Loyola-Maryland (20-8) at Manhattan (20-10)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Sunday, February 26th, 4:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Draddy Gym (2,345) -- Riverdale, New York. Television: None. Home Record: Loyola 10-2, Manhattan 9-3. Away Record: Loyola 10-6, Manhattan 9-7. Neutral Record: Loyola 0-0, Manhattan 2-0. Conference Record: Loyola 12-4, Manhattan 11-5. Series Record: Manhattan leads, 31-21.
GAME NOTES: Two teams tied for second place in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference square off in the regular-season finale, as the Manhattan Jaspers play host to the Loyola-Maryland Greyhounds today at Draddy Gym in Riverdale.
Loyola has been one of the MAAC's best teams this season at 20-8 overall and 12-5 in conference, but it has picked a terrible time to run cold as it has lost three of its last four games, including an 83-79 defeat at Rider on Friday night. The Greyhounds are optimistic they can turn things around this afternoon, as they have been solid on the road this season, winning 10 of 16 games outside of Baltimore.
Manhattan has the same conference record as Loyola at 12-5 and though it also has the same number of wins overall (20), Manhattan has two more losses due to a more rigorous non-conference schedule. The Jaspers have won back-to-back games at home, where they are 9-3 this season, including an easy 90-77 triumph over Canisius on Friday.
Manhattan has a 31-21 advantage in the all-time series, although Loyola has won the last three meetings, including a 61-60 decision in Baltimore on January 5.
Loyola's calling card this season has been its stellar defense, which holds opponents to 64.5 ppg on 40.9 percent shooting from the field. The Greyhounds' defensive effort failed them against Rider the other night however, as the Broncs shot 49 percent from the field and converted 25-of-30 free throws, spoiling an impressive 79-point performance on offense. Loyola had five players score in double figures in the loss, led by Erik Etherly and Shane Walker with 14 points apiece. Balance has been the key for the Greyhounds this season as they have four players averaging double figures in scoring, led by Dylon Cormier (13.8 ppg). Etherly (13.3 ppg, 7.6 rpg), Robert Olson (11.6 ppg) and Justin Drummond (11.2 ppg) round out the bunch for Loyola, which ranks fifth in the MAAC in scoring at 67.8 ppg.
Manhattan had one of its most impressive scoring games of the year in Friday's win over Canisius, shooting 52.9 percent overall, draining 10 three-pointers along the way, and scoring 90 points for the second time this season. Greg Beamon put forth a monster effort with 28 points and 10 rebounds, and he has now scored in double figures in 44 straight games dating back to last season. The Jaspers are no strangers to high scoring outputs as they rank third in the MAAC in scoring offense at 71.1 ppg. Beamon averages 18.2 ppg, just a tenth of a point behind Iona's Mike Glover for the conference lead, and he also paces the team in rebounding (5.7 ppg). Though Beamon is the only Jasper to average double digits in points, four others net at least 7.7 ppg. Manhattan also plays stellar defense, ranking first in field goal percentage allowed (.399).
While bragging rights may be on the line, both teams are already locked into one of the top five seeds in the upcoming conference tournament, thus earning first-round byes. Manhattan has been playing better of late and has the home court advantage, so the edge goes to the Jaspers.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Manhattan 70, Loyola-Maryland 63
02/26 15:16:02 ET