Conference Spotlight: Northeast Conference
Current League Standings:
|TEAM||OVERALL RECORD||CONFERENCE RECORD||WINS||LOSSES||MEDIA POLL RANK (3/9)|
|Hobart||3-2||0-0||Siena, Binghamton, Canisius||Cornell, Georgetown|
|St. Joseph's||3-4||0-0||High Point, VMI, Monmouth||Richmond, Pennsylvania, Drexel, Virginia|
|Mount St. Mary's||2-4||0-0||VMI, Furman||Delaware, Towson, Georgetown, Richmond|
|Sacred Heart||1-2||0-0||Dartmouth||High Point, Providence|
|Wagner||1-4||0-0||Massachusetts- Lowell||Lafayette, Rutgers, Monmouth, Dartmouth|
|Bryant||1-5||0-0||Hartford||Colgate, Bucknell, Yale, Drexel, North Carolina|
|Robert Morris||1-5||0-0||Siena||Ohio State, Bellarmine, Detroit, High Point, Jacksonville|
- Hobart: The young boys at Hobart are off to the races this year. As the only member of the Northeast Conference over .500, the Statesmen are on pace to have their best season since 2008, when they finished 8-6. Hobart's only losses are to Georgetown and Cornell, two competent teams. Further, the Statesmen have failed to score double digits only once this season. With a few top 20 opponents left on their schedule this season, Hobart has a couple chances left to surprise people and get an all important major nonconference win to boost their profile.
- St. Joseph's: Coming off the best season in school history, the Hawks are only 3-4 in 2015. But, to me at least, they still look like the most dangerous team in the Northeast Conference. The Hawks lost to Pennsylvania after leading the Quakers 9-4 after three quarters and the Hawks almost pulled off a major upset when they had a lead over Virginia late in the fourth quarter in their 15-14 loss to the Cavs. Though they won the NEC regular season last year, the Hawks missed the NCAA Tournament in 2014 after Hobart pulled the upset on the Hawks in the first round of the NEC Tournament. St. Joseph's is looking to erase 2014's bad ending and finish the job this year by winning the conference's automatic bid in only their second season as an Northeast Conference team.
- Mount St. Mary's: The Mountaineers have already doubled their win total from 2014. While that might sound like I'm
damningdarning them with faint praise, if you look a little under the surface you will see that two of their losses (Delaware and Richmond) were by one goal. If The Mount can find a way to finish some of their upcoming games, they could find a spot in the NEC Tournament at the end of the year . . . and at that point anything can happen.
Upcoming Games of Earth-Shattering Importance:
- Hobart at Towson (March 14), Bryant at Hobart (March 21), and Hobart at Syracuse (April 14): While winning the conference's automatic bid is probably Hobart's best chance for a ticket to The Big Barbeque, the Statesmen have two excellent chances at top 20 wins to bolster their at-large resume. A win against the Tigers this weekend would definitely garner attention, but if the Statesmen tear up the Geneva Conventions and beat the Orange in the Carrier Dome, well, everyone would probably lose their minds.
- Michigan at St. Joseph's (March 14), St. Joseph's at Bryant (March 28), and Hobart at St. Joseph's (April 11): St. Joseph's has a great chance at taking down Michigan this weekend. While the Wolverines are a tough squad and are having a solid season, if the Hawks play like they did down in Virginia, there is no reason they can't take out the Wolverines at home on the 14th. Additionally, don't let their record fool you -- Coach Pressler will have Bryant ready to play on the 28th. Should St. Joseph's knock off Bryant and then beat Hobart on April 11th, the Hawks will have an excellent shot at the top seed in the Northeast Confernece Tournament at the end of April. Hopefully the Hawks are ready to play this weekend, after all the chaos from (FORMER JOHNS HOPKINS COACH) Chip Kelly's AMAZING FANTASTICALLY AWESOME OFFSEASON.*
- Bryant at Hobart (March 21), St. Joseph's at Bryant (March 28), Albany at Bryant (April 14), and Brown at Bryant (April 21): While 1-5 isn't the start Coach Pressler was looking for this season, the Bulldogs demonstrated that they are still a very dangerous team in their March 10th game against North Carolina. After an 11-day layoff, the Bulldogs get right back at it against Hobart and St. Joseph's on the 21st and 28th, respectively. Knocking off both St. Joseph's and Hobart would put Bryant right back in the thick of the NEC race and help erase the Bulldogs' 1-5 start to 2015. Additionally, Bryant still has a chance to introduce a little anarchy into the national polls when they take on Albany and Brown on April 14th and 21st, respectively. The game against Brown should be a proper Providence, no-rules, pub fight.
- Mike Rastivo (St. Joseph's): Rastivo made the Northeast Conference All-Rookie team and the All-Tournament team last year, totaling 27 tallies and seven assists to round out a splendid freshman campaign. Bad news for the competition, though, as it looks like Rastivo is back to his usual tricks this year, leading the Hawks in goals (14) and is tied for the lead in assists (6). If Rastivo can keep keep the production up, he might just lead the Hawks to the promise land and the program's first ever appearance in The Big Barbecue.
- Eric Rankel (Robert Morris): We always have a special place in our hearts when a team finally gets off Reverse Survivor Island. When a player scores a half-dozen goals in said winning effort, well that player gets to be on our "That Guy" watch. Rankel had a wonderful game in Robert Morris' win over Siena, bagging six tallies and an assist as well to end the game with seven points. Rankel has had a stellar career at Robert Morris, twice being named to the All-NEC first team. A few more games like the one he had against Siena and he'll certainly have a strong case for a three-peat.
NCAA Tournament Prognosis:
- League: This is probably a one bid conference.
- St. Joseph's: I admittedly have a Philly bias, but I think the Hawks have the best chance at making The Big Barbecue from the NEC. Nearly the entire squad that went 11-4 and won the 2014 Northeast Conference regular season is back this year. Further, St. Joseph's
should havenearly knocked off both Pennsylvania and Virginia. While you are what your record is, the Hawks have shown me that they are definitely capable of taking down big teams. If they can find a way to close out big games, they should have what it takes to win the NEC regular season and the Northeast Conference Tournament.
- Hobart and Bryant: Every protagonist needs an antagonist.
*Everyone's weekend assignment (besides reading College Crosse and watching the games this weekend, of course) is to find a Cowboys fan and point and laugh at them. Tell 'em Eri_Barrister sent ya.