Sizzling In The Spotlight: Bennett & Wesner's College Basketball Picks For December 4
Photo courtesy of oracleherald.com.

Sizzling In The Spotlight: Bennett & Wesner's College Basketball Picks For December 4

It's about to go down! Justin Robinson's Monmouth Hawks travel to Buffalo, New York, to go head-to-head and wing-to-wing is with the Canisius Golden Griffins.

peyton-wesner
Peyton Wesner

Which celebrations will we see tonight? "The Hawk?" Perhaps "The Pirate Ship?" For "Sizzling in the Spotlight's" special Friday night edition, Tyler Bennett and Peyton Wesner preview and predict all five MAAC conference bouts in addition to the Steel City rivalry and a showdown in Sin City.

7:00 PM EST
4-2 Monmouth @ 2-3 Canisius (ESPN3)
***MAAC Spotlight Game

Monmouth
Coming In:
---83-73 Win - USC
Resumé Victories:
---84-81 @ UCLA
---70-68 - 17. Notre Dame
---83-73 - USC
Player to Watch:
#12 Justin Robinson
(JR)
---24.8 PPG, 2.8 RPG, & 3.2 APG.

Canisius
Coming In:
---98-96 Loss @ Buffalo
Single-Digit Losses:
---77-73 - St. Bonaventure
---98-96 @ Buffalo
Player to Watch:
#1 Malcolm McMillan
(SR)
---23.6 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 3.8 APG, & 3.0 SPG.

Bennett:
There will be no shortage of points in this contest, as both Monmouth and Canisius know how to put the ball in the basket on a frequent basis. The Hawks captivated the entire basketball world with their play in the Advocare Invitational, knocking off Notre Dame and USC, while almost taking down Dayton. Justin Robinson and Micah Seaborn have the Hawks flying high, but don’t count out Canisius. Malcolm McMillan is putting up big numbers in his first season with the Golden Griffins, averaging over 23 points per game. The play of McMillan, Phil Valenti, and Jamal Reynolds will carry Canisius to a win in their MAAC opener.
---Canisius 84, Monmouth 80

Wesner:
Get ready Buffalo, New York, Justin Robinson is coming to play! The Monmouth Hawks, who have soared to a team that deserves an at-large bid thanks to their time in "City Beautiful," have become a household name in the blink of an eye on the shoulders of the aforementioned 2014-2015 All-MAAC first teamer Justin Robinson (not to be mistaken with his brother Tyler). Malcolm McMillan's Canisius Golden Griffins will try to pull them back to reality. Although Canisius' record is currently 2-3, the Golden Griffins have the talent of a conference front-runner. Surrounding the Central Connecticut State transfer McMillian (who has been a star thus far), is four double-digit scorers, including "stud sophomore" Jermaine Crumpton and "jazzy junior" Phil Valenti. With that much offensive firepower does King Rice's team even stand a chance? Of course! With Justin Robinson all things on the basketball court are possible! Add in high school teammates "fab freshman" Micah Seaborn and Je'lon Hornbeak and the Hawks have people who can put the "biscuit in the basket." Yet big man Chris Brady will be the deciding factor for Monmouth this evening as he will have to  play big minutes in the paint against Kevin Bleeker and Valenti. Despite the Golden Griffins being favorites, this journalist will continue to fly with the talented Justin Robinson in a single-possession game.
---Monmouth 77, Canisius 76

4-1 Pittsburgh - 6-1 Duquesne (CBS Sports Network)

Pittsburgh
Coming In:
---72-59 Loss - #11 Purdue
Player to Watch:
#2 Michael Young
(JR)
---17.6 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 4.4 APG, & 1.0 BPG.

Duquesne
Coming In:
---91-77 Win - Mississippi Valley State
Power Conference Victories: 
---78-52 - Penn State
Players to Watch:
#1 Derrick Colter
(SR)
---19.9 PPG, 2.3 RPG, & 3.3 APG.
#22 Micah Mason (SR)
---16.9 PPG, 4.0 RPG, & 5.4 APG.

Bennett:
The Pittsburgh Panthers and Duquesne Dukes have put the city of Pittsburgh back on the map in terms of high quality basketball this season. Both enter Friday night’s tilt with just 1 loss on their resume this season, and enter the CONSOL Energy Center playing some strong ball. Yet, tonight give the slight edge to the Panthers, and not because they are the power conference team. The duo of Michael Young and Jamel Artis will be too much to handle for Duquesne, and the Panthers will take home the win in the Steel City Game.
---Pittsburgh 81, Duquesne 73

