LIU Gameday Preview – Game 27 (NEC Game 16) – Wagner

Opponent: Wagner

Record: 9-17, 7-8 NEC (Last game: L vs Robert Morris, 66-65
KenPom Ranking: 304
Tip-Off Time: 4:30pm
Location: Steinberg Wellness Center – Brooklyn, NY
Media Game Coverage: Online: NEC Front Row; Audio: Red Zone Media
Meeting History: 99th all-time meeting. LIU Brooklyn leads the series 55-43. Wagner has won the last three games in the series and five out of the last six games. Wagner defeated LIU back on January 10th in Staten Island 87-82.

Projected Starting Lineups:

LIU Brooklyn: Elvar Friðriksson (G), Gerrell Martin (G), Martin Hermannsson (G), Joel Hernandez (G), Nura Zanna (F)

Wagner: Marcus Burton (G), Jo Jo Cooper (G), Corey Henson(G), Stedman Allen (F), Mike Aaman (F)

Opponent Preview:

Wagner has had an up and down season as you would expect for a young team to have. The Seahawks enter this game at 7-8 in the NEC and have locked down a spot in the upcoming NEC tournament. They are currently in seventh place but are about to start a very tough three-game road trip with this game to close their regular season.

Wagner has lost four of their last five games coming in and their only win came against FDU in overtime last Saturday at home.

Senior guard Marcus Burton is still Wagner’s leading scorer but he is now also the NEC’s leading scorer at 18.5 points per game. Burton is having an All-NEC type season. He has scored in double figures in all but four games the entire season. Burton is coming in shooting nearly 41% from the field and 33% from three. Burton is scoring over 21 points per game in conference play. He is coming off a 14-point game on Thursday against Bryant.

Rhode Island transfer Mike Aaman has returned to the Wagner lineup after sitting out nine games including the first eight NEC games of the season after taking a blow to the head in a game versus Cincinnati back on December 23rd. Aaman has a long history of concussions. Upon his return, he has been slowly regaining his form and has been playing at high level of late. Over the last two games, Aaman has had two monster double-doubles. Last Saturday, he had 20 points and 23 rebounds in a win versus FDU and on Thursday, he finished with 22 points and 15 rebounds in a loss to Bryant. Since his return, he has scored over 11 points four times and has grabbed at least 11 rebounds four times as well. He is currently second on the team in scoring at 10 ppg.

After the two upperclassmen, three freshmen are next on the scoring list for Wagner with guard Corey Henson (9.2 ppg), Romone Saunders (8.4 ppg/4.0 apg) and JoJo Cooper (7.2 ppg/3.2 apg). Henson has the best field goal percentage of the three at nearly 42%. Saunders has the better assist numbers as well as three-point field goal percentage at 34.5%. Saunders scored 17 points against LIU in the first meeting this season, right behind Burton’s 18 points.

It was recently announced by Wagner head coach Bashir Mason that Junior guard Dwaun Anderson will not return for the Seahawks this season. Anderson only appeared in one game for Wagner this season, playing six minutes against Mount St. Mary’s on January 5th before experiencing pain in his foot once again and now they have decided to shut him down for this season and apply for a medical redshirt to get back another year of eligibility for him.

Wagner is third in the NEC in scoring at 69.3 points per game. They score 0.97 points per possession which is currently sixth in the NEC. As a team, they shoot the ball just over 40% and make 31% of their threes. Defensively, Wagner is dead last in the NEC in scoring defense at 73.2 points per game. They allow 1.06 points per possession which is tied for last in the NEC. Opponents hit on 47% of their shots and nearly 36% of their threes.

LIU Spotlight:

LIU is currently sitting on the fifth-seed for the NEC tournament coming into this game. At this point, with three games remaining, LIU best hopes is to try and get either a three (difficult) or four seed (more likely) so they can get a home game in the NEC Tournament Quarterfinals.

The Blackbirds play their next two games at home starting with this game against Wagner and then Thursday against St. Francis Brooklyn who likely will have clinched the one-seed for the NEC tournament and will have little to play for next week expect to get themselves rested and ready for the NEC’s. LIU’s final game is on the road against surging Sacred Heart.

LIU fans pretty much need to now start rooting for Bryant against Robert Morris on Saturday and concede the two-seed to them since LIU doesn’t have the tiebreaker against Bryant anyway but they do against RMU. With the loss to Mount St. Mary’s on Thursday, it is going to be pretty hard for LIU to get by the Mount now which leaves LIU realistically chasing the four-seed and that final quarterfinal home game spot.

As long as LIU is tied with RMU and SFU, they are in a good spot since they own the tiebreaker with both teams. LIU will be playing the two teams trying to chase them down in Wagner and Sacred Heart so LIU really has to take of business against them and try to get an upset against St. Francis Brooklyn at home and hope the Terriers won’t be as motivated with them likely having wrapped everything they needed up. We’ll shall see come end of Saturday.

LIU’s Keys to the Game:

Watch for Burton and Aaman: If Wagner is going to win this game, they are going to lean heavily on Burton and Aaman to get them points and rebounds. LIU need to limit their damage. They have to watch Burton from deep and Aaman grabbing all the boards and giving Wagner second chance opportunities.

– Play winning basketball: LIU is got to do a lot of the little things to get this all-important win. They need to take care of the ball (too many turnovers [17] vs Mount on Thursday) and crash the offensive boards (only 10 vs Mount) and get back to playing good defense (has allowed over 1.0 ppp on defense in last two games).

– Get the home crowd fired up: Fans coming to the game are going to need to bring their voices and their energy. This is a big one for LIU. They’re going to need the fan support and LIU will need to give them things to go crazy for.

KenPom Game Prediction: LIU Brooklyn, 75-69. LIU win probability: 74%.

Next Up: 

LIU Brooklyn plays their final regular season home game and it will be senior night as LIU will honor seniors Gerrell Martin, Landon Atterberry and Chris Carter before the game against the top-seeded St. Francis Brooklyn Terriers on Thursday, February 26th. The game will also air on MSG Network and FOX College Sports. Game time is scheduled for 7:00pm.

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