NEC Tournament Preview & Season Wrap-Up

Posted by rtmsf on March 1st, 2012

Ray Floriani is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and NEC conferences.

Tournament Preview

Opening Tip

The top teams in the Northeast Conference proved to be competitive and battled it against each other all season. Interestingly, the conference postseason shapes up as a very balanced eight team field. LIU Brooklyn is the defending champion and favorite. LIU will face challenges from Wagner, Robert Morris and St. Francis (NY) to name a few. Among the eight teams, even a hot Monmouth team poses a threat. It should make for an interesting tournament and if LIU Brooklyn repeats, they will have truthfully worked and earned it.

The Quarterfinals

The top eight in the NEC qualify for postseason conference play. Each individual game is at the higher seed of the two teams. The conference tournament begins on Thursday with all eight teams tipping it off.

  • Sacred Heart vs. LIU Brooklyn – The Blackbirds were knocked off by Monmouth on Saturday but take a 24-game home winning streak in this meeting. Player of the Year Julian Boyd leads a well balanced and dangerous attack. Sacred Heart lost closes contests to Robert Morris and St. Francis (NY) in the last week. The Pioneers also took LIU Brooklyn to overtime before losing 103-91 back on February 16. Dave Bike’s club will try to become the first #8 seed to knock off the regular season champion in NEC history.
  • CCSU vs. Wagner – A Wagner-LIU semifinal is highly anticipated. First, the Seahawks have to knock off a dangerous CCSU team. The winningest team in the NY metro area, Wagner split with CCSU this season. The Blue Devils of Howie Dickenman are on a roll, winning three of their last four, included was that victory over Wagner on Saturday. With a versatile veteran and star in Ken Horton plus a backcourt talent in Rookie of the Year Kyle Venales, CCSU will not be an easy out.
  • Monmouth vs. Robert Morris – The Chuck is not easy on visitors but Monmouth is arguably the NEC’s most dangerous team at this point. The Colonials are on a roll of their own, winning six of their last seven. Monmouth, a preseason number ten pick, captured seven of their final nine under first year mentor King Rice. The ten NEC victories posted by the Hawks  is their most since 2006 and includes victories over LIU Brooklyn and St. Francis (NY) the final week of the campaign.
  • Quinnipiac vs. St. Francis (NY) – A season ending loss at FDU dropped the Terriers to a four seed. Glen Braica’s group, a preseason 11 pick, will host their first NEC postseason conference game since 1997. St. Francis swept the Bobcats this season but Quinnipiac is another team with momentum, entering the NEC tourney winners of eight of their last eleven games. St. Francis will most likely be without two keys players in Travis Nichols and Stefan Perunicic who also missed the FDU contest.

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Checking In On… the NEC

Posted by rtmsf on February 18th, 2012

Ray Floriani is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and NEC conferences.

Reader’s Take

 

Opening Tip

A week to go. Barring upsets, LIU Brooklyn appears set for the top seed. They own a one-game lead over Wagner but swept the Seahawks in their two meetings. In the postseason tournament, don’t count out Danny  Hurley’s club. Nor Robert Morris or St. Francis (NY). Yes, one more week before the fun really starts.

Standings

Team, NEC record, overall record:

LIU 14-1, 20-7
Wagner 13-2, 22-4
Robert Morris 11-4, 20-8
St. Francis (NY) 11-4, 14-12
Quinnipiac 8-7, 15-11
Central Connecticut St. 8-7, 11-14
Sacred Heart 7-8, 13-15
Monmouth 7-8, 9-19
Mount St. Mary’s 5-10, 7-19
St. Francis (PA) 4-11, 5-21
Fairleigh Dickinson 1-14, 2-24
Bryant 1-14, 2-25

Notables

NEC Co-Players of the Week:

  • Jamal Olasewere, LIU, 6’7″, Jr., F– Averaged 26.5 points and 11 rebounds. Posted his eighth double-double of the season with a 21-point, 11-rebound outing in the win over St. Francis (NY) at Madison Square Garden.

