Setting the Scene... The fourth-seeded USMMA men's basketball team heads to Washington, DC Wednesday night to take on regular season champion Catholic in the Landmark Conference semifinals. The Mariners enter the game having won three straight and four of their last five to make the playoffs. On the other hand, the Cardinals have dominated the league and are currently ranked #11 in the nation by D3Hoops.com.
Series History... Catholic currently holds a 12-9 edge in the all-time series against USMMA, including a pair of victories this season. The Cardinals cruised to a 74-57 win on their home floor in the first meeting of 2012-13. In the second contest, the Mariners kept within striking distance throughout but eventually dropped a 54-42 defensive struggle in O'Hara Hall.
Postseason History... The Mariners are making their fourth Landmark Conference semifinal appearance in the sixth year since the league's inception. USMMA last competed in the Landmark Conference Tournament in 2010-11 where the fourth-seeded Mariners pushed #1 Scranton to the limit in a 74-71 overtime setback. Merchant Marine captured its only Landmark Conference Championship in the 2009-10 campaign and went on to win its first round game in the NCAA Tournament.
Block Party... USMMA ranks 10th in the country, and first in the Landmark Conference, blocking 5.3 shots per game in 2012-13. Both Andrew Williams (Lantana, TX) and Scott Dennin (Gilbertsville, PA) rank in the top-five in the league in rejections.
Cleaning the Glass... Merchant Marine finished the regular season first in the Landmark Conference in rebounding as well as having the top individual rebounder in the league. Junior Nick Sergio (Patchogue, NY) pulled down 7.8 rebounds per game to pace the circuit and racked up five double-doubles in the regular season. The Mariners averaged 42.2 rebounds per game and a margin of +8.5, which ranks 11th in the country in NCAA Division III.
Trophy "Buck"... Reed Buck (Lawrenceville, GA) picked up a league best third Landmark Conference Player of the Week after averaging 22.0 points in the Mariners final two wins of the regular season. He also finished the regular season with a conference best 18.8 points per game. Buck has reached double digit points in 22-of-25 games and eclipsed the 20-point mark 11 times this year.