Robert Morris tips off massive weekend

Robert Morris (8-19, 6-8) vs. LIU-Brooklyn (13-12, 7-7)
When: Thursday, Feb. 18 at 7 p.m.
Where: The Charles L. Sewall Center, “The world’s most famous center”
KenPom: RMU 311, LIU 271
KenPom Line: RMU -1
Storyline: Robert Morris tips off their biggest weekend of the year with a home game at the always-rowdy Charles L. Sewall Center. LIU is one game up in the standings on the Colonials.

There is literally not a better day of the year than when Long Island University makes the trip to Moon Township for a basketball game.

While this isn’t a battle between two of the top dogs in the NEC, RMU and LIU will play a very important game. Current standings!

5. Sacred Heart, 8-6
6. St. Francis Brooklyn, 7-7
7. LIU, 7-7
8. Robert Morris, 6-8
9. Bryant, 4-10

Robert Morris beat LIU 70-60 on Jan. 3rd for their first conference win of the season. A win today would give the Colonials the edge in any head-to-head tiebreaker with LIU moving forward. It would also move them one game closer toward a middle seed in the NEC conference tournament. As crazy as it might sound, Robert Morris still is in contention for a top-four seed. That discussion is for another time.

The Blackbirds, winners of three of their last four, are playing some good basketball. Fresh off of back-to-back wins over Wagner and St. Francis Brooklyn, the Blackbirds are looking like the team many thought they would be after an impressive non-conference portion of the season.

The two most important names to know are guard Martin Hermannsson and power forward Jerome Frink. Hermannsson has been consistently awesome all year, effortlessly switching on and off as a ball handler while shooting at a high percentage. He’s a potential first-team all-NEC guy.

Frink is on that same level. He’s the type of forward who’s skilled enough to beat you with his back to the basket but good enough to let it fly from three. He reminds me a lot of former RMU forward Jeremiah Worthem.

As a team, LIU is outstanding or horrible at one certain thing. They rank fifth in the conference in offensive and defensive efficiency, which helps explain their .500 conference record.

If there was EVER a game for RMU to have a nice night from three, it’s tonight. They’re playing at the comfort of their home court and are facing a defense that allows opponents to shoot 36 percent from three.

On the other end, LIU is a lot like RMU. They can’t shoot for shit from three. This one could be a rock fight.

Which kind of brings me to the final point. One of the best parts of Saturday’s win is this team finally had a game where they had to hit big shots and make big stops against a team that’s better than them. Those types of win can do a lot for a team’s psyche.

These next two weeks aren’t going to be easy, but if RMU can continue winning some close games, that kind of momentum could be dangerous heading into the NEC tournament.

–Chris Cappella

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