Purple Eagles and Rattlers open up 69th NCAA Tournament
Dayton, OH (Sports Network) – For the right to play in the First Round of the
69th annual NCAA Tournament, the Niagara Purple Eagles will clash with the
Florida A&M Rattlers this evening from the Dayton Arena in an opening
round matchup. The winner of this contest will have the task of battling
top-seeded Kansas in the West Region.
The Rattlers won seven of their last eight games, including a thrilling,
58-56 victory over Delaware State in the title game of the Mid-Eastern
Athletic Conference Tournament. The late surge left Florida A&M with a
solid 21-13 ledger and a win tonight would tie a school record for most
victories in a season since joining Division I basketball.
As for the Purple Eagles, they might be one of the hottest teams in the
nation, winning 11 consecutive games, including a sensational, 83-79 victory
over Siena in the championship matchup of the Metro Atlantic Athletic
Conference tourney. The strong finish to the season left Niagara with an
impressive 22-11 overall ledger.
This will be just the second-ever meeting between the two schools on the
hardwood. The only other matchup was a 76-65 decision posted by the Purple
Eagles back in 1998. Both teams are making just their third appearance in the
Big Dance. Niagara is 1-3 in previous tournament play, while Florida A&M is
The Purple Eagles come soaring into this matchup, clicking on all cylinders
offensively. Niagara is currently averaging a whopping 76.1 ppg, while
shooting 42.3 percent from the field. The team has also dominated the boards,
outrebounding opponents by 4.2 rpg, and played smart basketball, committing
just 14.2 turnovers per game. The frontcourt duo of Charron Fisher and Clif
Brown has been a sensational duo for Niagara, as Fisher is scoring 21 ppg and
collecting 8.1 rpg, while Brown is averaging 16 ppg to go along with a team-
best 9.8 rpg. Lorenzo Miles has turned into an outstanding floor general, as
the guard is netting 12.9 ppg, while also leading the squad with 3.6 apg.
Tyrone Lewis and J.R. Duffey have also made solid contributions, as Lewis is
posting 12.3 ppg, while Duffey is chipping in 10.5 ppg to go along with 5.5
Florida A&M might have four players averaging double figures, but despite the
solid distributions, the Rattlers are only producing 70.5 ppg, while shooting
45 percent from the field. Rome Sanders has been the top option for Florida
A&M, as the big man is netting 15.3 ppg, while grabbing 5.9 rpg. Brian Greene
has also done a solid job in the paint, as the forward is posting 11.7 ppg to
go along with a team-high 7.4 rpg and 55 steals. Leslie Robinson has been the
main man in the backcourt for Florida A&M, as the guard is scoring 11.3 ppg,
despite shooting only 39.7 percent from the floor. Darius Glover has also
played a role in the Rattlers’ success, chipping in 10.8 ppg. However, the
guard unfortunately is also leading the squad with 98 turnovers.