Jamal Olasewere (ball) Had An Outstanding Week (AP)

  • Shane Gibson, Sacred Heart, 6’2″, Jr., G – Averaged 32 points while shooting a blistering 63% from the field. Gibson hit 30 points in the first meeting with Bryant which also allowed him to break the single season scoring record (542 points) for Sacred Heart since they moved to Division I.

NEC Rookie of the-Week:

Ousmane Drame, Quinnipiac, 6’9″, Fr., F – Averaged a solid nine points, eight rebounds and two blocks in a 2-0 week for the Bobcats. Drame has averaged 10.4 rebounds over the last six games and is seventh in the NEC (7.3 RPG) in that category.

Team Recaps

  1. LIU Brooklyn – Swept rival and Brooklyn neighbor St. Francis (NY).  Blackbirds have won five straight and 14 of the last 15 in the series. Julian Boyd had double-doubles in both games. Jamal Olasewere was named MVP of the Battle of Brooklyn for his career high 32 points. Blackbirds are second in the nation with 28.2 free throw attempts per game.
  2. Wagner – Continued the winning ways by sweeping Mount St. Mary’s. Seahawks hit the 20-win mark for the sixth time in the school’s 91-year basketball history. Wagner also clinched a playoff berth and guaranteed a first round home game. Jonathon Williams led Wagner with a 16.5 points per game and shot 72% shooting from the floor. Senior Tyler Murray also contributed a 12.5 PPG week. Read the rest of this entry »
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Checking In On… the NEC

Posted by rtmsf on February 3rd, 2012

Ray Floriani is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and NEC conferences.

Reader’s Take

 

Opening Tip

The general consensus is that LIU Brooklyn and Wagner are the top two teams in the conference. With less than a month remaining in the regular season, however, there are five programs with a legitimate shot at the top. Keep an eye on LIU vs. St. Francis (NY) at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday. It is a St. Francis “home” game and it gives the Terriers another opportunity to achieve a statement victory.

Standings

Team, MAAC record, overall record:

LIU 10-1, 16-7
Wagner 9-2, 18-4
St. Francis (NY) 9-2, 12-10
Robert Morris 7-4, 16-8
Central Connecticut St. 7-4, 10-11
Quinnipiac 5-6, 12-10
Monmouth 5-6, 7-17
Sacred Heart 4-7, 10-14
Mount St. Mary’s 4-7, 6-16
St. Francis (PA) 4-7, 5-17
Fairleigh Dickinson 1-10, 2-20
Bryant 1-10, 2-21

 

NEC Player of the Week:

Shane Gibson, Sacred Heart, 6’2″, Jr., G – Averaged 30.5 points per game last week to increase his NEC scoring average to 21.6 points per game. Gibson shot 51% from the field and added 5.0 rebounds and 2.5 steals for the Pioneers in their two games. Gibson ranks fourth nationally in scoring and is averaging 26.1 points in NEC action.

Sacred Heart's Shane Gibson Is Making A Great Case For Player of the Year (AP)

NEC Rookie of the Week:

Ousmane Drame, Quinnipiac, 6’9″, Fr., F – Averaged 8.5 points, and12 rebounds for the week. Drame posted career-highs with 13 points and 15 rebounds in a comeback overtime win over Mount St. Mary’s.

Team Overviews

  1. LIU Brooklyn – On the conference’s “Western” swing, the Blackbirds lost at Robert Morris and defeated St. Francis (PA). Before that loss to Robert Morris, LIU had won 18 (21 including the tournament) straight NEC games dating back to last season. Julian Boyd scored 25 points and  added 12 rebounds against the Colonials. Jamal Olasewere enjoyed his seventh double-double of the season with a 26-point, 10-rebound outing at St. Francis. Jason Brickman added 12 assists. Read the rest of this entry »
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Checking In On… the NEC

Posted by rtmsf on January 21st, 2012

Ray Floriani is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and NEC conferences.

Reader’s Take

 

Looking Back

There is still over half a conference season to play. But, on Saturday on Staten Island, a very important and interesting matchup is on tap: Long Island Brooklyn versus Wagner. The two met in Brooklyn in December with the Blackbirds earning a narrow 78-73 victory. Since then, Jim Ferry’s club has captured nine of 11 and is unblemished in NEC play. Meanwhile, Wagner has won nine of its last 10. Included are victories at Pitt and the championship of the Cable Car Classic. The only setback for Danny Hurley’s group was a one-point loss to a good Lehigh team in early December. Yes, an enticing meeting and somehow we get the feeling it just might not be  the last between these teams this season.

