With NEC rivalry week kicking into high gear there are a number of teams moving in different directions. LIU Brooklyn got a key win last night over St. Francis (NY) and it was pretty typical for the Blackbirds. They played decent enough defense that their excellent offense was able to control the game. But there are a lot of NEC teams moving in different directions. Let’s take a look at trends for Quinnipiac, Central Connecticut and Robert Morris and see the good and the bad.
St. Francis (NY) solidified its position in second place in the NEC with a 73-67 victory over Central Connecticut State on Thursday in Brooklyn Heights as the team continues to get contributions from every place on the court.
St. Francis (NY) is the surprise of the NEC season. After upsetting Robert Morris at the Sewall Center, in pretty convincing fashion, the Terriers sit tied for second place with Wagner. Both of those teams are hanging out right behind LIU Brooklyn in the traditional standings. The tempo-free standings though continue to make us wonder if this is all a mirage.
Winning at Robert Morris was going to be a difficult task for LIU Brooklyn. The Colonials are one of the more talented teams in the NEC and guard Velton Jones has been on a roll lately. It was Jones and the rest of the RMU backcourt that outplayed Jason Brickman, C.J. Garner and Michael Culpo and led the Colonials to a 75-66 win that tightened up the NEC race.
The fight between Time Warner and MSG has been going for almost a month now as the cable television company and home of the NBA’s New York Knicks argue over just how much their programming is worth. For college basketball fans it hasn’t been that big of a deal, until tonight. If you don’t have MSG you can’t watch possibly the biggest NEC showdown of the early season – Robert Morris vs. LIU Brooklyn.
Coming into NEC play it looked like the Robert Morris Colonials were one of the teams to beat. Even without Karon Abraham, Andrew Toole had built a team that managed to take out La Salle, Duquesne and Ohio during non-conference play. Then NEC play started and things got a bit dicier, having just escaped Monmouth 81-73 in overtime, the Colonials sit at 6-2 in the conference with LIU Brooklyn and St. Francis (NY) coming to visit this week. Andrew Chiappazzi of ColonialsCorner.com offered his insight into RMU and what has happened this season.
It’s probably no surprise to observers of the NEC that Wagner continues to lead these rankings. Yes, LIU Brooklyn is undefeated, but the Blackbirds haven’t had the convincing margins that the Seahawks have had this season. As a caveat though it’s worth noting that Wagner has played the easiest conference schedule amongst the contenders. Overall, Sacred Heart has played the most difficult slate thus far and Mount St. Mary’s the easiest.
The MAAC wasn’t the only conference with thrilling games last night. The NEC race continued with another six games and two teams are starting to emerge as the conference favorites. The surprising thing is that one isn’t Robert Morris. In the biggest upset of the night the Colonials lost at home to Quinnipiac.
Most people think that the NEC is going to be a four-team race between Wagner, Robert Morris, Long Island and Central Connecticut State. I’m here to say that the numbers say they’re wrong. This is really a two-team race between the Seahawks and the Colonials and everyone else is battling for third place. Alright, maybe that’s a bit an overstatement, but not much.
This afternoon on Twitter I got asked about the Value Added rankings for the NEC. Long Island is the defending champion and is going to be returning a number of players, including 6’7 forward Julian Boyd, from a team that ranked 118th in Ken Pomeroy’s rankings last season and went 27-6 (16-2). Thus the Blackbirds should be the favorite again in 2011-12, right? Not so fast suggests value added.