Bracket Prep: LIU-Brooklyn, South Dakota State, Valparaiso, Bucknell

Posted by BHayes on March 14th, 2013

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Over the course of the last two nights, four more teams made their Big Dance dreams a reality. As each of the 31 automatic qualifiers plays their way into the Dance over the next week, we’ll take some time to give you an analytical snapshot of each team that you can refer back to when you’re picking your brackets next weekend.

LIU-Brooklyn

It's An NEC Tournament Three-Peat For The Blackbirds.  Welcome Back To The Big Dance!

It’s An NEC Tournament Three-Peat For The Blackbirds. Welcome Back To The Big Dance!

  • NEC Champion (20-13, 15-6)
  • RPI/Pomeroy/Sagarin = #178/#184/#162
  • Adjusted Scoring Margin = +0.2
  • Likely NCAA Seed: #16

 Three Bruce Pearls of Wisdom.

  1. While it might be a bit of hyperbole to announce the Long Island Blackbirds as a NEC dynasty, three conference tournament titles in a row will get that conversation started. LIU may have found the transition under new coach Jack Perri to be slightly rougher than expected – they were just 5-10 before winning 10 of their final 13 games – but a familiar destination has appeared at the end of the road – the NCAA Tournament. And while the Blackbirds haven’t completely embarrassed themselves in the past two NCAA Tournaments (losing by 15 and 22 points, respectively), can this year’s team make the next step and put a real scare into one of the field’s top teams?
  2. Normally, a team playing at the 29th quickest tempo in the nation would be lauded for their freneticism, and yes, LIU does play fast. But after back-to-back years of holding a top three spot in the metric, things have slowed down a bit in Brooklyn. The offensive personnel on this team is impressive. Junior point guard Jason Brickman is the nation’s leader in assists at 8.5 per contest, while his backcourt mate CJ Garner has been on a scoring tear, going for 30+ in three of the Blackbirds last four. Neither is the team’s most talented player, however; senior Jamal Olasewere plays power forward for LIU at 6’7”, but would seamlessly fit in on most any power conference team at the two or the three. A phenomenal athlete who can both put the ball on the deck and score with his back to the basket, Olasewere is a match-up problem waiting to happen.
  3. It’s fun to watch LIU play offense. Too often though, it’s just as fun to watch their opponents play offense. LIU ranks 318th nationally in defensive efficiency, and gave up at least 89 points to each of their three power conference foes this season — Kentucky, Maryland, and Seton Hall (yes, the same Seton Hall that managed a total of 81 regulation points during its two-game Big East Tournament run.) None of those three games were particularly close. The offensive firepower gives the Blackbirds more bite than your typical #16 seed, but their profound inability to get stops is the reason they will likely be in that slot. LIU might have a little bit of fun at the Big Dance – maybe 20 minutes or so – but nothing they have done so far suggests they are capable of hanging with the nation’s elite for the full 40.

South Dakota State

Next Stop For The Jackrabbits: The Big Dance

Next Stop For The Jackrabbits: The Big Dance

  • Summit League Champion (25-9, 16-3)
  • RPI/Pomeroy/Sagarin = #65/#103/#94
  • Adjusted Scoring Margin = +4.6
  • Likely NCAA Seed: #13-#14

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RTC Summer Updates: Northeast Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on August 19th, 2011

With the completion of the NBA Draft and the annual coaching and transfer carousels nearing their ends, RTC is rolling out a new series, RTC Summer Updates, to give you a crash course on each Division I conference during the summer months. Our latest and final update comes courtesy of our NEC correspondent, Ray Floriani.

