Couch potatoes can stay home and watch Pitt, Illinois and Loyola Marymount on ESPN tonight, or they can venture out and catch Baltimore's version of Big Monday.
Loyola is at Towson State at 7:30 tonight, and Morgan State plays host to Coppin State at 8. The two games should draw between 6,000 to 8,000 fans.
"It's good for the town if games like these draw," Loyola coach Tom Schneider said. "Rather than stay home and watch Big Monday on television, people ought to get out and see some of the local talent. We've got four starters from Maryland and Towson State has three. These kinds of games are big, and I like that."
Towson State's best crowds of the season came when it hosted the Beltway Classic. But tonight's crowd could exceed the 2,515 that saw its Dec. 1 victory over Loyola by a 62-60 count.
Morgan State traditionally draws best for its games against Howard, but Coppin State will bring a following of its own. More than 2,800 watched the Eagles beat Morgan State Jan. 24, and a sellout crowd of 3,000-plus attended their whipping of Howard Saturday, their 21st straight at the Coppin Center.
Although they are the underdogs tonight, Loyola and Morgan State are playing their best basketball of the season.
Morgan is 4-16 overall, but the Golden Bears played their first 12 games on the road and began 0-14. They are 4-2 since, and their 85-58 loss at Coppin was the only time in their last 10 games they weren't in position to win.
Glenn Smith, a sophomore forward from City, leads Morgan with averages of 16.4 points and 7.7 rebounds. He was held without a basket by Coppin's Larry Stewart in their first meeting.
Loyola is 8-11 and coming off a 67-64 overtime loss at St. Peter's that dropped the Greyhounds to 2-8 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. Loyola is in last place there, and Towson State leads the East Coast Conference. But the Tigers aren't taking the Greyhounds lightly, especially after Schneider arranged to practice at the Towson Center yesterday.
The favorites tonight, Towson and Coppin, are both seeking their second straight titles in their respective conferences and berths in the NCAA tournament. Both are enjoying eight-game win streaks.
Towson State, 13-6 overall, last lost Jan. 7 at Lehigh, and continues to get superb play from its junior class. Coppin State (12-8) hasn't been beaten since Jan. 6, when it fell at New Orleans. Stewart, in search of his second straight MEAC Player of the Year award, has been dominant.