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Big night for several local teams
Tonight is a big night for several of the NYC Metro-area college basketball teams looking to validate their strong starts or just looking get back on track.
Stony Brook (8-3) @ Seton Hall (10-2) 7:00 p.m.: Stony Brook is beginning to really find its groove. With a solid frontcourt led by Jameel Warney, Tommy Brenton and Eric McAlister, the Seawolves have proven the can play with anyone, including major conference foes. Close losses at UConn (73-62) and Maryland (75-69) are proof of that…Seton Hall, winners of five straight, is off to a great start. Unfortunately, only one of those wins was against a major-conference program (Wake Forest). The two losses were against Washington and LSU. The Pirates need to win this one going away to prove that their gaudy record isn’t fraudulent.
Iona (6-5) @ St. Joseph’s (5-4) 7:00 p.m.: The Gaels’ up and down season is at a crossroads. After tonight’s game at St. Joseph’s, Iona plays at St. Bonaventure on Monday. Tim Cluess’ squad, which has won two of its last three, could gain some serious momentum if it can get wins in both games. Iona had a rough opening in December with consecutive losses to St. Peter’s and Rutgers…St. Joseph’s appeared to be on its way to a great season with season-opening wins against Yale and at Notre Dame. The Hawks started the season 4-1. But a 29-point loss at Creighton and consecutive losses against Villanova and Fairfield as St. Joe’s on thin ice. This is a must-win for the Hawks.
Rider (6-6) @ Rutgers (8-2) 3:00 p.m.: Rider started to gain some momentum after winning four of five games late November into early December. Since a 62-56 win at Siena on December 7 it’s been all downhill for the Broncs, who lost consecutive games to Fairfield and at Princeton…Rutgers has won four straight. But are those wins (over Iona, George Washington, UAB, Howard) for real or a mirage? This is a game Rutgers needs to win in a big way to validate the strong start. The Scarlet Knights next game after tonight is a tilt at Syracuse on January 2.
NJIT (6-5) @Villanova (8-4) 7:00 p.m.: NJIT involved in an important game? Believe it. The Highlanders got off to a 4-2 start and were gaining momentum until consecutive losses to St. John’s (57-49) and Seton Hall (68-59) set them back a bit. But they’ve won two of three since to get back over .500…It’s hard to believe that Villanova was 4-4 at one point and looking terrible. Jay Wright’s crew has recovered with four straight wins. Among those triumphs was a big home win over St. Joseph’s. Another win will get the Wildcats back into the good graces of its fan base.