Manhattan (21-12) at Fairfield (20-14)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Sunday, March 18, 4:00 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Alumni Hall (2,479) -- Fairfield, Connecticut. Television: None. CIT Record: Manhattan 1-0, Fairfield 2-1. Series Record: Manhattan leads, 45-41.
GAME NOTES: Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference rivals collide in the second round of the 2012 CollegeInsider.com Tournament this afternoon, as the Fairfield Stags play host to the Manhattan Jaspers.
Though Fairfield missed out on going to the NCAA Tournament by losing the MAAC Tournament title game to Loyola-Maryland, it was able to take down Yale in the first round of the CIT, 68-56. The win for the Stags was their 20th of the season, marking the first time that they have ever won 20 games in three consecutive years.
After winning its first-ever CIT game in an 89-79 final versus Albany in the first round, the Jaspers moved their overall record to 21-12, their best mark since winning 25 games during the 2003-04 campaign. It's just the 11th 20-win season in the 106-year history of the program, and the Jaspers have now won a remarkable 15 more games than they did a year ago when they went a dismal 6-25 and finished in last place in the MAAC.
Being members of the same conference, these teams are very familiar with each another. Manhattan has an advantage in the all-time series, 45-41, which includes a season split this year -- each winning on its home floor.
After being down 13 points to Yale at the half in their first-round game, Fairfield put together a dominating second half to come away with the 12-point victory. The Stags were stellar at both ends of the floor, shooting 53.1 percent from the field while holding Yale to 36.4 percent, which included a 17-point second half. Colin Nickerson, who averages just 4.3 ppg, picked a great time to post his career-high, shooting 9-of-14 from the floor for 22 points, while also adding six rebounds and five steals. Rakim Sanders continued his outstanding play, posting his 10th double-double of the season with 21 points and 11 rebounds. Sanders is the team's best player and was one of the top producers in the MAAC this season, tallying 16.9 ppg on 50.1 percent shooting from the field to go along with 8.4 rpg, 2.3 apg and 1.4 spg. Derek Needham has also been a solid contributor for the Stags, chipping in 11.8 ppg on 38.9 percent three-point shooting. As displayed against Yale, Fairfield had the top-ranked defense in the conference this season, allowing just 61.2 ppg.
Manhattan put on a shooting clinic in its first-round matchup with Albany, shooting an incredible 62.5 percent from the field while scoring 80 points or more for the 10th time this season. The Jaspers had four players reach double figures, but the standout performer was George Beamon, who shot 13-of-19 for a season-high 34 points, while also recording 10 rebounds, five assists and three steals. Beamon is no stranger to putting up big-time point totals, as he now averages 19.1 ppg -- tops in the MAAC. While no other Jasper averages double digits in scoring, the team as a whole possesses plenty of balance as seven players average between 5.2 and 8.5 ppg. Manhattan also plays stellar defense, as it led the MAAC in field goal percentage defense (.405), three- point percentage defense (.333) and blocks (4.9 bpg). Rhamel Brown was became the first Jasper to ever be named the MAAC Defensive Player of the Year after setting a school record for blocked shots with 82.
As this in not only a postseason bout but a rivalry game, the intensity is sure to be extra high. Manhattan has the better offensive attack, but Fairfield has taken care of the Jaspers at home once already this year and should be able to do so again.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Fairfield 67, Manhattan 64
03/18 11:13:29 ET