On Friday afternoon, the #2 seeded Macs will host the #3 seeded Old Westbury Panthers in a semi-final matchup. Old Westbury defeated Mount Saint Mary in the first round of the Skyline playoffs while Yeshiva had a bye. This will be the third matchup between the two teams, with Yeshiva having won the first two matchups in convincing fashion (25 point average margin per victory). The winner of this matchup will take on the winner of Purchase College vs Farmingdale State in the Skyline Championship. Here are some things to look for:
1. Old Westbury star power: Heading into their playoff matchup vs. Mount Saint Mary, Junior Guard Pedro Marquez was the 2nd leading scorer on the team, averaging more than 17 ppg. In fact, in the final game of the season Marquez dropped 27 in a victory over St. Joseph. However, Marquez failed to score for the first 35 minutes vs Mount Saint Mary and finished the game with just 1 point on 0-7 shooting. Yet the Panthers had other players step up big time. Third-leading scorer Justin Alleyne-Washington exploded for 35 points and Chase Johnson (7.6 ppg) drained 5/5 three pointers and finished with 21 points himself. The fate of this game may very well depend on how much these players contribute.
2. YU in close games: The Macs have had several close losses already this season. In games decided by 7 points or less, the Macs are just 3-6 and in games decided by 3 points or less the Macs are an abysmal 1-5. Most recently, the Macs have dropped their last two games each by two points (Farmingdale State and Purchase). Their track record in close games is not great, so it will be interesting to see how the Macs perform if this game comes down to the wire.
Gabe Leifer vs Alan McDonald will be the matchup to pay close attention to over the course of the game. Leifer has been a force all season long for the Macs, averaging more than 17 ppg and leading the Skyline in both rebounds (11.7 rpg) and assists (5.24 apg). On the other end, McDonald has been the Panthers best player all year and is leading the team in both scoring (17.6 ppg) and rebounding (8.1 rpg). The two forwards should be battling it out on Friday afternoon as grit and effort will be tested in the playoff game. Leifer does have a 3 inch advantage over McDonald and has significantly out-rebounded McDonald during their previous matchups.
3. Ryan Turell: Freshman Point Guard Ryan Turell has been the most significant addition to this YU Macs team. He leads the Macs in scoring (19.8 ppg) and has dished out more than 3.5 assists per game. Recently, however, his numbers have been a little down (at least by his standards). Over his last couple of games, Turell has struggled a little from the field, averaging only 14.5 ppg at a 32% field goal percentage, down from his season average of 54%. For a player who had a stretch of seven straight games scoring more than 20 points, the Macs would greatly benefit from a return to his early season production.
Voted as Skyline preseason favorites, the Macs hope to return to the championship for a second consecutive year. First, though, the Macs must beat a strong Old Westbury team. Tipoff is 12 PM. Catch the game as you always can, right here on Macslive.com.