Conference play is exactly at the one-third point for teams, but already there's a game on this weekend's schedule that really could pretty much decide the regular-season race.
It's Siena at Fairfield, at the Stags' Arena at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport, Conn. Game time is 4 p.m.
If the Saints win, they are in the proverbial "driver's seat" in the league standings. They would be 7-0 in conference play and the closest competitor would be a two-loss Fairfield. No other MAAC team, through six games, has fewer than three losses.
On the other hand, if Fairfield wins it moves into a first-place tie with Siena with a 6-1 record, and brings the other contenders back within range of the Saints.
With so much at stake, we'll take a two-part look at the game from each's side. First, Siena ...
SIENA'S KEY STATS
- No. 1 in the conference in points per game, 76.9.
- No. 1 in scoring margin, +10.4 (+16.2 in MAAC games).
- No. 1 in field-goal percentage, 46.0.
- No. 1 in rebounding offense, 39.0.
- No. 6 in scoring defense, 66.5
- No. 1 in rebounding margin, +3.4
- No. 1 in assists per game, 15.4.
- No. 1 in steals, 10.3
- No. 10 in 3-pointers made per game, 4.3
C-Ryan Rossiter, 6-8 junior (12.7 points, 10.1 rebounds)
F-Edwin Ubiles, 6-6 senior (15.8, 4.1)
F-Clarence Jackson, 6-5 senior (14.8, 8.3)
G-Clarence Jackson, 6-3 junior (14.5, 2.5)
G-Ronald Moore, 5-11 senior (7.4, 3.6, 8.7 assists)
G-Kyle Downey, 6-2 sophomore (4.8, 1.4)
F-O.D. Anosike, 6-7 freshman (2.9, 3.7)
First of all, as much as we're not looking forward to playing him, everyone is happy to see (Fairfield's) Anthony Johnson back in the lineup after what he went through last season (blod clots that forced him to miss much of the season)," said Siena coach Fran McCaffery. "He is one of the major-impact players in our league.
"Any time you have a guy average around 15 points and eight rebounds ... that makes a big difference. Yorel Hawkins ... you kind of expected him to step up and have a good year this season. But, no one knew that Derek Needham would be so good. He doesn't play like a freshman. They gave him the keys to the car and he's running it. He can really pass it, and he can shoot it, as well. He'll be a handful for us, and he's got help, too. It's rare that a freshman is a go-to guy, but they go to him when they need plays.
"I don't look at this as a big game. We'll have 11 more league games to play. If we win and we're two games in front with 11 to play ... that's not decisive. We'd have a lot more work to do."
- Ubiles has solidified his Player of the Year candidacy of late, averaging 19.6 points per game on 55 percent shooting in the past seven games. He battled through some knee soreness, and missed a game, earlier this season but is close to 100 percent now.
- Moore continues to lead the country in assists.
- Rossiter's 10.1 rebound-per game average is second in the MAAC, behind only the 10.3 per game by Niagara's Bilal Benn.