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Preview: Men’s basketball expected to have strong weekend in Northeast Conference play

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Preview: Men’s basketball expected to have strong weekend in Northeast Conference play

MOON TOWNSHIP — The RMU men’s basketball team celebrates after a made three-pointer against Sacred Heart (Samuel Anthony/RMU Sentry Media).

MOON TOWNSHIP — The RMU men’s basketball team celebrates after a made three-pointer against Sacred Heart (Samuel Anthony/RMU Sentry Media).

MOON TOWNSHIP — The RMU men’s basketball team celebrates after a made three-pointer against Sacred Heart (Samuel Anthony/RMU Sentry Media).

MOON TOWNSHIP — The RMU men’s basketball team celebrates after a made three-pointer against Sacred Heart (Samuel Anthony/RMU Sentry Media).

Ryan Giacobbi, Contributor

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MOON TOWNSHIP— The Robert Morris men’s basketball team (12-9, 7-1 NEC) plays the Saint Francis University Red Flash (8-11, 4-4NEC) on Thursday, Jan. 31 at 7 p.m. at the North Athletic Complex and the Fairleigh Dickinson University Knights (9-11, 4-4 NEC) on Saturday, Feb. 2 at 4:30 p.m. after coming off a 57-51 win over Wagner (9-10 4-4 NEC).

Recapping RMU

RMU recently defeated the Wagner College Seahawks on Jan. 26 and extended their win streak to four games as the Colonials sit atop the NEC with seven conference wins. In the game against Wagner, Malik Petteway shined off of the Colonials bench to deliver 14 minutes of play to go along with five field goals and three free throws for 13 points on the night. RMU’s largest lead was 12 points after Sayveon McEwen had scored a layup for Robert Morris near the halfway point of the second half.

Something that is noticeable throughout that stretch of games is that the Colonials were able to jump out to early leads to hold a high difference against each opponent in the game. In the Jan. 19 game against the Bryant Bulldogs (7-12, 4-4 NEC), RMU got as far as 21 points ahead. In the Jan. 21 match-up against Central Connecticut (8-13, 2-6 NEC), the difference was as high as 13 points. In the Jan. 24 game against Sacred Heart (8-13, 4-4 NEC), the difference for Robert Morris was 16 points. In the most recent game against the Wagner College Seahawks (9-10, 4-4 NEC), the difference was 12 points. While some of those differences may not be the most spectacular, the Colonials have shown to everybody that they are capable of holding a substantial difference to win their games.

Scouting Opponents

The Red Flash barely won their last game against the Sacred Heart University Pioneers (8-13, 4-4 NEC) by a one-point difference of 79-78. However, the Red Flash have lost three of their last five games, which is not a good sign for a team trying to contend in the Northeast Conference, but it is good for RMU, who is looking to extend their winning streak to five straight victories. Given that the Red Flash have struggled recently, that is going to be a huge advantage for Robert Morris as they prepare to battle each other.

The Fairleigh Dickinson Knights play host the LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds (10-10, 4-4 NEC) on Thursday, Jan. 31 before the Colonials come to town for their match against the Knights on Feb. 2. Looking at FDU’s recent schedule results, the Knights are on their own winning streak, which is currently standing at three games.

FDU will potentially be able to gain some ground in the Northeast Conference standings, where the Knights currently are knotted in a six-way tie for third place. With Fairleigh Dickinson winning as of recently, the Colonials will need to prepare themselves for the game.

Players to Watch

Malik Petteway (RMU): Petteway is, arguably, one of the Colonials’ best players this season. For the season, Petteway has played for 404 minutes to go along with a .515 field goal percentage and a .646 free-throw percentage to go with 225 points scored for the year. For a young player that is currently on the rise as a known commodity around the Robert Morris community, he has been a steady player coming off the Robert Morris bench.

Josh Williams (RMU): For the player who tied the record for the most three-pointers in a single game at the beginning of the men’s basketball season, he’s been a steady competitor who has his younger brother Jon beside him. For the year, Williams has started every game for the Colonials with 672 minutes played and a .395 field-goal percentage. Williams also has a .409 three-point field goal percentage and .754 free throw percentage as well. Williams has scored 303 points this season. Expect him to be someone that will continue to lead the way for Robert Morris.

Keith Braxton (SFU): Looking at Braxton’s last performance against Sacred Heart, the Red Flash performer played for 38 minutes and he also scored five field goals, a three-pointer, four free-throws for 15 points. For the season, Braxton has played for 527 minutes with a .455 field goal percentage and 20 three-pointers, good enough for a .278 percentage. For the season, Braxton has scored 301 points for the Red Flash. He will be someone to look out for.

Darnell Edge (FDU): Edge is arguably the top player on the Knights’ roster. He has started all of Fairleigh Dickinson’s games this year and leads the way for FDU with 719 minutes played, 15.6 average points, .440 field goal percentage, .397 three-point goal percentage and a .855 free throw percentage to go with 311 points for the year. A strong competitor who has started every game for the Knights is someone that should be worrisome for the Colonials.

Predictions

For my final predictions, I predict the Saint Francis game to be a Robert Morris win. I expect to score to be 80-70 RMU. I expect this because Saint Francis struggled and lost three of their past five games. I expect it to also be a close difference because the Red Flash have Keith Braxton on their roster, who has been one of the biggest pieces to the team.

For the game against Fairleigh Dickinson, I predict the result to be a 55-52, with RMU on top. I expect this close of a victory because the Knights have their own winning streak (pending the outcome of their upcoming game against LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds), but the Colonials have a strong team who can deliver strong results against a team who has been good as of late.

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About the Writer
Ryan Giacobbi, Contributor

Ryan Giacobbi is a junior sports communication major who works as the Sports Package Producer at RMU Sentry Media. He also hosts his weekly podcast, "Pittsburgh's...

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