Central Connecticut State (13-16) at Wagner (18-11)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, March 6, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Spiro Sports Center (2,100) -- Staten Island, New York. Television: None. Home Record: CCSU 6-6, Wagner 10-2. Away Record: CCSU 7-9, Wagner 7-9. Neutral Record: CCSU 0-1, Wagner 1-0. Conference Record: CCSU 9-9, Wagner 12-6. Series Record: Central Connecticut State leads, 18-17.
GAME NOTES: The 32nd annual Northeast Conference Tournament gets into full swing on Wednesday night with one of the four quarterfinals matchups featuring the Blue Devils of Central Connecticut State visiting the Wagner Seahawks at the Spiro Sports Center.
The seventh-seeded Blue Devils, winners of this event a total of three times, last took the floor over the weekend as they hosted Robert Morris, a meeting that resulted in a disappointing 81-61 setback for the hosts at Detrick Gym in New Britain. The defeat snapped what had been a three-game win streak for CCSU, pushing the team to 9-9 in league play as a result.
As for the second-seeded Seahawks, a squad which is 16-24 all-time in this tournament and has a 2003 title to show for its efforts, they closed out the regular season with five wins in six tries, the lone setback coming by a single point versus St. Francis (NY) on the road a few weeks ago.
The Blue Devils hold a slim 18-17 advantage in the all-time series between these two teams after they split their two regular-season meetings. The most recent battle took place on Valentine's Day with the Seahawks posting a 101-82 victory here at home.
The winner of the meeting this time around will advance to the semifinals of the tournament on Saturday, with the matchups to be determined based on the seedings of the teams that advance.
One of the top scorers in the nation this season, Kyle Vinales is a huge offensive threat for the Blue Devils considering he went from posting 21.6 ppg overall on the season with 22.1 ppg versus league foes. But not only is he a lethal scorer, he is also first on the unit with 111 assists which makes him difficult to cover defensively because you can never be sure his mode of attack. Matt Hunter (16.0 ppg) and Adonis Burbage (10.7 ppg) are also huge contributors at the offensive end of the floor for a program that is generating 73.7 ppg. Unfortunately, that quick pace also gave opponents more than enough opportunity to produce, en route to a hefty 77.2 ppg, while CCSU was also losing out to the competition on the glass by almost six rebounds per game.
He may not have the overwhelming scoring numbers that Vinales has for the Blue Devils, but Jonathon Williams is still a solid performer for Wagner with his 15.2 ppg and team-best 6.6 rpg as well. A 53.5 percent shooter from the floor, Williams knows that he is at his best when he remains close to the basket on offense and not on the perimeter where he made 11-of-32 shots beyond the arc. Latif Rivers checks in with 13.2 ppg and is the one who is more adept and connecting on long-range shots, hitting at 42.7 percent, but with only 38 conversions it is clear that he and the Seahawks do not put too much stock in perimeter shooting these days. Kenneth Ortiz not only chips in with 12.0 ppg, he is also first with 150 assists and 58 steals, putting forth a solid effort at both ends of the floor.
Perhaps any other team would relish the idea of being the second seed in this tournament, but Wagner is just 4-4 when in this position and only once before has the team ended up in the title game (1993), so hopefully the Seahawks are ready to change all that.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Wagner 85, Central Connecticut State 77
03/06 10:38:27 ET