Monday, January 04, 2010

Who is the Favorite?

Let's take a look at all 12 NEC teams and their performances to date - and try to determine who should be the favorite right now. All teams have now played two conference games and most of the non-conference schedule is complete, so we have a pretty good body of work to base things upon. We'll start from what we think is the bottom and work our way up.

Bryant (0-14, 0-2) - Without a win we can't expect anything less. This is the first year that Bryant's games actually count in the league standings. It seems as if the rest of the NEC is the most happy about it.

Wagner (2-12, 0-2) - The Seahawks haven't been very good at all this year. I thought that Mike Deane might find a way to build on the end of last season, but it hasn't happened yet. The two wins are over Jackson State and St. Peter's. Hard to see them really forcing their way into the playoff picture.

Fairleigh Dickinson (2-12, 1-1) - Without the upset over Sacred Heart over the weekend, it might have been hard to put them above Wagner. That win snapped a ten-game losing streak. So the Knights might be ahead of Wagner just because of that result. Not really expected to compete.

St. Francis NY (3-8, 1-1) - The Terriers are one of nine teams fighting for eight playoff spots and when it is all said and done might be one of three fighting for the last spot. St. Francis has been competitive with those you'd expect them to be competitive with but hasn't come away with a lot of victories. The league victory is over Bryant.

St. Francis PA (4-9, 2-0) - At 2-0 maybe we're not giving them enough credit. Certainly, this isn't the Red Flash team we've seen the last few years. But should we be more swayed by the non-conference schedule which has included some bad losses or the two-game NEC home sweep of Wagner and Mt. St. Mary's at the start of November.  We're taking a wait and see attitude.

Long Island (4-8, 2-0) - We're taking a wait and see approach with the Blackbirds as well. The Blackbirds have dropped five in a row and have the potential to be really good with freshman Jamal Olasewere and Kenny Onyechi becoming solid contributors. The upside is there but we're not sure what we're going to get based on some recent sluggish efforts.

Mount St. Mary's (3-10, 0-2) - The preseason favorite has been far from it in the early going. Will some recent solid efforts lead to some sort of roll. At some point they've got to get a positive result. The schedule remains tough with two more NEC road games this week. But if they can keep their heads above water and get hot, they finish with 9 of 14 at home, including the last four.

Monmouth (5-9, 1-1) - This team has done the most to prove itself in the early going and move up the ladder of possibilities. Back to back wins over a good Texas A&M Corpus Christi squad and Quinnipiac have intensified the belief.  Likely to be favorites in their next three league games before playing at the defending champ a week form Saturday.

Sacred Heart (8-5, 1-1) - A winning record at this point gets you some respect in the NEC. It isn't like they've been beating world beaters (best win is probably Stony Brook) but they are winning and that has to be adding confidence to the equation.

Robert Morris (6-7, 2-0) - Developing Offensively, the defending champ can get to .500 with a win over Morgan State tonight. Got a pair of scrappy NEC wins in December which may greatly benefit them later on this season, when they figure to be playing their best basketball.

Quinnipiac (6-6, 1-1) Unlike many of its counterparts, the Bobcats don't really play a big-name schedule. Did play two A-10 teams in UMASS and Rhode Island but shockingly no one from a BCS school. The loss to Monmouth was a surprise. I think they are the team everyone expects to win it from here. But I'm not convinced they have all the parts yet, but they're definitely getting close.

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