The inaugural day of the challenge is upon us!
Some brief synopsis on the matchups in slot 7.
# 10 Thomas More (6-0) -20 at Sewanee (2-4)- A mismatch perhaps when you look at the rankings. Bigrum's Saints have won 6 straight on the road to open the year, including an impressive victory over Texas, Dallas. Meanwhile amuns Tigers has suffered 4 straight losses, the last 3 all to top 13 opponents. What is more reflective? Thomas More's impressive record or Sewanee's ability to compete against a brutal schedule?
Key matchup- Gary Clower vs Antonie Remaley. Two highly athletic big men who are their respective teams best low post threat. Clower, along with Barry Scott, form a dynamic duo for Sewanee. But if Remaley, also a master defender, can shut the senior center down, Sewanee will become far easier to guard.
#17 Millsaps (5-1) at Manchester #26 (5-1) EVEN- One of the more intriguing match-ups on paper (not just bias!). Two traditionally strong programs off to good starts. Mattster's Spartans have mainly cruised through their early schedule, picking up a win over traditionally good Dominican. A confusing loss to Amherst is on the books as well. Meanwhile erickson's Majors picked up a solid win over Capital, helping erase a bit of the memory of an ugly collapse against Chicago.
Key matchup- Mark Frazier vs Robert Raymer. I could have easily gone with the obvious Claude Ball vs Clarence Eads, two of the best PF's in the country, but I chose the battle of point guards instead. Raymer has been terrific early, giving the Spartans nearly 16 ppg from the perimeter. Meanwhile Frazier is a seasoned senior who sets the table for the Majors. If he is off, Millsaps is usually in trouble.
Hanover (1-5) at #8 Hendrix (6-0) -26- Like the Sewanee-Thomas More matchup, this looks like a mismatch on paper, but Hendrix would be unwise to overlook a potent team. The Panthers of cbous' one win was over an excellent Coe team that prompted a rather bizarre and hilarious outburst from the opposing coach. Meanwhile the Warriors are off to a flying start under second-year coach unc, having won every game by at least 13.
Key matchup- Kirk Reynolds vs Willie Robinson. If Hanover is going to spring the upset, it is going to be through their terrific PF Robinson, who averages 16 ppg. He will be opposed by one of the best players in all of D-3 in Reynolds. Though Patrick Jim leads Hendrix in scoring, it is the senior post that poses the most problems for most coaches.
#20 Waynesburg (5-1) at #12 Stillman (4-2) EVEN- Another tough one to call. Stillman began the season ranked #2 and jumped to the top spot, before two recent, puzzling losses have knocked them down a peg. It won't get easier facing a strong Waynesburg squad. Shamrockmarc's Tigers are loaded once again, after a terrific season fell short in the 2nd round a year ago, with 3 700+ players already. Meanwhile delphcomm's Yellow Jackets, always a threat, has posted 5 road victories already. Will Waynesburg improve upon their last meeting with a ranked opponent, when they fell to Vassar?
Key matchup- Arnold Gates vs Charles Jack. This was a tough one to pick, because both teams are very balanced. Gates though, has the ability to take over a game offensively. However, he also could get into serious foul trouble and Stillman is a different team with him on the bench. Jack, a good defender who contributes offensively as well, should try and drive straight at the Tigers senior. Because the best way to shut him down, might be putting him on the bench.
Southwestern (3-3) at Westminster (PA) (5-1) EVEN- Another close one according to the odds. Southwestern, like Stillman, was picked in the pre-season top 5. Also like Stillman, they have faltered early. But after a puzzling 3-game losing streak lbrown's Pirates seem to have rebounded, particularly with a road win over #22 Marymount. They encounter a tough Titans squad coached by the veteran iusears. The Titans blew through their opening 5, before taking a step back in a 91-76 loss to a loaded Texas Lutheran team.
Key matchup- Anthony Melton vs Steven Carlson. Melton is an absolute load in the low post, coming off an All-Conference season. Though Southwestern is balanced and led by Glenn Lincoln, Melton has a nasty inside-outside game that is nearly unguardable at times. Carlson though is a sensational rebounder and a good defender who can also provide scoring inside. However he must avoid fouling out like he did in the loss to TLU.
Best of luck to all!!!!