|Kyle DeVerna||Matthew Mancuso||Jackson Danzig||Logan Bailey|
The University of Scranton men's basketball team begins its quest for a Landmark Conference championship on Thursday night with a semifinal matchup at top-seeded Drew starting at 7 p.m. in the Baldwin Gym in Madison, N.J.
The Royals, who enter the conference playoffs as the #4 seed, will need to win twice on the road this week to reclaim the Landmark Conference crown after posting a 9-5 record in conference play during the regular season.
Second-seeded Moravian (17-8) hosts third-seeded Susquehanna (16-9) in Thursday night's other semifinal.
Thursday's winners will meet at 1 p.m. on Sunday on the campus of the highest remaining seed for the Landmark Conference championship game with the winner earning an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Scranton and Drew split the regular season series with the home team winning both times. The Royals defeated the Rangers in Scranton on January 23, 79-71, while Drew clinched the top seed last Wednesday by topping Scranton, 64-52, in Madison.
Scranton has won seven of the first 11 Landmark Conference championships in the league's history having last claimed the title in the 2016-17 season. Overall, the Royals have claimed 24 conference crowns including 17 MAC/Freedom Conference championships while making 28 appearances in the NCAA Tournament, most recently having played in the national tournament four-straight years from 2014-2017.
Led by head coach Carl Danzig in his 18th season, Scranton reached the 20-win milestone for the 25th time in program history, including the 10th time under Danzig, by topping Goucher in Saturday's regular season finale, 59-45.
The Royals average 76.8 points per game offensively and have four players averaging double-figures. Sophomore guard Logan Bailey (Scranton, Pa./Scranton Prep) is scoring 16.7 points per game while shooting 58 percent from the field while junior forward Matthew Mancuso (Bridgewater, N.J./Bridgewater-Raritan) averages 15.7 points and 9.1 rebounds per game.
Junior Kyle DeVerna (Rockville Centre, N.Y./Kellenberg Memorial) nets 13.7 points per game while freshman Jackson Danzig (Clarks Green, Pa./Abington Heights) contributes 12.2 points and 4.4 assists per contest for the Royals, who have held their opponents to 69.1 points per game this season.
Led by head coach Darryl Keckler in his 11th season as head coach, Drew is seeking its first Landmark Conference title this week as the Rangers have never advanced to the championship game since becoming founding members of the league for the 2007-08 season. The Rangers are enjoying a record-breaking season this winter, having reached the 20-win plateau for the first time in program history with a 92-90 victory over Catholic in Saturday's regular season finale.
Drew, which enters the postseason on a five-game win streak, went a perfect 9-0 at home during the regular season. The Rangers claimed the top-seed and home court advantage in the Landmark Conference playoffs by going 12-2 against league opponents.
Drew also features four players who average double-figures led by junior guard Riley Collins, who is scoring 16.8 points per game while leading the conference with 5.6 assists per game. Senior forward Nate Aldrich is contributing 13.7 points and 9.7 rebounds per game, senior forward Sky Harris adds 11.2 points per game, and senior guard Darius Reiter has chipped in with 11.0 points per game.
As a team, the Rangers are averaging 73.8 points per game while allowing 67.5 points against per contest this season.
Admission to Thursday's Landmark Conference semifinal game at Drew is $7 for adults and $4 for seniors and students. Any student, faculty, or staff with a Landmark Conference institution ID, along with children ages 10 and under, will be admitted free of charge.