NEC Preview: Opening Day
Every hour it seems more and more college hoops programs are reporting positive tests within their teams or traveling parties, causing games to be canceled, postponed, rescheduled, etc. However, it looks like we are on the eve of college basketball season!
Last season I picked a NEC non-conference games to preview each week, and it was a lot of fun. I'll be doing that again this year, though it's made difficult by the fact that games are seemingly being scheduled (or announced) last minute.
Who knows what the weekend will bring, so let's take a look at a few games that are scheduled to be played on "opening day", Wednesday.
As usual, all point spreads are per Kenpom.
Games 2 Watch
Mount St. Mary's (-3) at Morgan St., Noon, Morgan St.'s athletic website
According to the Game Notes on Mount St. Mary's website, probable starters are listed as: Damian Chong Qui, Jalen Gibbs, Mezie Offurum, Nana Opoku, and Malik Jefferson. Both DCQ (37%) and Gibbs (33%) made more than 37 three-pointers last season, while Opoku shot it at a 32% clip but didn't take many (57 attempts). Jefferson is a non-shooter, and Offurum was just 4 for 19 in two seasons at George Washington. It will be interesting to see how frequently Engelstad plays these five together, and what it looks like.
Morgan St., coached by former Georgetown HC Kevin Broadus, brought in a bunch of high major talent during the offseason in UNLV transfer Troy Baxter, Cincinnati transfer Trevor Moore, St. Joe's transfer Troy Holston, Wake Forest transfer Sharone Wright, Jacksonville St. transfer De'Torrion Ware, and former Florida State commit Nassem Khalid. At last update, Broadus was awaiting on waivers for Moore, Wright, and Ware, but if those have been received, the Bears might be one of the best teams in the MEAC.
Stony Brook at Bryant (+1), 1pm, NEC Front Row
Right now, I think Bryant is the most fascinating team in the Northeast Conference. How is Grasso going to work all those new players into the rotation? Will they be one of the more up-tempo teams in the conference? Will they defend? Is there enough shooting? So many questions!
Stony Brook lost a ton to transfer off a team that finished 20-13 (10-6 in the America East), ultimately losing to Hartford in the AE Quarterfinals. Elijah Olaniyi (Miami), Makale Foreman (California) and Andrew Garcia (Georgia) were Geno Ford's best three players in his first season at SBU, and all left as grad transfers, as did three others. Ford re-loaded with a couple transfers of his own; Tykei Greene, who averaged 9.7 points and 4.6 rebounds for Manhattan last season, Frankie Policelli who began his career at Dayton, Omar Habwe, who left the Mount as a grad transfer, and Jaden Sayles from Akron, who is awaiting a waiver.
Fairleigh Dickinson (-1) at Quinnipiac, 4pm, ESPN3
One of the frontrunners to win the NEC Title, the Knights are a veteran squad with plenty of firepower yet have a major question mark up front; will Herenda opt for playing four guards with Elyjah Williams in the middle? Or will someone like Marc Dadika or Oscar Okeke step up?
Baker Dunleavy lost two of the MAAC's best players in Kevin Marfo (Texas A&M) and Rich Kelly (Boston College), though they do return 7 rotation players include point guard Tyrese Williams, who averaged close to 10 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists per game last season. Quinnipiac has struggled defensively during Dunleavy's tenure at head coach, so there could be a lot of points up in this one.