Wesner:
If Duquesne takes down the Pittsburgh Panthers, then the Steel City may burn down! Fortunately for those who live in the western Pennsylvania city, the Dukes will not come away with the W. As good as the guard duo of Duquesne is, Jaime Dixon's squad also has a great tandem, but in the frontcourt, in Michael Young and Jamel Artis. Last time this journalist checked, guards have trouble scoring the ball when their opponent has an anchor in the middle. Pitt has not one but two! While Darius Lewis has the experience and 6'11" frame to be a load in the paint for the Dukes, Young and Artis will combine for 40+ points in addition to the Panthers' James Robinson having a good game.
---Pittsburgh 78, Duquesne 72

1-6 (0-1) Rider @ 3-4 (0-1) Fairfield

Rider
Coming In:
---73-61 Loss - Saint Peter's
Only Win:
---67-56 - Houston Baptist
Single-Digit Losses:
---64-56 - Princeton
---65-58 @ Maryland
---57-52 - Cleveland State
Player to Watch:
#11 Xavier Lundy
(JR)
---9.6 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 4.4 APG, & 3.3 SPG.

Fairfield
Coming In:
---101-70 Loss @ Iona
Quality Victories:
---82-81 - Columbia
Player to Watch:
#3 Tyler Nelson
(SO)
---12.0 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 4.3 APG, & 1.0 SPG.

Bennett:
Both Rider and Fairfield have struggled to open the 2015-16 season, and found themselves on the wrong end of their MAAC openers earlier in the week. With that said, someone has to win on Friday night, and the win will give themselves a shot in the arm that they desperately need. Teddy Okereafor has been quiet this season for the Broncs, averaging just 8.4 points per contest. As a team, no player is averaging over 9.6 points per contest for Rider! Regardless, they will find a way to get it done on the road at Fairfield.
---Rider 70, Fairfield 64

Wesner:
Ring a ding ding, who wants their first conference win of the season. After falling by double-digit points in their conference openers (granted, Fairfield's defeat was a little more painful thanks to A.J. English), Rider and Fairfield will look to get back on the right track tonight. Though, the home team may have a lot of trouble without Marcus Gilbert. Gilbert, who left New Rochelle, New York, in a walking boot, is not expected to be able to go tonight versus the Broncs. However, even without Gilbert suiting up, the Stags still have the highest scorer in Tyler Nelson. Look for Fairfield to rally around their injured superstar's presence courtside in a "Win it for Marcus" team performance.
---Fairfield 64, Rider 60

2-2 (1-0) Iona @ 1-3 Marist

Iona
Coming In:
---101-77 Win - Fairfield
Player to Watch:
#5 A.J. English
(SR)
---25.8 PPG, 3.5 RPG, & 6.5 APG.

Marist
Coming In:
---86-60 Loss @ Vermont
Only Win:
---73-63 - Dartmouth 
Player to Watch:
#5 Khallid Hart
(JR)
---22.5 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 1.8 APG, & 1.0 SPG.

Bennett:
In their MAAC opener against Fairfield, the Gaels got a massive performance from A.J. English, to the tune of 46 points and a career-best 13 made three-pointers. However, Schadrac Casimir was held without a point in the game, which is a slight cause for concern. The Gaels cannot rely on English to carry them to victory on any given night. Others must step up to help carry the load on offense. On Friday, the Gaels will have a strong performance from the entire team, and roll over Marist.
---Iona 90, Marist 72

Wesner:
43 points on 13 triples. Let that sink in for a moment. 43 points on 12 three pointers! In a career performance to put the Gaels back on the map, Iona's A.J. English turned into a badder man than he already is with the previously stated statline. Nevertheless, there is no way he will be able to top such a terrific game on Friday. Please don't get this journalist wrong, he thinks English is one of the best, not just in mid-major terms but the whole nation! But, to post another 40+ point performance will be nearly impossible since Marist has game-planned their defense for him. Yes, Iona will win, but no, don't expect the "star senior" to have more than 30.
---Iona 93, Marist 78

1-3 Manhattan @ 4-3 Siena

Manhattan
Coming In:
---87-64 Loss @ Fordham
Only Win:
---69-67 - George Mason
Players to Watch:
#23 Rich Williams
(JR)
---18.8 PPG, 7.0 RPG, & 1.3 BPG.
#0 Shane Richards (SR)
---18.3 PPG, 3.0 RPG, & 1.5 SPG.

Siena
Coming In:
---81-80 Loss @ Cornell
Quality Victories:
---76-62 - Radford
---83-81 - Bucknell
Player to Watch:
#1 Marquis Wright (JR)
---18.1 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 4.3 APG, & 2.3 SPG.

