Three games left. Three wins needed.
Not only do the Maroons (13–9, 6–5 UAA) have to win their final three games of the regular season to share the UAA title, Wash U (17–5, 9–2) needs to lose their last three games. On top of that, Emory (18–4, 7–4) has to lose one game as well.
Unrealistic? Not according to head coach Mike McGrath.
“To come up with a three game deficit with three games to go…it’s not implausible at all, especially when we have one of those games in our gym…for Wash [U] to drop three,” he said. “I think the bigger challenge will be for us to win three. That’s what we can control; that’s what we have to do.”
“It starts with Friday, which is going to be a tremendous challenge.”
Friday’s game features an opponent that the Maroons have lost to at home this season, already: NYU. The Violets defeated Chicago 81–71 in the Maroons’ UAA home opener on January 20.
Guard Kyle Stockmal led the Violets with 26 points on 7–8 shooting from behind the arc.
Still, McGrath does not view Stockmal as NYU’s biggest offensive threat.
“It starts with their big guy [center Andy Stein],” he said. “Then it extends to try to defend their shooters and trying to defend their movement.”
The Violets’ speed allowed them to score 12 points off turnovers and six fast break points in the first half in their last meeting with the Maroons.
It is vital that Chicago does not fall behind early, because it will be difficult to come back.
“If you fall behind and they’re feeling good, the ability to work back in the game, the way we did [against Carnegie] on Friday night, isn’t as easy,” McGrath said. “We’ve got to come out right from the start.”
If the Maroons win on Friday and Wash U loses, their hope of sharing the UAA title will remain alive.
Standing in their way, though, is Brandeis, the team that shocked Chicago at home on January 22 after a buzzer-beating tip-in by guard Tyrone Hughes led to overtime and, ultimately, a 97–89 win for the Judges.
While the Maroons have not yet discussed the game thoroughly, they will be prepared.
“[After Friday’s game at NYU], there are some things in the back of my mind that I remember from last game that I’ll want to look at on film,” McGrath said. “I think we’ve done some things in the meantime that we’re more prepared to handle with Brandeis.”
The importance of the NYU game, however, overshadows any games after it, given that a loss to the Violets would eliminate Chicago from title contention for good.
“My message to the team is: Let’s win [against NYU], see what else happens and kind of go from there,” McGrath said.
The Maroons tip off at New York tonight at 7 p.m. and Sunday at Brandeis at 11 a.m.