Wednesday, November 25, 2009

GAMEDAY: Northeastern University vs. Boston University

Four-year program versus five-year program. Current America East member versus former America East member. A school that dropped football against, well, Northeastern fans don't want to talk about it.

Don't let oblate spheroids -- or rubber cylinders, for that matter -- distract from that matter. With the gridiron a mere memory for both schools and both hockey teams cooling off after last season's successes, roundball is where it's at for Boston University and Northeastern University. At stake is more than just bragging rights among rivals. The two best mid-major programs in Boston are set to hit the court, and their respective styles could not be more different.

The Terriers like to run, a fact becoming increasingly well-known among the denizens of Commonwealth Avenue. The Huskies, however, would much prefer to see a stop sign erected at midcourt, complete with a police officer ready to ticket fast-paced offenders. There is slow, and then there is Northeastern slow.

Even former BU head coach Dennis Wolff's biggest critics, with their disdain for his offensive philosophy, would be hard-pressed to remember the last time the Terriers played a game at a snail-like 51-possession pace (the answer: Jan. 15, 2006, a 48-47 loss to Binghamton at home). For Northeastern fans, the memory is much more recent: a 58-57 win against George Mason on Jan. 21 of this year. Lest one consider that game an outlier, it was sandwiched by a 53-possession loss at Hofstra and a 55-possession win at Old Dominion.

Pace is up nationwide this year, and the Huskies have felt the effect early on, but the Huskies' opponent adjusted tempo ranks 322nd of 347 Division-I teams. Northeastern thrives in the halfcourt, where preseason All-CAA honorees Matt Janning and Manny Adako work their magic.

BU did a nice job setting a faster pace -- 67 possessions --  and out-shooting the Huskies in last year's 83-75 win at Matthews Arena. Shots haven't been falling for the Terriers so far this season, though, and up-tempo play can only tilt the playing field so far. Sooner or later, BU needs its shooting percentage to rise; today would be as good a day as ever.

Don't forget to stick around for the live blog of today's game.

Expected starting lineups:
Boston University
G Tyler Morris, 13.2 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 2.0 APG
G Corey Lowe, 13.2 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 3.8 APG
G Carlos Strong, 8.0 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.8 APG
F Valdas Sirutis, 1.8 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 0.8 APG
F Jake O'Brien, 9.2 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 1.4 BPG

Northeastern University
G Baptiste Bataille, 10.5 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 1.0 APG
G Chaisson Allen, 11.0 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 2.0 APG
G Matt Janning, 14.0 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 2.0 APG
F Manny Adako, 7.5 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 2.0 SPG
F Njem Ojougboh, 11.0 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 1.0 BPG

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