Northeastern at Virginia Commonwealth (Colonial)
Siegel Center - Richmond, VA
9:00 PM EST
How many eyes do you need to finish this fight? You're gonna eat lightning, and you're gonna crap thunder! See that look in their eyes, Rock? You got to get that look back, Rock. Eye of the tiger. Get him a body bag, yeaaahhhhhhhh!
This is it. Everything has been leading up to this game, and at the end there's going to be a winner and a loser. No in-betweens, no do-overs, no screwing around. If you can't get up for the first-place game in the Colonial Athletic Association, then maybe it's time for you to drop out and take up competitive knitting. This is for the Cup.
OK, so it's a pretend
Cup, but this is the game that the semi-Page playoff
in the CAA has led up to. First there were three at the top of the heap: Northeastern beat George Mason at home, and VCU did the same
on Saturday. Now the two survivors square off in Richmond, a pair of 8-1 teams with sole possession on the line. The homestanding Rams are on a seven-game win streak, are covering poor rebounding with amazing ball control (9.8 topg), and are getting much improved support for star Eric Maynor
(22.4 ppg) from sophomores Joey Rodriguez
and Larry Sanders
. But something isn't quite right, and I posit that it's that elusive issue of not playing well with leads. They let George Mason back into the game Saturday after taking a big advantage, a pattern that played itself out in recent wins over Hofstra
. There's a Mortal Kombat killer instinct that's been missing, but there's still time to develop one. The 2007 team sure had it.
Northeastern prefers the rope-a-dope, slowing the pace down in order to cover its own size disadvantages and get the correct shot. It's worked -- especially in the 58-42 wear-down
of Old Dominion last weekend -- and the Huskies earn the most points per shot of any CAA team (1.128). Matt Janning is becoming a strong candidate for the 2010 CAA POY award
and reminds us a lot of recent Drake legend Adam Emmenecker -- Janning is doing every little thing right, and would run into a burning building if there's a basketball game to be won inside. Manny Adako
and Nkem Ojougboh
, the team's junior frontline, is steadily improving offensively, and they should be a better rebounding duo once their careers are over. For now, a lot of things are going right for Northeastern.
The late start is not in order to accommodate a two-hour pregame show, although this is the kind of game that warrants that kind of thing. It was moved for ESPNU, which will broadcast the continuing struggles of Bally's alma mater
at 7 p.m..Basketball State Preview/Box