connecticut last week.
Some interesting games on hand today. I'm very interested to see how Penn State does against Duquesne tonight. The Dukes have a solid team and have only lost twice, to Robert Morris and Pitt. Penn State had the horrendous shooting effort against Maryland the other night, and faces the Mount on Tuesday.
Cal and Iowa State play in the Pac-10 Big 12 Series. Not really all that interested in that game to be honest, but I wanted to mention that the Pac-10 is 0-5 in those games.
Tommy Amaker returns to Michigan with his Harvard squad. The Crimson enter with a 5-game winning streak and won't be an easy matchup for the young Wolverines.
Milan Brown is looking for his first win at Holy Cross and the Crusaders are on the road at Wake Forest today. The Demon Deacons have not been very good but got a solid win over another struggling BCS member Iowa the other night.
Gonzaga plays Illinois today. I've been really impressed with the Illini and I would expect them to win today. The Zags are starting to get into a precarious position. With two losses already, and some tough games upcoming (Washington State, Notre Dame and Baylor) you've got to wonder if they might be strictly looking at a berth in the NCAA only if they win the improved West Coast Conference tournament. Something to keep an eye on. But they'll need to win some of these games if they have to ask for an at-large bid.
Utah State also has an at-large bid in mind with today's game at Georgetown. But I'm not sure it really makes any difference. The Aggies schedule is still going to be questioned. The only other top 100 game was the loss to BYU - and possibly conference games with Boise State. But if they lose both of the top 100 games - how do they make the argument that they belong? This seems to be a game that does a lot more for the Hoyas than it does for Utah State. Unless the Aggies win. And unless they catch Georgetown on a high after the overtime win against Missouri, I just don't see that happening.
Also we might get an idea of whether or not West Virginia is a contender or pretender today. The Mountaineers have been somewhat ignored after going to the Final Four last year - and play a good team would win - at Miami today. It's one of those early season games that helps to answer some questions we have about West Virginia.
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