NEC Co-Players of the Week

  • Julian Boyd, LIU, 6’7″, Jr., F: Boyd hit his 1,000th career point and led the way with 21 points average per game as the Blackbirds swept their two NEC games to move into sole possession of first place. Boyd highlighted the week, scoring 28 points adding eight rebounds in the win over Monmouth.
  • Shane Gibson, Sacred Heart, 6’2″, Jr., G: The NEC’s leading scorer, Gibson averaged 27.5 points per game for the week. In a win at St. Francis (PA), Gibson scored 26 points but showed his versatility with five steals and five rebounds. Gibson also had seven 3’s and 29 points against Robert Morris.

Julian Boyd Will Be A Key Player In LIU's Big Tilt Against Wagner

NEC Rookie-of-the-Week

Jalen Cannon, St. Francis (NY), 6’6″, Fr., F: Averaged 11.5 points and 12 rebounds as the Terriers swept their NEC opposition. St. Francis has won four of five since Cannon was inserted into the starting lineup.

Standings

Team, MAAC record, overall record:

LIU 7-0, 13-6
Wagner 6-1, 15-3
Central Connecticut 6-1, 9-8
Robert Morris 5-2, 14-6
St. Francis (NY) 5-2, 8-10
Sacred Heart 3-4, 9-11
St. Francis (PA) 3-4, 4-14
Quinnipiac 2-5, 9-9
Mount St. Mary’s 2-5, 4-14
Monmouth 2-5, 4-16
Bryant 1-6, 2-16
Fairleigh Dickinson 0-7, 1-17

 

Power Rankings

  1. LIU Brooklyn – Earned a sweep over FDU and Monmouth. Blackbirds have won 16 consecutive conference games dating back to last season and have captured 22 of their last 23 in the NEC. Julian Boyd had an outstanding week earning Co-Player of the Week honors. C.J. Garner, a junior guard, set career highs with nine rebounds against FDU and eight assists versus Monmouth. Read the rest of this entry »
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Checking In On… the NEC

Posted by rtmsf on December 23rd, 2011

Ray Floriani is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and NEC conferences.

 

Looking Back

  • Quick Recap: Relatively quiet time lately with exams finishing up. As we look towards the new year, the expected contenders: Robert Morris, Central Connecticut and LIU, are on top … with a surprise. St. Francis (PA), which played eight home games to date, had both their NEC games in friendly confines and the Red Flash won both contests to join the aforementioned trio on top of the conference standings. Wagner and Quinnipiac, certain to be factors, lead the next group. All of this will begin to get sorted out in earnest when 2012 arrives and conference play heats up.
  • Player of the Week: Ben Mockford, St. Francis (NY), So., guardKnocked down seven 3-pointers in the Terriers’s win at Howard. Deadly from beyond the arc, Mockford paces the NEC with 3.3 treys per game.
  • Newcomer of the Week: Kyle Vinales, Central Connecticut, Fr.  guardVinales captured his fifth award in six weeks. Scored a game-high 27 points in 37 minutes in a loss at Northwestern. The 6’1″ Vinales has scored at least 24 points on six occasions to date.

Robert Morris's Andrew Toole Has His Team On Top Of The NEC Standings

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Checking In On… the NEC

Posted by rtmsf on December 9th, 2011

Ray Floriani is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and NEC conferences.

 

Looking Back

The pre-2012 portion of the Northeast Conference schedule didn’t give us a whole lot to discern, with a couple of exceptions. Defending conference champ Long Island will once again be a tough out for rival foes. Central Connecticut State appears to be a threat with more players stepping up to help standout guard Ken Horton. Robert Morris has its young talent playing well and Wagner, despite having the “luck” to open the conference season at LIU, gave the host Blackbirds all they could handle. At the start of the season, I labeled Wagner (7-2) as a dark horse for the NEC title. Now, they are getting referenced in the same sentence as “contender.”

