It took Albany until March 31st to get its first win of the season in 2012. And then the Great Danes went all the way to the America East Tournament finals. What will 2013 look like?
It was the story that nobody talked about last season but was etched diretly into my forehead so that I'd remember it every morning and night when I brushed my teeth in front of the bathroom mirror: Albany barely avoided taking home Reverse Survivor top honors last year and then proceeded to put itself into a position to win the America East Tournament and move on to the NCAA Tournament. Alas, the Great Danes' totally backwards season wouldn't reach its awkward and impossible apex, falling to Stony Brook on Long Island in 14-8 fashion. It's a shame, really; Albany would've been a hell of a cult to join had they actually pulled it off.
Albany probably doesn't want to repeat their 2012 campaign this spring -- although, masochism isn't necessarily statutorily prohibited -- but the schedule may create some difficulty around that: The Great Danes are going hard in 2013, and their only reprieve is potentially the league slate.
Let's cut this apart.
Reverse Survivorship Odds Look Decent
February 16: @ Syracuse; February 23: @ Drexel; March 2: Yale; March 5: Massachusetts; March 9: @ Canisius; March 16: @ Bryant; March 23: Bucknell; March 26: @ Harvard; March 30: @ Binghamton
Look: If Albany can't drop Canisius out in Buffalo in early March, it looks as if the Great Danes may need to wait until late March, again, to get its first win of the year. Egad. Getting Syracuse, Drexel, Yale, and Massachusetts early in the year may allow for Albany to snag a win that they probably don't otherwise get in April when these teams have their legs under them, but the fact remains that those four opponents are all stronger -- at least right now in the vacuum of the offseason -- than the Great Danes. The Canisius date is huge; the Golden Griffins aren't all that different than Albany, and if the Great Danes can get the win, the complexion of Albany's season changes a bit simply because losing streaks are angry, violent diseases that are tough to cure.
Post-Canisius, if Albany can't get the win, things don't stack up all that well for the Great Danes either. Bryant, Bucknell, and Harvard are all dangerous teams that could pull out the boom stick and bop it atop Albany's head. Relief only comes with the America East opener against a Binghamton squad that the Great Danes edged 12-11 in 2012 (and kickstarted the team's push through its league slate).
February 16: @ Syracuse; February 23: @ Drexel; March 2: Yale; March 5: Massachusetts; April 5: @ Johns Hopkins
That's five solid top 20-ish teams that Albany will face in 2013, one being a legitimate national title contender (Hopkins), two having the potential to move toward Philadelphia if things break right (Syracuse and Massachusetts), and two others that have lots of nice pieces and could raise hell in spurts (Drexel and Yale). These are legitimate challenges for a Great Danes squad that hasn't summited the five-win mark since 2009. It's a big boy non-conference schedule for a lad that still wearing short pants a lot, and that could create a lot of trouble for Scott Marr.
March 30: @ Binghamton; April 7: Hartford; April 13: @ Vermont; April 20: UMBC; April 27: @ Stony Brook
The America East is the best kind of chaos. It's just a bunch of kids in the sandbox throwing crayons at each other while fights about dump trucks break out and everyone is covered in tomato sauce from that day's lunch. There are no super stud teams in this league that look like surprise national contenders, and that kind of mess -- again, the best kind of mess -- is what should support Albany if it poops its pants in the non-conference portion of its schedule: The America East is still an automatic qualifying league, and there's nothing on that schedule that is significantly stronger than what the Great Danes have.
That isn't a bad fact at all. If Albany takes care of business late in the year when it matters most, the season could be considered disappointing but not a failure.