Pregame Shootaround: NEC showdown headlines light Friday slate

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: St. Francis-Brooklyn at Robert Morris, 9:00 p.m. (ESPNU)

There are only seven games on the schedule Friday night, and this matchup in Moon Township is the one of greatest importance. Both the Terriers, who were the preseason pick to win the NEC, and Colonials enter with 3-1 conference records and the winner will keep pace with Bryant (4-1) and Saint Francis (PA) (3-1) in the loss column. Seniors Jalen Cannon and Brent Jones are combining to average just over 28 points per game for St. Francis-Brooklyn, but the Terriers aren’t a team that has shot the ball particularly well (40.7% FG, 29.6% 3PT).

Will that change against Robert Morris, whose opponents are averaging 70.6 points per game while shooting 43.3% from the field? That will have to be the case for the Terriers if they’re to win at Robert Morris, which boasts three players averaging at least 13.0 ppg led by freshman guard Marcquise Reed (13.6 ppg).

THE REST OF FRIDAY’S ACTION

  • MAAC leader Iona should take care of Niagara (7:00 p.m., ESPNU) in the first game of their two-game swing through western New York, especially with an offense that’s scoring nearly 84 points per game. Junior guard A.J. English (20.8 ppg) leads the way for a team with four of the MAAC’s top ten scorers.
  • Siena and Canisius enter tonight’s game in Buffalo with matching 3-3 conference records, with the Saints also having to navigate a lack of depth thanks to health issues. The Saints are averaging 72.7 points per game, but they’re also allowing 75.7. That could be an issue against the Golden Griffins.
  • Manhattan’s just a game out of first in the MAAC ahead of their game at Saint Peter’s (7:00 p.m., ESPN3), and two of the conference’s better forwards will be on display in Manhattan’s Emmy Andujar and SPC’s Marvin Dominique. Neither team is a high-scoring outfit, and the Peacocks will need to take care of the basketball against a team that’s forcing more than 17 turnovers per game.
  • The fourth and final MAAC game matches a struggling Marist (1-15 overall, 0-6 MAAC) squad and Fairfield (7:00 p.m., ESPN3), with the Stags having lost six of their last seven. Fairfield, which is 3-3 in league play, is led by talented forward Marcus Gilbert (15.1 ppg, 4.8 rpg).
  • St. Francis-Brooklyn/Robert Morris isn’t the only NEC game on the slate, with Sacred Heart visiting 3-1 Saint Francis (PA) (NEC FrontRow). The Red Flash haven’t started NEC play with a 4-1 record since the 1997-98 season, and senior forward Earl Brown (15.0 ppg, 6.9 rpg) leads the way for a team that has four players averaging between 7.9 and 15.0 points per game.
  • North Dakota State looks to move to 4-1 in Summit League play as they host Western Illinois. The visiting Leathernecks are shooting just 39.2% from the field this season, and they’re looking to snap a three-game losing streak against a team that is 8-0 at home this season.