Leading Off: On December 6, Wagner defeated a talented Hofstra squad (58-43) in Staten Island, signaling another solid non-conference win for Danny Hurley and company. Meanwhile, King Rice earned win number one on the season as Monmouth nipped Navy (69-67) in Annapolis on Tuesday.

Player of the Week:  Ken Horton, 6’8″ Sr. F, Central Connecticut State – Has averaged 31 points in the Blue Devils’ two NEC games so far, highlighted by an impressive 32-point outburst against Bryant. Horton was dangerously effective inside (nine rebounds) and out (6 of 10 from three).

Rookie of the Week: Lucky Jones, 6’5″ Fr.  G/F., Robert Morris – Jones averaged 12.0 points and 6.5 rebounds in the Colonials’ two wins. Ironically, a product of New Jersey and famed high school national power St. Anthony’s, Jones face off against the Garden State’s two NEC schools.

Central Connecticut State's Ken Horton is averaging a conference-best 22.5 points per game so far this season (ccsubluedevils.com)

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RTC Conference Primers: #20 – Northeast Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on October 17th, 2011

Ray Floriani is the RTC correspondent for the NEC and MAAC.

Reader’s Take I

Top Storylines

  • Coaches Enjoy Honors: In September, Mount St. Mary’s coach Robert Burke coached in the Congressional County All-Star Classic. Burke coached a team of members of Congress while George Washington mentor Mike Lonergan guided a team of lobbyists.  The game was at GW’s Smith Center. Hopefully Burke did not allow his ‘club’ a lengthy recess. In other news, Wagner assistant Bobby Hurley was inducted into the Duke University Hall of Fame in September. Hurley scored over 1,700 points, handed out an NCAA record 1,076 assists and led Duke to two national titles during his playing days (19989-93).
  • A Long-Awaited Repeat In The NEC? Long Island is attempting to become the first NEC school in nearly two decades to successfully defend its conference title. The last? Current  MAAC  member Rider, which captured the NEC crown in 1993 and 1994.

Can LIU Capture the Blackbird Magic Again? (credit: NY Post)

  • The Numbers Game: Among starters lost, FDU and Quinnipiac lead the way with three each. It’s a matter of perception. FDU, coming off a five-win season, can look at this as a fresh start. Quinnipiac, a 22-win team from a season ago, has spots to replace. Tom Moore has options as he has the Bobcats primed for another run. The program with the least amount of starters lost? Wagner. The Seahawks, coming off an encouraging 9-9 conference slate good for a sixth-place tie, have every starter back on board.
  • Sacred Heart Mourns Loss Of Former Star: On a sad note, Sacred Heart is mourning the passing of Chauncey Hardy, a prolific player for the Pioneers from 2006-10. Hardy scored over 1,200 points during his Sacred Heart career and was playing professionally overseas in Romania at the time of his tragic death, which came after Hardy was assaulted in a pub.

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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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Morning Five: 05.10.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on May 10th, 2011

