This weekend in Williamstown, the tenth ranked Ephs take on number fourteen Amherst in men’s ice hockey on Friday night, and in men’s and women’s basketball in a Saturday double-header. Both Eph swimming teams travel to Amherst on Saturday. Given that this is the first weekend of Winter Study and all ten teams in action are highly regarded (eight of the ten are nationally ranked, with one of the two exceptions, Williams women’s basketball, also having a very strong season at 10-3), expect a raucous environment at Chandler and Lansing Chapman and some exciting, hotly-contested match-ups. All of the rivalry contests will be viewable via webcast (although the Williams home webcasts are all pay-per-view, darn you budget crunch!). Amherst previews all of the match-ups here.
The men’s basketball game should be particularly fun. In a storied rivalry between two of the top D-III programs of the last two decades, Amherst has had a major edge of late, but the Ephs have turned things around under new coach Mike Maker, toppling Amherst in a regular season contest last year for the first time since 2004. Incredibly, the Ephs still haven’t beaten Amherst at Chandler since the same year, enduring a five game home losing streak after beating Amherst five straight times at Chandler. The team and crowd (many of whom this year sport “Sixth Man” t-shirts) will certainly be pumped up for the game. Amherst and Williams are evenly regarded, ranked ninth and eleventh respectively, so expect the game to go down to the wire. And if nothing else, it should be an entertaining game, as Williams is an offensively-minded team that puts up an astonishing 91 points per game, and Amherst is no slouch in the scoring department either.
The Ephs are usually paced by leading scorers Blake Schultz ’10 and James Wang ’12, who combined for 53 in the Ephs’ most recent victory, but the center combo of Troy Whittington ’11 and Joe Geoghegan ’10 form the best post duo in NESCAC, veteran starters Alex Rubin ’10 and Harlan Dodson ’11 can both light it up from three when hot (Rubin in particular has been on fire the last few weeks), and savvy frosh point guard Nate Robertson has really come on of late, emerging as a NESCAC rookie of the year candidate as his playing time continues to increase. Amherst is led by two veteran stars, do-everything point guard Conor Meehan ’11, who almost never takes a breather, and ace shooter Steven Wheeler ’10, each of whom has had big games against Williams in the past.
Women’s hoops will face an even stiffer challenge as Amherst is undefeated, ranked second in the nation, and has all five starters back from last year’s Final Four squad. Women’s hoops, while a major underdog, is much improved thanks to five stellar frosh in the rotation, as they have already (I believe — I realize last year was rough, but it seems to have been completely erased from the Sports Information website :)) won more games in the fall than they managed to win all of last season. You can catch up with both basketball squads on the Sports Information basketball show.
For anyone watching any of the five match-ups via webcast (or better yet, live!), use this thread to post updates.