Summer Storylines

  • Monmouth Makes Noise - First came the hiring of King Rice to take over for Dave Calloway. Rice promises a significant upgrade, change in culture and return to winning ways for the New Jersey Shore-based school. To beef up its revenue stream, the university recently announced a partnership with New Jersey’s Millennium Radio Group. As part of the deal, all Monmouth games will be aired on WOBM-AM for the next three seasons. Each Monday, the King Rice Show will also be broadcast on the station. Finally, Monmouth accepted a bid to play in the NIT Season Tip-Off. The Hawks will face Virginia Tech in Blacksburg in the East Regional. Other teams in that group are George Mason and Florida International.
  • Phenomenal Phelan: NEC Hall of Famer Jim Phelan will receive the Lapchick Character Award at Madison Square Garden. The former Mount St. Mary’s mentor joins Hall of Famer Pete Carril and Virginia women’s coach Debbie Ryan in receiving this year’s honor. The trio has enjoyed wonderful and winning careers punctuated with loyalty, longevity and success.
  • Red Flash Commemorates History: St. Francis (PA) looks to improve and be competitive in the NEC, but not without forgetting its past. St. Francis will honor the “Golden” basketball legacy between 1940 and 1970. Players from that area will be nominated and reviewed by a selection committee to be included in an extended wing of the St. Francis Hall of Fame. As 1970 alumnus Bob Moore said, “Small Catholic colleges, particularly in the East, ranked among the nation’s collegiate powers.  To pay tribute to those early players and the teams St. Francis produced is long overdue.”
  • Hurley Hunkers Down: Wagner head coach Danny Hurley is getting his teams exposed to the highest level and toughened up for league play. His Wagner club will visit 2011 NCAA Tournament representatives Princeton, UConn and Pittsburgh on the road.  The Seahawks will also travel to the Cable Car Classic out west in December. Wagner opens that tournament with Air Force before facing Santa Clara or Eastern Michigan in the next round.
  • More of Moore: Quinnipiac coach Tom Moore was awarded a well-deserved extension through the 2015-16 season. Terms of the pact were not disclosed. Moore led Quinnipiac to 23 victories and a NEC regular season title in 2010.

CCSU's Ken Horton Leads The Charge For The Blue Devils. (CCSUBlueDevils.com)

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Checking in on… the NEC

Posted by Brian Goodman on December 10th, 2010

Ray Floriani of College Chalk Talk is the RTC correspondent for the NEC and MAAC.

Close games and dramatic finishes are normally the order in the NEC. The first weekend of conference play provided just that and hinted that the conference race will be an interesting affair.  Quinnipiac rallied from four down in the final minute at home to defeat Mount St.Mary’s. Bobcat junior James Johnson scored eight points in the final minute, including the game winner just before the buzzer.  A few hours later, St. Francis (NY) came from four down to edge defending NEC champion Robert Morris in Brooklyn. Senior guard Akeem Bennett hit two free throws with four seconds left to put the Terriers on top. Bennett then raced down court and blocked a potential game winning three-point attempt to seal the verdict.

It is going to be that type of year….

1. St.Francis (NY): (4-3) (2-0) – The Terriers are off to a fast start in conference play, beating St. Francis (PA) and Robert Morris before capping off the week with a non-conference conquest of Colgate. St. Francis plays at a moderate 65-possession pace, but their defense has managed to force opponents into a 27% TO rate. Overall defensive efficiency is at an impressive 95.

Notable: Akeem Bennett, the Co-Player of the Week in the NEC, averaged 24.6 points and 6.5 rebounds to earn the honors. A senior guard, Bennett was instrumental in conference wins over Robert Morris and St. Francis (PA).

2. Fairleigh Dickinson: (3-4) (2-0): The Knights proved their readiness for conference by toppling Bryant and Central Connecticut at home. They then went on the road, losing at Connecticut, an outcome to be expected. The offense has been the issue with an efficiency of 93 and eFG mark of 43%.

Notable : Junior forward Kamil Svdrlik earned Co-Player of the Week honors averaging 18.9 PPG and 9.3 RPG. Svdrlik has given coach Greg Vetrone the inside presence he needed.

3. Quinnipiac: (6-2) (1-0)– The Bobcats came up just short to UMass, and went on to take it out on Mount St. Mary’s and Lehigh in a pair of wins. A wild team, Quinnipiac went from giving up an efficiency of 97 to the Minutemen to 117 against the Mount. In that latter game, the Bobcats enjoyed a 120 OE of their own to pull off the win. A decisive offensive rebounding core has a major strength.

Notable: junior guard James Johnson had a well rounded week of 18.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game.

4. Wagner (4-4) (1-0): The Seahawks sandwiched a win over Sacred Heart in NEC play between losses to St. John’s and Columbia. Defense has been an above average trait for the Seahawks as they hold opposition to 99 OE and force a turnover rate of 21%.  Offensive efficiency of 96 begs for improvement.

Notable: Freshman guard Latif Rivers earned NEC Rookie of the Week honors with a 17.3 points, 4.7 rebound per game week for the Seahawks. Junior guard Tyler Murray continues to do it all for Wagner. He enjoyed another excellent week, with 20 points per game in three games.

5. Long Island (5-3) (1-1): The Blackbirds bean conference play, dropping a tough one to Robert Morris at home before rebounding to defeat St.Francis (PA). LIU then went on the road, losing to Iona, to close out the week. Efficiency was outstanding offensively at 113 in the Robert Morris game. Unfortunately, they gave up a 115 rate to the visiting Colonials. Jim Ferry’s club is playing at a quick 75 possession pace, which is to their advantage.