  1. As you’ve no doubt heard by now, Maryland has itself a new head coachMark Turgeon may not be the sexy name that many Terp fans were hoping for, but the fact of the matter is that the guy has throughout his career put a consistently solid product on the floor regardless of talent.  His teams are tough-minded, they play sticky defense, and they win — he averaged 24 wins per year at Texas A&M and 22 wins in his last four seasons at Wichita State.  Not everyone agrees, but the general consensus is that Maryland AD Kevin Anderson made a solid if not spectacular hire, but that Turgeon’s chops will ultimately be earned by how well he learns to recruit in the fecund DC/Baltimore prep basketball scene.  We certainly won’t disagree with that, but if Turgeon’s recruiting matches his demonstrated competitiveness, the rest of the ACC is not going to enjoy visiting College Park any more than it did much of the last twenty years — the only difference is that instead of wondering how they scored 75 points and lost by double figures, visiting teams will come out perplexed in how they ended up with bloodied noses, bruises all over their bodies, and put up only 50.
  2. CBS, CBS, CBS… what on earth are you doing?  Last week it was prematurely reported that Gus Johnson was leaving CBS Sports (and by proxy, the NCAA Tournament), when in reality he had only received an offer from Fox Sports that CBS would have an opportunity to match.  Many, ourselves included, presumed that CBS would make the smart decision and keep Gus, the vox populi of college basketball, on board.  And this is why we weren’t business majors… because CBS did no such thing.  The Blinking Eye network let him walk (apparently, politics, in addition to dollars, was involved), and Fox Sports and the NFL are the major beneficiaries.  All we know is that Pac-12 games just got 1000% more interesting next season, and it’s not because Jorge Gutierrez and Trent Lockett are returning to school.  For a very insightful piece examining the ins and outs of  his employment situation, read Awful Announcing’s excellent analysis on the paradox of Gus Johnson here.
  3. We stumbled across this interesting post from Rock Chalk Talk about the state of college basketball, at least as viewed from a partisan Kansas writer.  While we understand where he’s coming from in terms of this statement: “We’re at a point now where the best teams still get the best talent, but they never become a team,” we have trouble seeing the natural consequence of parity as a bad thing.  The beauty of the NCAA Tournament (along with the World Cup and the NFL Playoffs, to name two other worldwide favorites) is that top seeds can be beaten if they don’t bring their absolute best game every given night; underdogs and upsets are what keep the casual fans interested.  He seems to fail to recognize that the transformation of the NCAA Tournament to March Madness began in the 1980s when NC State (1983), Villanova (1985) and his very own Kansas Jayhawks (1988) captured the imagination of American sports fans with their rags-to-riches Cinderella stories.  While it’s true that the quality of college basketball has been hurt by the onslaught of early entries to the NBA Draft every single spring, that problem is not a recent phenomenon.  It began nearly twenty years ago and  accelerated throughout the 1990s to the point where the top 8-10 high school players each year were skipping college altogether by the middle of last decade, thereby hurting the overall product.  The piece makes some good points, but it reads a bit like someone decrying parity and a bad product to explain his team’s #1 seed meltdowns to Cinderellas prior to the Final Four the last two years.
  4. Robert Morris sophomore guard Karon Abraham was suspended for the entire 2011-12 season as a result of his second alcohol offense (underage drinking) in the last six months (he also had a DUI conviction last November).  According to head coach Andy Toole, the Colonials’ best player was “shocked” by this decision, and given that he will not be allowed to work out with the team next season, we have to wonder if he’ll consider transferring to another school that will give him  an opportunity to stay on the court (even as just a practice player in 2011-12).  He definitely needs to get his head on straight here, but RMU’s decision is punitive enough to make us think that he might consider it.
  5. VCU head coach Shaka Smart continues to live the dream, fresh off his first Final Four appearance and a nice contract extension, by throwing out the first pitch in a weekend game between the Cubs and Reds at Wrigley Field.  Perhaps sensing that he hadn’t done enough, he also sang Take Me Out to the Ballgame during the seventh inning stretch.  Let’s hope he hangs on to his day job for a little longer, eh?

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Around The Blogosphere: March 10, 2011 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on March 10th, 2011

If you are interested in participating in our ATB2 feature, send in your submissions to rushthecourt@gmail.com. We will add to this post throughout the day as the submissions come in so keep on sending them.

Top 25 Games

  • #15 St. John’s 65, Rutgers 63: “St. John’s rode a controversial end to move into the next round of the Big East Tournament, defeating Rutgers 65-63 in a game filled with poor shooting. But the game will be marked by its controversial ending.” (Rumble in the Garden)
  • #18 UConn 79, Georgetown 62: “What is left to say? Georgetown fans knew this team was heavily reliant on Chris Wright, media members and statisticians knew it as well. Clearly, after our fourth straight defeat without Wright, both the Georgetown players and coaches know it even better than the rest of us. Connecticut beat the Hoyas 79-62 in a game that was never really in question. Kemba Walker scored 28 points to lead the Huskies, who also got plenty of help from Jeremy Lamb, Shabazz Napier and Jamaal Coombs-McDaniel. Jason Clark and Austin Freeman led the Hoyas with 23 and 20 points respectively, but it wasn’t nearly enough, as the Hoyas were outhustled, outmanned, and outclassed in Madison Square Garden.” (Casual Hoya)

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Set Your Tivo: 03.09.11

Posted by Brian Otskey on March 9th, 2011

***** – quit your job and divorce your wife if that’s what it takes to watch this game live
**** – best watched live, but if you must, tivo and watch it tonight as soon as you get home
*** – set your tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2013
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

Brian Otskey is an RTC contributor.

