By Nick Veronica
The teams: Canisius: 14-7, 8-2 MAAC, 4-6 road. RPI: 96. Streak: Won two and five of six.
Quinnipiac Bobcats: 12-7, 7-3 MAAC, 8-1 home. RPI: 93. Streak: Won one (vs. Manhattan) and three of four.
Previous game: Canisius beat Marist 78-65 Sunday afternoon while Billy Baron dropped 38 points.
Quinnipiac beat MAAC favorite Manhattan in overtime on Sunday, 90-86, to sweep the season series.
About Quinnipiac: The Bobcats hit the boards and they hit them hard. Quinnipiac leads the country in rebounding at 47.1 per game and has three players (Ike Azotam, Ousmane Drame and Zaid Hearst) that average more rebounds per game than Canisius’ top rebounder, Chris Manhertz. Azotam (6-foot-7, 239 pounds) ranks third nationally with 11.7 rpg, Drame (6-9, 225) is 21st with 9.8 rpg and Zaid Hearst pulls in 7.7 rpg. (Manhertz averages 6.3 and Jordan Heath averages 5.4.)
But the Bobcats can also score. Azotam, Drame, Hearst and guard Umar Shannon all score well over 10 points per game, helping Quinnipiac to a 77.9 ppg average, more than 3 ppg better than Canisius. Quinnipiac lost in the quarterfinals of the NEC tournament last season to eventual conference champion LIU-Brooklyn and is in its first year in the MAAC. The team is coached by Tom Moore.
Recent history: These teams have never played before. Jim Baron was 2-1 against Quinnipiac at Rhode Island. The schools met last year in the NCAA hockey tournament.
National scoring list: Scoring 24.2 ppg, Billy Baron is ranks third nationally behind Niagara’s Antoine Mason (27.4) and Creighton’s Doug McDermott (25.0). Baron would need to score 43 points to jump McDermott tonight.
Wild card: Ousmane Drame. He missed the Manhattan game last weekend with a sprained knee (and they still won). He was supposed to be reevaluated this week but I haven’t heard anything yet. You can search for his status on Twitter, but as of Wednesday night there’s no news.
The takeaway: Canisius and Quinnipiac are two of the hottest teams in the conference right now. The Griffs are ranked in the latest mid-major poll and Quinnipiac is getting votes. This game will be a battle and Canisius’ bigs can’t afford to get into foul trouble. If Manhertz or Heath have to sit for an extended period of time it could get ugly fast. Baron has been on fire lately (averaging 30.5 ppg since Jan. 10 and shooting 56.6%) but will certainly need some help tonight.
Check out this Twitter list for chatter during the game. I don’t think there’s any (free) video, but if there is let me know.Follow @nickveronica