Big East M5: 01.24.13 Edition

Posted by Dan Lyons on January 24th, 2013

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  1. Just days removed from being the top ranked team in the nation, Louisville has fallen on tough times.  Back to back losses to Syracuse and Villanova has Rick Pitino noticeably upset about his team’s play.  After the Villanova loss, his venom was directed towards the Cardinals’ free throw shooting, at the expense of a pair of basketball stars:  “It was really a simple answer to why we lost.  Basically we were Dwight Howard or Shaquille O’Neal. We came down we had a six-point lead and it could have been eight. Could have kept coming down and extending it but our free throws were a turnover. Very simple answer for why we lost. Our foul shooting was despicable.” Despite the two losses, Louisville can still be considered the class of the conference, and we know that Pitino is coaching his team with March in mind.  That being said, with both Chane Behanan and Montrezl Harris shooting ~50% from the line, the Cardinals may have a tough time closing out savvy teams.
  2. Moving forward, the game may say more about Villanova than it does Louisville.  The Wildcats have struggled to notch conference wins to this point, but they’ve been knocking on the door.  Against the Cardinals, they just decided to kick it down.  Where in previous games against Pitt and Providence, Villanova was unable to put away its opponent, against Louisville the Wildcats applied the pressure while playing from behind, and with an assist from the Cardinals’ poor free throw shooting, Nova finally stole one.  The Wildcats have a chance to make another big statement against Syracuse on Saturday morning.  Another strong performance would go a long way towards getting Villanova back into NCAA Tournament talks.
  3. I wouldn’t have guessed Buzz Williams as the Big East coach to utilize long-running extended metaphors to describe his team from season to season, but here we are.  Marquette‘s a hard team to pin down.  They haven’t looked awfully impressive in any game this season.  It took overtime to beat Pittsburgh and UConn, they snuck by Georgetown in a classic Hoya 49-48 game, and they only topped Seton Hall by seven.  However, they only have one loss in league play, in overtime against Cincinnati, and the Golden Eagles find themselves in second place, 1.5 games behind Syracuse.  Some teams have played below expectations, others have surpassed them.  Marquette seems to be right where it should be, it just hasn’t been an easy path taken.
  4. Scott Martin‘s six year Notre Dame career may be coming to a close.  The oft-banged up Irish captain has struggled to regain form after offseason ACL and meniscus repair, and has been shut down for the time being.  Mike Brey says that it’s all hands on deck to try to find a replacement for Martin: “But I think I’m going into it thinking, we’re looking at everybody in a gold (practice) shirt – Zach (Auguste), Austin (Burgett), (Garrick Sherman), Tom Knight. We’re going to do it today, we’re going to do it tomorrow, and we’re probably going to do it the first half Saturday to see, what do we have?”  Martin’s scoring has dipped a bit this season, but he’s a solid player who is especially dangerous with his .463 mark from three-point range.  More than anything, the Irish will miss Martin’s consistency, and the team needs it more now than ever.  Hopefully Martin is able to come back from this most recent issue.
  5. UConn freshman Omar Calhoun was not only lucky enough to be blessed with tremendous skill on the court, but he also has two parents who have a unique perspective on what it takes to succeed off of it.  Calhoun’s father, Omar Sr., played at St. Francis College before leaving the game when Omar Jr. was born.  His mother, Semara Breland, was a star in high school on track to receive multiple scholarship offers before she left the game as a Junior.  Both stayed in school and received their college degrees while raising Omar and his sister Sierra, a good player in her own right, and that experience has been invaluable in guiding their kids to making good, informed choices with their basketball careers.
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2012-13 RTC Conference Primers: Northeast Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on October 26th, 2012

Ray Floriani is the RTC correspondent for the NEC.

