Quinnipiac at Sacred Heart (NEC)William Pitt Center - Fairfield, CT4:05 PM EST
There are a lot of great games this weekend, but precious few mindbendingly awesome ones that will set tones for weeks to come. We're going to be tracking the Cleveland State at Wisconsin-Milwaukee
clash in the Horizon, seeing that CSU dropped a game on the first leg of its Cheese State trip last night
at Green Bay, and Milwaukee is pretty hot lately at 6-3 in the league, with eight wins in its last 10. App State at Chattanooga
is suddenly huge in the SoCon, as both 7-2 squads (who've both been beaten silly by South leader Davidson) fight over the North Division. Saint Joe's at Temple
: Philly phun with a pair of remaining one-loss Atlantic 10 teams.
But none of these matchups thrill us half as much as the hot Nutmeg State battle between two candidates for the Northeast Conference championship. The Q is tied at the top with Wagner at 6-1 (10-8 overall), while Heart is a single beat behind at 7-2 (10-8). While Robert Morris got the big headlines for beating Boston College, don't forget that Sacred Heart played them within five on Dec. 28
, then beat Holy Cross two days later -- the 52 percent shooting performance against the Crusaders still stands as the highest total against that compromised defense all year. The Pioneers lost a lot of the scoring that led them to the 2007 title game, but they've been excelling with the bread and butter of any undersized, underskilled mid-major bunch: ball control and perimeter defense. They lead the NEC in both 3-point field goal defense and fewest turnovers.
Then there's Quinnipiac. With new head coach Tom Moore, the
Bobcats are attempting to construct the legacy that's eluded them in a decade of D-I life. They lead the NEC in nearly every shooting-related category, and have the league's most efficient offense (1.011 points per possession). That's because they have the league's most efficient player, a 6-4 senior guard named DeMario Anderson.
He's averaging 20.8 ppg, and because he only plays 32 minutes per game, that translates to 25.4 points per 40 minutes. He can also rob you blind like a Connecticut gas station
, averaging 1.8 steals per contest. We'll see on Saturday whether he'll be DeLightful or DeFeated.Basketball State Preview/Box