Only two auto-bids go out tonight, but a couple of interesting games from the Big East are also on the slate. All rankings from RTC and all times Eastern.

Big East Second Round (at New York, NY): #18 Connecticut vs. Georgetown – 12 pm on ESPN (***)

He and His Droogs Dispatched DePaul Last Night; Tonight, Alex Descends Into MSG For a Battle With the Hoyas

The Huskies drew a pretty good bracket by Big East standards, getting bottom feeder DePaul in the first round and a depleted Georgetown team this afternoon. Connecticut ended its winless drought in this tournament, blowing out DePaul yesterday for their first Big East Tournament win since 2005. Alex Oriakhi had 13 points and 19 rebounds, making his presence known at the start of the tournament after a regular season full of inconsistency. Kemba Walker added 26/7/5 as the Huskies cruised. Things get considerably tougher today against Georgetown, but the Hoyas are a reeling squad. They’ve lost four of their past five games, including a loss to UConn, and have not looked competitive since senior point guard Chris Wright went down with a broken hand. The Hoyas haven’t scored more than 51 points in three games without Wright and will have to play a strong defensive game if they want to knock off the Huskies.

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O26 Primers: America East, Missouri Valley, and Northeast Conference Tourneys

Posted by KDoyle on March 3rd, 2011

RTC’s Kevin Doyle, author of the weekly column, The Other 26, and the Patriot League Correspondent, will be providing conference tournament previews for all non-BCS conferences.

Three more conferences get underway this evening with teams in the America East and NEC all gunning for the coveted automatic-bid to the Tournament, while the Missouri Valley is vying to send two teams to the Dance. Boston University is all of a sudden the favorite to win the America East with the uncertainty of Evan Fjeld‘s ankle, while Missouri State and Long Island are the favorites in their respective leagues. Something tells me though that the Wichita State Shockers will be looking for vengeance following their two losses to the Bears earlier this year.

America East

The Favorite: Vermont appears to be the favorite, but a lot depends on the status of Evan Fjeld’s ankle that he injured in UVM’s final regular season game against Boston University. In what very well could be the America East championship game, BU went on to defeat the Catamounts in overtime. Allison Shepherd told John Fantino of the Burlington Free Press Blog that: “[Fjeld] is receiving daily care and treatment for the injury. We will have a better idea regarding his playing status for the upcoming America East tournament as the weekend approaches.” Something tells me that even if Fjeld and his ‘Stache are able to go, he will not be at 100%. I like Boston University.

Dark Horse: Behind senior Tim Ambrose, Albany is a team that has come on strong as of late and is capable of making a run in the A-East tournament. The Great Danes have won four straight to end the regular season, but getting by Stony Brook will be no easy task in the first round.

Who’s Hot: Boston University has not lost in February and is 8-0 during the month. They defeated Vermont to conclude the regular season and are flying high with John Holland—arguably the league’s best player—leading the way.

Player to Watch: John Holland has been a staple in BU’s rotation since the day he stepped on campus. The senior has averaged double-figures in scoring for all four years, and his 19.2 points a game this year is tops in the league.

First-Round Upset: Hartford over Maine. The Black Bears were an intriguing team and story to follow early on in the season. They beat a solid Penn State team and began league play with an 8-1 record, but since then they have fallen flat on their faces. Although their date with Hartford is technically not in the first round—the America East essentially has a play-in game between the #8 and #9 seeds to begin the tournament—fourth seeded Maine will have their hands full with Hartford who has already beaten them twice.

How’d They Fare? As a 16 seed last year, Vermont could not handle the athleticism or shooting ability of Syracuse as they lost 79-56.

Interesting Fact: Not an interesting fact, but simply one of my favorite NCAA Tournament highlights of all-time:

Easily the best part of the clip is Tom Brennan’s reaction after T.J. Sorrentine swishes home the three from about 35 feet away, and if you look even further past Brennan the reaction of the guys sitting on press row are priceless too. This is what makes March so Mad!

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