December 5, 2008 12:26 pm ET by Kyle Whelliston
Albany at Siena
Times Union Center - Albany, NY
7:00 PM EST
When you think great mid-major city games, there are matchups like Loyola and UIC in Chicago (also being contested on Saturday), or maybe the NEC's Battle of Brooklyn between St. Francis and Long Island. But don't forget a pairing with a short but potent Division I history -- the capital city clash in upstate New York, between two packs of dogs, the Saint (Bernard)s and the Great Danes.
Fans of the Scoobies fondly recall that Nov. 23, 2004 86-65 sandblasting, but Siena has clearly had the better of this series. Since this became a yearly marquee event during the 2001-02 season, Siena has generally dominated by winning six of the seven meetings. The last three games, however, have been decided by a total of 13 points. Fran McCaffery's Saints squad may be coming off a NCAA Round of 32 appearance and is one of those TMM watchlist teams, but is still reeling from an 0-3 run in last weekend's Old Spice Clasic down in Orlando. As in its slow start last season, Siena has been plagued with sloppy play and terrible outside shooting -- the Saints' foul shooting has disappeared, and the team is shooting just 60 percent from the line. It's not all bad news, though -- 6-8 sophomore Ryan Rossiter has stepped up in a big way, scoring 11 ppg, shooting 64 percent and grabbing eight boards per contest while the Big Three has slumped.
Albany fell to .500 last season and wasn't considered to be much of a factor with an extremely young team, but the Danes have compiled a nice little five-game win streak coming into the Siena game. Prolific blogger Will Brown's bunch swept D-I newbie Bryant, beat a quarter of the Ivy League (Penn and Columbia), and nipped an improved Central Connecticut State team by one. The Scoobie perimeter defense has been impressive so far, allowing only 27.1 percent of 3's to fall, and Albany's next generation is beginning to assert itself. Look out for Tim Ambrose, a sophomore guard who's on his way to doubling his scoring output from 2007-08, and fellow underclass backcourter Anthony Raffa, who's averaging 11.7 ppg as a freshman.
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