NEC Reset: Looking Back at Week 1
Man, it's so great to have college hoops back in our life. Writing and talking about what happened on the court is much more fun that writing about what might (or will) happen.
Last week, there were 18 games played by Northeast Conference teams, with the NEC finishing the week 5-13 (3-13 against D1 teams).
11/6- Central Connecticut 75, #237 Hartford 68
Having an NEC team picked to finish in the middle of the pack going on the road and beating the projected second best team in the America East is a win all-around. This was the biggest upset so far for the NEC (Kenpom had Hartford -10).
11/9- LIU Brooklyn 83, #199 Brown 81
Sure, this was a home game, and maybe Brown isn't as good as we expected (they lost to NJIT over the weekend as well), but the Blackbirds are still trying to figure out how to replace Joel Hernandez, and they look really good doing it. Seeing Jashaun Agosto knock down two free throws with :01 remaining to win it was great.
11/9- St. Francis U. 80, #350 Morgan St. 60
Yeah, the Red Flash did what they were supposed to, as Kenpom as them as a 17-point favorite at home against one of the weaker teams in the country. But that's the point right? Good teams do what they're supposed to do, and considering both Isaiah Blackmon and Andre Wolford were limited after both returning from injuries, fans should be thrilled after this one.
11/10- #68 Georgetown 85, Central Connecticut 78
11/11- #69 Boston College 74, St. Francis Brooklyn 69
Yes, they were losses, but the Power Conference teams struggled with CCSU and SFC, and both teams should find those games as something to build off of.
TBDD NEC Rankings, Week 1:
1. St. Francis University (1-1): KP 167; TR 156
The Red Flash did nothing to suggest they aren't in a tier of their own for the time being; losing by 15 at Buffalo (which beat West Virginia over the weekend) is not a concern, especially considering Blackmon and Wolford were both out with injuries. Mark Flagg looked much improved up front, and Myles Thompson might be one of the better freshmen in the league. I firmly believe this could be a historic season in Loretto.
2. LIU Brooklyn (2-0): KP 276; TR 209
I'm all in on the Blackbirds. I got a chance to watch the majority of their win over Brown, and man I just see a team with so many different offensive options; that backcourt of Agosto and Julian Batts is so fun, and Ty Flowers looks like he can be a matchup nightmare in this league. And don't forget about Raiquan Clark, who is so good as a grab-and-go 4, or a big 3.
3. Fairleigh Dickinson (0-1): KP 278; TR 271
I was uber-high on FDU heading into the season, so I can't overreact after one blow-out loss at a Big Ten school, even if that school is Rutgers. Unfortunately the Knights' next two games are against non-D1s, so we won't truly find out more about this team until 11/21 at #151 Princeton.
4. Central Connecticut St. (1-1): KP 282; TR 272
Yeah, yeah, I'm bias. Got it. But seriously, how could you have watched the Blue Devils this season and not have come away impressed? They beat Hartford by dominating the paint, then they hung in with Georgetown by knocking down 12 three-pointers. Maybe it's a mirage; or maybe this team is more talented than we expected.
5. Wagner (0-2): KP 226; TR 236
A big disagreement with the computers here, both of which think Wagner is still the 2nd or 3rd best team in the league. After getting blown out at Seton Hall, they took UMass-Lowell to overtime before eventually dropping an 88-84 decision. I was lucky enough to watch that game, and I just came away unimpressed; especially when you consider they allowed 1.16 PPP to a UMass-Lowell team replacing its best two players. I'm not convinced Romone Saunders is a >30% usage guy, and they need someone to step up at point guard.
6. Robert Morris (0-2): KP 269; TR 224
The Colonials were heavy underdogs in their games at #61 USC and #169 Missouri St., though they did keep the Missouri St. game close until late in the second half. Obviously Andy Toole is as good a coach as anyone, but my big concern is; can they score? They are averaging ~0.8 PPP through two games, and they have an eFG% of 38%.
7. St. Francis Brooklyn (1-1): KP 314; TR 296
Sure, why not sneak the Terriers into the 3rd tier? After beating something called Medgar-Evars by 50, Glenn Braica's crew hung with Boston College until the final minutes. Scoring 1.03 PPP against an ACC team is no small feat, and if Chancey Hawkins can develop into a 3rd scoring option, this team could surprise.
8. Bryant (0-2): KP 330; TR 326
My big question coming into the season for the Bulldogs was; can this team defend? Yeah, Ikenna Ndugba has been out with an injury, but Bryant allowed 1.25 PPP against a rebuilding Rhode Island team, then followed it up by allowing 1.13 PPP against #251 Seattle in a 82-59 loss. Adam Grant has really struggled so far (2 for 15 from three), and there is no rotation player with an O-Rating > 100. I still believe in the talent, and do not think they are the worst team in the league like the computers do, but you'd like to see some results.
*9. Sacred Heart (0-1): KP 326; TR 318
I almost moved the Pioneers up above Bryant, but decided that I wanted to see it one more time. Going on the road and giving #205 Holy Cross all they could handle was a good look, especially considering Anthony Latina is relying on newcomers at a number of spots. Kareem Ozier scored 23 in his debut, and Sean Hoehn will be really good all year. The 1.37 PPP allowed is concerning, however, as are the 20 turnovers.
10. Mount St. Mary's (0-2): KP 328; TR 327
The Mount hung with North Carolina St. for a half, then started out hot at #152 Hofstra before falling 79-61. Drake transfer Jalen Gibbs looks to be exactly the kind of high usage guy Dan Engelstad needs, and freshman Vado Morse may be in the conversation for All-Rookie team. However, shooting 51% from the free throw line isn't helping matters, and they only grabbed three offensive rebounds against Hofstra. I don't think they will be a pushover, however.
11/13: LIU Brooklyn at #221 Fairfield: I love this Blackbirds team. Go beat a MAAC school.
11/14: #203 Saint Peter's at Bryant: The battle of two CCSU Head Coach finalists, as Shaheen Holloway takes on Jared Grasso. The home-opener for the Bulldogs, it will be interesting to see what the atmosphere will be like.
11/16: St. Francis U. at #42 UCLA: It could happen.
11/16: Central Connecticut St. vs. #193 Austin Peay (in Jamaica): The Govs are always a menace in the OVC. Kenpom has Austin Peay -4. Could be a good one.
11/17: Wagner at #221 Fairfield: The Seahawks could use a strong showing, and the MAAC school could be a nice barometer.
11/18: Sacred Heart vs. 305 UMass-Lowell: This is the third game of a three-day round-robin tournament, and is the best opportunity for the Pioneers to pick up a win.