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A look at a few tournament hopefuls

Iona College men's basketball head coach Tim Cluess

Iona College men's basketball head coach Tim Cluess talks to his team during a timeout in the first half. (Dec. 29, 2011) (Credit: James Escher)

There are over 20 Division I basketball programs in the NY Metro-Area. A vast majority play in one-bid conferences. Here's a look at a few or our local teams and what they likely need to do to earn a big to the NCAA Tournament.

Fairfield (17-12, 9-7 MAAC)
Quality wins: Iona, Rider, St. Joseph’s,
Bad losses: DePaul.
Remaining games: at Manhattan, at Marist.
Outlook: The Stags have won seven of its last nine games, with Iona and Rider being among the victims. Like most of the top five or six teams in the MAAC, Fairfield has a chance to be the last team standing. Saturday’s 58-50 loss to Albany hurt, but there is more than enough time to recover.

Hofstra (7-23, 4-13 CAA)
Quality wins: South Dakota State.
Bad losses: Monmouth.
Remaining games: at Towson.
Outlook: Hofstra has struggled through a tough season, including Wednesday's gut-wrenching 57-56 loss to Delaware on Senior Day.  But the Price can still can qualify for the NCAA Tournament if it wins the CAA tournament. That may sound like a tough hill to climb, but there are only seven teams eligible for the CAA tournament, which gives the Pride hope.

Iona (15-13, 9-7 MAAC)
Quality wins: Denver, Niagara, Fairfield, Loyola, Rider
Bad losses: St. Peter’s, Manhattan.
Remaining games: vs. Loyola, vs. Siena.
Iona played itself out of a chance to clinch the conference regular season title after dropping six of its last seven games. But that doesn’t mean the Gaels can’t flip a switch and make a run to the tournament title. Mo Mo Jones (23 ppg) and Sean Armand (17.4) are a potent scoring duo and have the ability to carry the Gaels. This is a team no one wants to see in the early rounds of the MAAC tournament.

LIU (15-13, 10-6 NEC)
Quality wins: Bryant,
Bad losses: Lamar, Moorehead State, St. Peter’s.
Remaining schedule: vs. Sacred Heart, vs. Quinnipiac.
Outlook: The Blackbirds opened the season on a four-game losing streak and later dropped six in a row. But they have since recovered and are in a three-way tie for third in the NEC. Winning homecourt advantage for the NEC tournament isn’t likely to happen due to a 60-57 loss to first-place Robert Morris. The Blackbirds could still host the NEC title game if they win their final two games and Robert Morris loses before the conference final.

Princeton (14-9, 7-2 Ivy)
Quality wins: Elon, Rider, Bucknell.
Bad losses: Fordham, Drexel.
Remaining schedule: vs. Harvard, vs. Dartmouth, at Yale, at Brown, at Pennsylvania.
Outlook: Princeton needs to win the Ivy regular season title to make the NCAA Tournament. It’s not a far-fetched thought. If the Tigers can win out, which would include a win over first-place Harvard (9-1), they would clinch at the very least a first-place tie with the Crimson. That would lead to a one-game playoff between Princeton and Harvard.

Rider (16-13, 10-6 MAAC)
Quality wins: Loyola, Iona, Niagara
Bad losses: Siena
Remaining games: at Niagara, at Canisius
Outlook: Wins over Loyola, Iona and Niagara proves Rider can play with the best in the MAAC. The Broncos have also proven they can lose to anyone in the conference. But Rider has won five of its last six games. They finish the season with two tough road games. Even if the Broncos drop both games they will be dangerous in the conference tournament.

Rutgers (13-13, 4-11 Big East)
Quality wins: Pittsburgh, St. John’s
Bad losses: St. Peter’s.
Remaining games: at Georgetown, vs. Marquette, at Seton Hall.
Outlook: Rutgers’ upset of Pittsburgh seems like it happened 100 years ago. The Scarlet Knights actually don’t have many bad losses, but they have been terrible in Big East play and have dropped nine of their last 10 games. It would take a miracle for the Scarlet Knights to make a run in the Big East tournament.

Seton Hall (14-15, 3-13)
Quality wins: Villanova.
Bad losses: None.
Remaining games: at Providence, Rutgers.
Outlook: It’s true the Pirates don’t have any bad losses. They beat everyone they were supposed to beat during the non-conference portion of their schedule. The problem is they have had an awful conference season. Seton Hall was 12-2 at one point this season. They have since fallen back to earth and have dropped 13 of their last 15 games. Like Rutgers, the Pirates will need a miracle in the Big East tournament.

St. John’s (16-11, 8-7 Big East)
Quality wins: Cincinnati, Notre Dame, Connecticut.
Bad losses: Rutgers, UNC-Asheville, San Francisco
Remaining schedule: at Providence, at Notre Dame, vs. Marquette.
Outlook: St. John’s didn’t do itself any favors with its 63-47 home loss to Pittsburgh on Sunday. Bad losses to Rutgers, UNC-Asheville and San Francisco combined with maybe two non-conference wins that could be considered quality (Detroit, Charleston) won’t sit well with the NCAA Tournament selection committee. The Red Storm will need to take at least two of its final three regular season games and win a two more in the Big East tournament for an at-large bid. If that doesn’t happen, St. John’s will need to win the tournament.

Stony Brook (21-6, 12-2 America East)
Quality wins: Canisius, Rider, Vermont, Boston University.
Bad losses: Sacred Heart
Remaining schedule: at Boston University, vs. Albany.
Outlook: Since the America East is a one-bid league, the Seawolves need to win the conference tournament to get a bid to the NCAA Tournament. The only consolation for the Seawolves would be a trip to the NIT, which would happen if it clinches the America East regular season championship outright. That will happen with a win at Boston University on Thursday.

Wagner (16-11, 10-6 NEC)
Quality wins: Princeton, LIU (2), Bryant.
Bad losses: Delaware State.
Remaining games: at FDU, at Monmouth.
Outlook: Wagner clearly has the talent to beat any team in the NEC, which means the Seahawks have what it takes to win the NEC tournament. It could happen if Jon Williams and Latif Rivers play like they are capable of playing. Help from Kenneth Ortiz and Marcus Burton will make Wagner that much more of a tough out.
 

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