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Albany to field melting pot lineup in first round

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DAYTON, Ohio — Albany coach Will Brown says there’s an easy way to determine who’ll win his team’s First Four game with Mount St. Mary’s tonight.

“I think the team with the most Australians is going to win,” he cracked.

If that’s the case, then the Great Danes could win a tournament in Melbourne.

They have four Aussies in a United Nations lineup that also includes players from Georgia (the country, not the state) and Denmark.

The mother and father of forwards Sam and Michael Rowley flew out of Sydney before they knew their final destination. They were changing planes in Dallas on Monday night to get to the first-round game at the University of Dayton.

“With my parents, it’s just any excuse to get out of work,” joked Sam Rowley, who averages 11.5 points a game, second on the team to Adelaide native Peter Hooley’s 15.7.

Those families who can’t make it across the world to the games have parties in the middle of the night or early in the morning to watch their kids in action.

What they’ll see today figures to be an interesting contrast.

The Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers like to run and shoot 3s. The Great Danes, winners of the American East, prefer to pound it inside.

“They’re almost the complete opposite of us,” said the Mountaineer forward Sam Prescott. “They’ll try to slow the game down and grind it out as we’re going to try to speed it up.”

The Mount has attempted 797 3-pointers in 32 games; Albany has tried 431 in the same number of games.

Mountaineers coach Jamion Christian said even if his team isn’t making everything behind the arc, it’ll still be fine.

“We’re 8-2 when we make seven or fewer 3s,” he said.

Xavier in familiar territory

Get on Interstate 75, drive north for less than an hour, play in an arena that’s been a mainstay on the schedule for decades. Seems like Xavier has a built-in advantage for its opening NCAA game.

Oh, but those slow-to-forget Dayton fans will try to do something about it.

The Musketeers (21-12) play a First Four game against North Carolina State (21-13) tonight at the University of Dayton Arena, the site of many storied games against the Flyers. That rivalry went into hiatus when Xavier moved into the Big East this season.

Both teams reached the NCAA tournament — Dayton plays Ohio State in Buffalo on Thursday. Many of their fans will still be at home on Tuesday, intermingled with the Xavier fans in the stands.

It’s not going to be all cheers for the home team.

“I’m sure it will be a bit of oil-and-vinegar tomorrow night,” Xavier coach Chris Mack said.

The teams have never played, but they have one close tie. Sophomore Semaj Christon, who is Xavier’s leading scorer, was the roommate of sophomore T.J. Warren, the ACC’s player of the year and top scorer, when they played together at Brewster Academy.

“We have a good relationship,” said Warren, who is averaging 24.8 points per game. “I’m familiar with his game. He’s from Cincinnati, so it’s not too far from here.”

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