Illinois State (18-15) at Siena (17-17)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, March 26, 7 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Times Union Center (7,079) -- Albany, New York. Television: None. CBI Record: Illinois St. 2-0, Siena 2-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The Illinois State Redbirds and Siena Saints will meet up at the Times Union Center on Wednesday evening, with a spot in the College Basketball Invitational championship series on the line.
The winner of this game will take on either Old Dominion or Fresno State in a best-of-three series next week to determine the tournament champion.
Dan Muller's Redbirds advanced to the semifinal round of this event by knocking off both Morehead State (77-67) and Texas A&M (62-55) in Normal. With the wins, ISU improved to 18-15 on the season. The team has had its problems however on the road, sporting a mere 3-10 mark in true road games this season.
Jimmy Patsos' Saints have also enjoyed the comforts of home in this tournament, besting both Stony Brook (66-55) and Penn State (54-52) to advance. Siena has now pulled even on the year at 17-17 and has really played well at home, with a 12-4 ledger in Albany.
This marks the first-ever meeting between these two teams on the hardwood.
Daishon Knight was the driving force for Illinois State in its big win over Texas A&M, as he just missed a double-double with 17 points and nine rebounds. John Jones joined Knight in double figures, tying his career-high with 12 points in the win. Although ISU shot just .436 from the floor overall, the team was able to take control in the second half, by converting 54.2 percent from the field, distancing itself from a 27-27 halftime score.
The Redbirds are still hanging around in the postseason despite rather modest numbers at both ends of the floor. The team holds a mere +0.2 scoring margin, averaging 68.9 ppg, while giving up nearly the same (68.7 ppg). Efficient scoring hasn't been a strength this season for Illinois State, as the team shoots just .410 from the floor, including .318 from behind the arc. Knight is the top scoring threat, although his 13.3 ppg is volume driven, considering he is shooting .373 from the floor. Zach Lofton and Bobby Hunter round out the top threats for ISU at 11.3 and 10.6 ppg, respectively. Center Reggie Lynch isn't much of a scorer (8.1 ppg), but his strength comes in blocking shots, with 91 on the year.
Evan Hymes didn't have a huge game by any stretch of the imagination, finishing with just five points, but his last two proved to be the difference as his layup with four seconds left, pushed the Saints past the Nittany Lions and into the semifinals. The Saints held a seven-point second-half lead before Penn State went on a 13-3 run to take control, but Siena never went away, setting up Hymes for the game-winner in the waning moments. Lavon Long led the Saints in scoring in the win, with 17 points. Rob Poole also finished in double digits, with 11.
Siena has posted similar numbers to Illinois State on the year, averaging 69.3 ppg, while allowing 70.6. Poole is the team's top offensive weapon, netting 14.7 ppg, although he does so on just .417 shooting. He has shot the ball well from long range however, hitting at a .366 clip and leading the Saints with 64 3-pointers. Brett Bisping has been much more efficient, converting 51.2 percent from the floor and posting 10.9 ppg. Some scoring depth comes in the form of Long (9.6 ppg) and Hymes (9.1 ppg).
These teams are very similar in terms of how they win games. Still, it's hard to ignore the huge advantage that Siena has at home, magnified by Illinois State's inability to win on the road.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Siena 63, Illinois State 60
03/26 10:36:11 ET