Top Storylines

  • A Dynasty Grows In Brooklyn: It’s probably fitting that the Northeast Conference administrators chose the brand-new Barclays Center to host its annual media day. The NEC trophy has resided in this borough two straight years and LIU Brooklyn is planning on a unique ‘three-peat’. In the NEC’s 32-year history, no team has captured the title for three straight seasons. LIU Brooklyn is primed to finish the trifecta, but there will be stiff competition. Mainstays Robert Morris, Quinnipiac and Wagner will be in the hunt, and don’t forget ‘Battle of Brooklyn’ nemesis, St. Francis, just a mile away in Brooklyn Heights. The Terriers surprised last season and have enough returning talent to continue their recent success.
  • They’re Watching And Noticing: One of the significant aspects of the NEC’s improvement can be seen in coaching mobility. The higher-level schools are looking at and hiring mentors who prove they can X and O in this conference. Three years ago, Mike Rice went from Robert Morris to Rutgers. This past season, Duquesne chose LIU Brooklyn’s Jim Ferry, while Rhode Island, another Atlantic 10 school, obtained the services  of Danny Hurley, who quickly reversed fortunes at Wagner. As one coach noted at media day, “you have a group of good, aggressive coaches here who can build and run a program.” No surprise NEC coaches are on the big boys’ short lists.

LIU Brooklyn’s Julian Boyd Returns For NEC Favorite LIU Brooklyn. (AP)

  • Circle the Date: Wagner faces off against Temple, Syracuse, Penn, Princeton, Hofstra  and plays in the Cable Car Classic in Santa Clara. However, a relatively early game of note is January 10 at LIU Brooklyn. The Seahawks have a four-game losing streak in the series and Wagner coach Bashir Mason all too well knows the the road to the NEC title will go through Brooklyn.

Reader’s Take I

Early Power Rankings (last season’s record in parentheses)

  1. LIU Brooklyn (25-9, 16-2 NEC): The Blackbirds seemingly have it all: Experience, depth and recent success of enviable excellence. And talent. Start with returning NEC Player of the Year, Julian Boyd. The 6’7” senior forward put together a sterling season where he averaged 17 points and nine rebounds per contest, highlighted by 14 double-doubles. Jamal Olasewere, another first team All-NEC pick, returns up front as well. In the backcourt is junior Jason Brickman. Seventh nationally with 7.3 assists per outing, Brickman has drawn praise from rival coaches for his passing ability and expertise in controlling the game. Coach Jack Perri is now at the helm with Jim Ferry gone to Duquesne. The transition has been very smooth for the former LIU assistant. Winners of 34 of their last 36 conference games, the Blackbirds are NEC favorites. Read the rest of this entry »
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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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Checking In On… the NEC

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 24th, 2011

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

Looking Back

Early-season returns proved Long Island will have some challenges if they hope to defend their Northeast Conference crown. Wagner is off to a good start with a competitive loss at Connecticut being their only blemish so far. Robert Morris likewise, is fast out of the gate. Central Connecticut found some scorers which will make them a more dangerous club and take pressure off their senior do-everything star Ken Horton. Quinnipiac found another tough rebounder and will prove again to be a force under the glass. St. Francis (NY) lost at Seton Hall in overtime and the Terriers have struggled thanks to some late game  problems.

Player of the Week: Ike Izotam, 6’7” So. F, Quinnipiac – Averaged 16 points and 16 rebounds in a 2-0 week for the Bobcats. Izotam is tied for first in the nation and leads the NEC in rebounding with 14.0 per game.

Rookie of the Week: Kyle Vinales, 6’4” guard, Central Connecticut – In a 39 point outburst against Niagara, Vinales scored 29 in the first half, including 16 in the game’s opening six and a half minutes. That performance marked the most points by a player in this young season.

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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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Circle of March IV

Posted by rtmsf on March 4th, 2011

It was a busy night Thursday, and that meant thirteen more eliminations from the national title race.  You can start to see a few holes in the below Circle of March, as Jacksonville, High Point, St. Francis (NY), St. Francis (PA), Mt. St. Mary’s, Wagner, UT-Martin, Illinois State, VMI, UMBC, Southeast Missouri State, Lipscomb and Drake are now all looking forward to next season.  With last night’s losses, there are now 289 teams still alive for the 2011 national championship.

Coming next: Huge Friday night of eliminations, with 21 games knocking out one team or another.

 

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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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