A healthy Imoh Silas and Brett Bisping have done wonders for the Siena Saints when comparing last year’s team to that of the 2015-16 season. The Saints reeled off four straight wins before losing a heartbreaker to Cornell in their last time out. Despite the loss, the Saints sit at 4-3 on the season, and look like a front-runner in the MAAC. The return of Javion Ogunyemi has elevated the front court, and the Saints will roll past Manhattan on their home floor.
---Siena 80, Manhattan 70

Wesner:
Even with Shane Richards continuing to play like the grown man he is, the Manhattan Jaspers are not the same team without Emmy Andujar and Ashton Pankey (combined for 29.7 points and 14.3 rebounds per game as seniors). Against a very rounded out Siena Saints team, Steve Masiello will again feel the holes in his team. Siena, who were just a few minutes away from riding into today's conference opener on a five game winning streak, has one of the best scorers in the conference, Marquis Wright, to go along with double-double machine Brett Bisping and Javion Ogunyemi. Even though Rich Williams and Shane Richards will combine for half of Manhattan's points (35), the Saints will march to 1-0 in the MAAC.
---Siena 76, Manhattan 70

2-3 Quinnipiac @ 2-5 Niagara

Quinnipiac
Coming In:
---58-54 Loss - Albany
Player to Watch:
#4 Giovanni McLean (SR)
---13.5 PPG, 4.5 RPG, & 3.0 APG.

Niagara
Coming In:
---88-70 Loss - Youngstown State
Player to Watch:
#13 Matt Scott (SO)
---17.0 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 4.0 APG, & 1.7 SPG.

Bennett:
Over the past few seasons, the Quinnipiac Bobcats have been one of the nation’s top rebounding teams. But with the departure of Ousmane Drame from last year’s roster, they lack that elite rebounder that has allowed them to be successful. With that the case, they have a pair of players who are developing into impact players in terms of scoring and rebounding (Daniel Harris and Chaise Daniels). Niagara will give them a test on Friday night, but the Bobcats will come away with the victory.
---Quinnipiac 76, Niagara 74

Wesner:
Matt Scott: Learn the name America. Scott, a "stud sophomore" on Niagara, has come out of no where this season to be the leading scorer for the Purple Eagles following a freshman campaign in which he posted only 5.0 points per game. The 6'4" guard is an accurate three-point shooter (enters today shooting 32.0% from beyond the arc), that can also pull up for a duece. Additionally, he rebounds the basketball with great skill for a guard! But will he be enough to take down Quinnipiac's three-headed monster of Giovanni McLean, Daniel Harris, and Chaise Daniels. By himself, no way! But, he doesn't have to, for Emile Blackman and Justin Satchell will be by his side for all forty minutes this evening. To make this simple, whichever team's trio scores the most wins. On this night it shall be Niagara.
---Niagara 73, Quinnipiac 71

11:00 PM EST
6-0 Oregon @ 6-1 UNLV (ESPN2)
***Spotlight Game

Oregon
Coming In:

---78-73 Win - Fresno State
Resumé Victories:
---74-67 - 20. Baylor
---73-67 - Valparaiso
Player to Watch:
#5 Tyler Dorsey (FR)
---14.7 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 3.0 APG, & 1.2 SPG.

UNLV
Coming In:
---80-62 Win - Prairie View A&M
Resumé Victories:
---72-69 - 13. Indiana
Only Loss:
---77-75 - UCLA
Player to Watch:
#22 Patrick McCaw (SO)
---19.0 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 4.4 APG, & 3.3 SPG.

Bennett:
This contest is being played on a “neutral” court, but that term shouldn’t apply to this game, as it’s still being played in Las Vegas. It’ll essentially be a home game for the Rebels, and they will look to make a statement with a big win over Oregon. They have the talent to do so, as Stephen Zimmerman will cause problems for Oregon on both ends of the floor. But, Oregon’s duo of Tyler Dorsey and Dillon Brooks are two dynamic scorers, and will lead the Ducks to the narrow victory.
---Oregon 86, UNLV 83

Wesner:
78.8 points scored per game to 77 and 64.3 points allowed per game to 68.8. Can Oregon and UNLV be any more evenly matched? Wait! They can? UNLV and Oregon both have six wins and five scorers averaging over 8.2 points per. Aside from all the experienced talent on the floor, the deciding factor in this one will be freshman Stephen Zimmerman. Zimmerman, who is nearly averaging a double-double thus far, is likely to be matched-up against the Ducks' 6'10" Chris Boucher, who is an absolute load inside. Additionally, the Running Rebels' Patrick McCaw taking on Oregon's Dillon Brooks is must see TV, for they are great, yet very different players. But who wins? Hmm, tough question! Uh, how about UNLV. Although the answer is not too convincing, UNLV is basically playing a home game (no, it is not at the Thomas & Mack Center but the MGM Garden Arena is still in Las Vegas), which shall benefit them for one big reason: Home-court advantage. With talanted youth on both sides, a familiar crowd for the Running Rebels' freshman/sophomore duo (Zimmerman and McCaw) will keep them from becoming rattled for long periods of time. Sorry Oregon, but your undefeated run will end tonight.
---UNLV 77, Oregon 72

Standings:
1. Bennett 135 pts (108-55)
2. Wesner 133 pts (106-57)

***Spotlight Games are worth two points in opposed to one.

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