Coming off a 58-50 loss in a close game to the talented Rider University Broncs, Binghamton University men’s basketball team (2-5) will look to redeem itself in its next two games. In a three-day span, the Bearcats will be hosting the Bucknell University Bison of the Patriot League and Marshall University Thundering Herd of Conference USA in front of an always-supportive Events Center crowd.
First, the Bucknell Bison (4-4) will make its way up Route 81 from Lewisburg, Penn. to take on the Bearcats. The game, which will be played tonight at 7 p.m. in the Events Center, will be a rematch of last year’s thrilling 63-60 victory for the Bison. That game turned out to be one of the Bearcats’ few losses and one of Bucknell’s few wins from last season, as the Bison would finish the year with an overall record of 7-23.
Just one year removed from the dreadful season, the Bison appear to be reloaded and primed for more success as they have won half of their eight contests thus far. The team is coming off a tough, high-scoring 104-98 overtime loss to a competitive Cornell University Big Red squad. The Bison also played Big East opponent Providence College close, going into halftime with a two-point lead, though they would eventually fall 76-65 to the Friars.
A win tomorrow would be the Bearcats’ first victory over a Division I opponent this season. To emerge victorious, Binghamton will need to slow Bucknell’s talented backcourt duo of junior Darryl Shazier and sophomore Bryan Cohen, as well as senior big man Patrick Behan. All three average over 10 points per game for the well-balanced Bison. The Bearcats will also have to beware of talented 6-foot-10-inch freshman big man Mike Muscala, who is averaging an impressive 1.8 blocks per game this season while seeing a mere 17.8 minutes of action per contest.
The Marshall Thundering Herd (5-1) will face the Bearcats this Monday at 7 p.m. in the Events Center. The program, which is best known for being New York Knicks head coach Mike D’Antoni’s alma mater, is not traditionally a basketball powerhouse. However, the Thundering Herd has been stampeding through their schedule early on this season. They are coming off a game in which they annihilated their Division II West Virginia neighbor Salem International University 119-35. The Bearcats’ only two wins of the season have come against Division II opponents, though the victories were not nearly as convincing as Marshall’s astounding 84-point differential against SIU.
Like Bucknell, Marshall features a very balanced squad. Its top four scorers average between 10 and 12 points per game. The team also features seven players who play between 20 and 30 minutes per game. The Thundering Herd are led by 6-foot-8-inch senior forward Tyler Wilkerson, who averages 11.8 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2 blocks per game. Talented 6-foot-10-inch freshman forward Hassan Whiteside has gotten his college basketball career at Marshall off on the right foot, averaging an otherworldly 4.6 blocks per game. That number is good for second in the nation in blocked shots this season, just behind Jarvis Varnado of Mississippi State, who is averaging 5.5 blocks per game and is on track to become the all-time leading shot blocker in Division I basketball history.
The Thundering Herd also share ball distribution duties among a backcourt trio made up of sophomores Shaquille Johnson and Damier Pitts, as well as senior Darryl Merthie. All three players average between 3.6 and 3.8 assists per contest.
The Bearcats have split their last two contests. Before losing to Rider, Binghamton defeated Division II opponent University of Arkansas at Monticello 66-56. Binghamton will look to rebound in these next two games.
As usual, tickets to the Events Center will be free to Binghamton University students, all of whom are encouraged to go to the game and support the team. Tomorrow’s game against the Bucknell Bison will also be televised on Time Warner Cable Sports.