Notable: Sophomore guard C.J.Garner averaged 17 points 3.5 assists and shot 50% from the floor for the week.

6. Central Connecticut (4-4) (1-1): CCSU had a rough go of it, losing three straight games. The last two, against Fairleigh Dickinson and Dayton, were heartbreakers, with a combined losing margin of four. The Blue Devils sported an outstanding 86 defensive efficiency at FDU, but the offense, struggling of late, produced a paltry 82 rating. Shooting, with an eFG percentage of 47%, is a major culprit.

Notable: Junior forward Ken Horton paced the offense, scoring 12.5 points and adding 6.5 rebounds per game.

7. Robert Morris (3-5) (1-1): RMU salvaged a split in Brooklyn, defeating LIU before dropping a close one to the Terriers. The Colonials were soundly defeated at West Virginia to close out the week 1-2. A defensively stout group, RMU forces a 24% turnover rate, which nets them extra possessions. Robert Morris was without the services of junior forward Lawrence Bridges (concussion) and sophomore guard Karon Abraham (suspension) on the Brooklyn trip.

Notable: Redshirt sophomore forward Russell Johnson averaged 17 points, 6 rebounds on the week.

8. Mount St. Mary’s (3-6) (1-1): Road games saw the Mount win at Sacred Heart before dropping tough ones to Quinnipiac and Penn State. Defense has been acceptable, with a DE mark of 99. Quinnipiac, though, was an aberration as the Mount ‘generously’ gave up a 120 OE to the Bobcats. Cutting down on the TO rate of 22% will raise the Mount’s below par OE of 96.

Notable: Junior guard Lamar Trice averaged an impressive all-around 15.3 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists.

9. Monmouth (3-5) (0-1): Three close calls – The Hawks defeated Eastern Michigan at home and North Dakota on the road. The lone loss was to the Vandals of Idaho, also on the road. The offense enjoyed a breakout 114 offensive efficiency rat at Idaho..

Notable: A pair of juniors, guard Will Campbell and forward Mike Myers-Keitt were named to the Basketball Travelers Classic all-Tournament team. The Hawks went 2-1 in the Idaho-based event.

10. Bryant (0-1) (1-7): Life in D-I is still a challenge. The 102 OE rating at FDU was the second highest of the season. The eight opponents this season have not cracked a 50% eFG percentage, which largely explains Bryant’s outrageously high 113 defensive efficiency.

Notable: Cecil Gresham had an outstanding 28-point, 6-rebound performance in a competitive conference loss at FDU. He shot 9-17 (53%) from the floor, including 6-14 from three-point range.

11. St.Francis (PA) (2-6) (0-2): A tough stretch for the Red Flash included losses at Youngstown State, LIU and St. Francis (NY). Opposing shooters are having a field day with a 51% eFG percentage. Depth is a major concern.

Notable: Sophomore guard Umar Shannon paced the team with 17 points and 3.5 rebounds per game on the week. Shannon led the Red Flash with 15 points at St. Francis (NY) and 19 at LIU.

12. Sacred Heart (2-7) (0-2): Snapped a three-game losing streak with a 56-55 win over Hartford in which they came back from a 51-31 deficit. Offensive efficiency is lacking, and a TO rate of 24% is not helping the cause. Their defensive efficiency of 99 could improve but not bad overall. It’s the offense, over 100 in OE only twice in nine games thus far.

Notable: Redshirt sophomore guard Shane Gibson scored a career high 21 points in the loss to the Mount. Gibson was 8-15 from the field (3 of 6 from three point range).

A Look Ahead:

The NEC takes a load off to attend to final exams, but the conference will hope to make a splash with games against Rhode Island (Quinnipiac), Rutgers (Fairleigh Dickinson and Monmouth) and Northwestern (St. Francis – NY).

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Checking in on the… Sun Belt

Posted by rtmsf on February 26th, 2009

 

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It’s Down to the Wire

Inching closer to Tournament Time!  All but two teams have just two games remaining on their SBC schedule which will conclude tonight and this weekend.  Thankfully, the West has experienced some much needed separation except for the bottom of the pack who will be in a dog fight to avoid a first round road game.  In the East, the Toppers, having won against Troy in last weeks game of the week, are now seriously poised to nab the number one overall seed and possibly the whole enchilada given the next story.  Which is…

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