Holy Cross (Patriot) at Siena (Metro Atlantic)
Times Union Center - Albany, NY
1:00 PM EST
You may be able to find a more exciting, more meaningful or more televised contest this weekend. And bully for you if you do. This one's for the true hoops geeks, who love watching contrasting styles. And hoo boy, do these styles contrast.
Siena, that's the fast team. The defending MAAC runner-ups have the league's best athletes, and run whenever they can. The Saint (Bernard)s spread the offense around with four double-figure scorers, and with 81 points per game in offense, there's a lot of love to share. But Kenny Hasbrouck, a MAAC POY candidate if ever there was one, is averaging 17.6 ppg and nearly beat Syracuse in November with his 24. On defense, Siena loves to press and trap, forcing opponents into 19 coughups a game and a 26 percent turnover rate.
Holy Cross is a great defensive team too, but they prefer to take it slow and stuff your shots. Only nine teams in America are better at stopping two-point field goals, and with 7-0 Tim Clifford patrolling the middle, the scareaway numbers are likely pretty high as well. Clifford gets it done on the other end, too -- a team-leading 15.5 ppg on 61 percent shooting. Cross' rebounding numbers (32 per game) are deceptively low because there aren't very many possessions in its games, and the fact that the 'Saders grab 56.9 percent of all caroms (46th best in D-I) is a more accurate measure of their skill in that area.
One set of mutual disadvantages that may cancel each other out is the extensive academic break each squad has taken. HC hasn't played since a 71-66 win at Saint Joseph's, and Siena has been out of action since sweeping its first two MAAC games on Dec. 7 and 9. Will the time off stiffen the Saints' quick legs, or will the Crusaders forget their defensive assignments because they're still thinking about all those ridiculously hard tests they just took? Tune in... if you can.SIENA 84, HC 77 (OT)
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