Revised All-Conference selections:
Best call(s): Pancake! Being high on the transfer from New Mexico paid off; my Newcomer of the Year pick ended up leading the entire conference in scoring (19.0ppg). I had him on the second team in the preseason, but despite his team’s struggles, he’ll probably be a first-teamer. Jameel Warney was an easy POY pick, and the conference’s top 3 ended up being relatively predictable. Due to poor editing (I guess we need to hire one?), I had New Hampshire and Hartford flipped in the team section vs the prediction listing – should have stuck with the Leissner-led squad at 4th. UMass Lowell also was a pleasant surprise, mustering 7 wins in the conference despite being one of the least experienced and shortest teams (346th in average height). They aren't eligible for the tournament as a D1 transition team, though.
Worst call(s): I was so focused on Lucas Woodhouse being an impact transfer for Stony Brook that I overlooked the gigantic impact that Ahmad Walker would have. The junior who played a year in junior college in 2014-15 (played for Stony in 2013-14) was a super versatile weapon, leading the team in assists and finishing second in rebounds. Also, I thought UMBC would rise up the standings with the return of Rodney Elliott – Elliott was good, but the team continued to wallow in the pits of the conference.
Who I want to win: Stony Brook! These poor guys have lost in the finals to Albany for two straight years (and lost to Albany in the semis three years ago). Now seniors, Warney and Puriefoy deserve a chance to play in the tournament – they could be tournament darlings if they get the right matchups.
Who I think will win: I’ll stick with Stony Brook. Coach Pikiell’s team has some major demons to confront, but when it comes down to it, I’ll ride with Puriefoy and Warney. I definitely hope we get the Albany/Stony Brook championship game again.
Chance to make a run in the NCAA Tournament: Not bad, actually! Stony Brook could nab a 13 seed (maybe even a 12, if enough of the Valpo/San Diego St/Chattanooga/etc. crew above them flames out in their respective tournaments). As long as they avoid an opponent with a total stud one-on-one post defender (like Purdue), Warney will be a matchup nightmare, and the perimeter skill around him can take advantage of double-teams and open kick-outs. It almost got them a win @ Vanderbilt! Albany could also give someone a battle with their senior-laden backcourt, though they’ll need a good shooting night from Hooley and Cremo. Vermont could maaaaaybe give someone like Oregon problems in a 2/15 game, but I doubt it.
How it plays out: Best guess is pretty boring.
(1) Stony Brook defeats (8) UMBC
(4) New Hampshire defeats (5) Binghamton
(3) Vermont defeats (6) Maine
(2) Albany defeats (7) Hartford
(1) Stony Brook defeats (4) New Hampshire
(2) Albany defeats (3) Vermont
(1) Stony Brook defeats (2) Albany
Chalk chalk chalk – but that’s ok with me here. Stony Brook earns a 13 seed and wins a game in the NCAA Tournament, catching someone like Iowa, Indiana, or Texas A&M sleeping in the first round.