The Army-Navy football game has been a mainstay in part because of its neutral and often high-end location and on Saturday the basketball game between the two schools follows suit. Army will host Navy at Madison Square Garden in New York, the most famous arena in sports. This will mark the first-ever meeting between the two schools at this most prestigious of venues and this seems to be a fitting season for the game to take place with both Army and Navy being contenders for the Patriot League crown.
Here is a look at the three keys for the Midshipmen to keep their winning streak going:
1. Attack the weaknesses
It looks more and more likely that both Tanner Plomb (knee) and Kevin Ferguson (ankle) will miss this clash having both missed the previous two Army games with injuries. Injuries to stars will hurt any team, but Army is not hugely deep and the team is clearly missing the leading scorer (Plomb) and rebounder (Ferguson) in the Patriot League. These two players missing is huge for Navy as a team that routinely scores 85 or more points in a game is struggling to get out of the low 60s at this point. Navy should attack the paint, and the boards, hard to try to assert their dominance down low early on. If they can have their way with the Army backups inside then the rest of the offense will flow from there.
2. Stop Kyle Wilson
With Plomb likely out of the lineup, much of the scoring burden for the Black Knights has fallen on sharpshooter Kyle Wilson. The problem for Wilson has been that without Plomb in the game to take pressure off of him the perimeter defenders are able to come out and challenge his shots faster, forcing him to take a lot of contested three-pointers. This was certainly the case against Holy Cross as the Crusaders made sure Wilson was not going to beat them, as a result, he went 2-of-10 from behind the arc and Army, who entered the game averaging over 10 three-point makes per contest, made just six as a team in the loss. Challenging Wilson, and the other Army perimeter shooters, will be a huge key to the game.
3. Overcome the occasion
Any way you look at it, this is a huge game for both teams. Seeding in the Patriot League Tournament means more to both Army and Navy this year as, without injury-depleted rosters, both would think of themselves and Bucknell as the favorites to take the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament from the league. Throw in the fact that this has been designated as the men's basketball Star Game AND that it is being played at The Garden and you have an occasion that could easily overwhelm. If Navy adapts to the unique challenges of this game and this situation then the Mids will be favorites to come out on top.