No. 51: St. John’s Red Storm (Last month: 58)
Record: 11–7, 4–4 in Big East.
They’ve had some impressive wins — that stretch to start the Big East slate led to some happy press clippings — but they’ve been ground down to .500 in the conference through a much tougher schedule. Because this is the Big East, it doesn’t get much easier: KenPom predicts the Red Storm will lose seven of their next eight. Right now, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has them as a No. 10 seed, but losing seven of their next eight will not keep them there.
No. 125: Long Island Blackbirds (Last month: 186)
Record: 14–5, 6–2 in the NEC.
Our dream has long been to attend an NEC championship game, broadcast on national television, with an NCAA tournament bid on the line, at one of the home courts in NYC. (The NEC tournament lets the higher seed host each conference tourney game.) The Blackbirds are our best bet for this. They’re alone in first place in the NEC and had won eight in a row before losing to St. Francis (Pennsylvania) on Saturday. Lunardi has Long Island not only in the tournament, but with the No. 15 seed, playing Connecticut. Go LIU!
No. 202: Columbia Lions (Last month: 238)
Record: 11–5, 2–0 in the Ivy League.
Not bad, chaps! The Lions have won eight of their last nine, including a home-and-home sweep of Cornell over the last fortnight. They’re in first place in the Ivy, which is important, because the Ivy League is that snotty conference that refuses to have a conference tournament. Still, the league is tougher than it usually is this year, thanks to Harvard, which KenPom actually lists as the 95th best team in the country. (That’s better than Memphis, Virginia, and Arkansas.) The Lions will find out how they match up to the Crimson this Friday night.
No. 218: Wagner Seahawks (Last month: 259)
Record: 9–10, 5–3 in the NEC.
Dan Hurley, who is known to some as Mr. Hurley, has led the Seahawks to nine wins this year, already four more than they had all of last year. They’re also fourth in the NEC, which means they could conceivably host a conference tourney game. Though there’s no way we’re going to that.
No. 252: St. Francis Terriers (Last month: 205)
Record: 8–11, 3–5 in the NEC.
Last month, the Terriers were the charmed NYC team, even projected as the NEC champ. It has gone bad since then. They’ve lost eight of ten to fall into ninth in the conference. That’s particularly bad, because only the top eight NEC teams make the league tourney. St. Francis remains one of the few teams in college basketball that has never made the NCAA Tournament. It’s looking like it’s not their year, again.
No.284: Fordham Rams (Last month: 228)
Record: 6–11, 0–5 in the Atlantic-10.
When we last checked in on the Rams, they were 5–4, over .500. Over .500! They were also coming off a win over St. John’s and undergoing a radical transformation from one of the worst hoops organizations in college sport to something resembling respectability. Since then? They’re 1–10. Oops. The Atlantic-10 is not one of the best conferences in the country. But in the Rams’ last 38 conference games, they are 1–37. NOT GOOD.