Monday, February 29, 2016

America East conference tournament preview

This is part 8 of a 32-part series that will take a look at every conference and conference tournament in the country.  We'll recap who's playing and what the stakes are for each team in the conference.

The standings:
Stony Brook 14-2 (23-6)
Albany 13-3 (24-7)
New Hampshire 11-5 (18-11)
UMass-Lowell 7-9 (11-18)
Binghamton 5-11 (8-21)
Maine 4-12 (8-21)
Hartford 4-12 (9-22)
UMBC 3-13 (7-24)

Tournament format:
Here's another all-campus site format.  The 8 teams play Wednesday March 2, Monday March 7, and Saturday March 12.  Boy, they space things out.  One wrinke:  in the semis, the lowest seed plays the highest seed.

UMass-Lowell is still in their D1 transition and is ineligible.

The matchups:
8) UMBC at 1) Stony Brook
7) Hartford at 2) Albany
6) Maine at 3) Vermont
5) Binghamton at 4) New Hampshire

The stakes:
Is Stony Brook an at-large contender?  RPI of 62, non-con SoS of 46, 3 Top 100 wins, 11-5 road/neutral...butnah.  Princeton, Hofstra, and Albany at home are the 3 top 100 wins, and while losses to Vandy and Notre Dame are fine, you have to beat one to get a quality win, or at least not lose to Northeastern and WKU.  Harsh but that's the way it works.  The non-con SoS is very much a product of avoiding RPI calorie bombs more than playing top teams.

Still, a weird dynamic.  A-East is 23rd in the RPI, which is actually pretty good for them.  Usually the conference is trapped on the 15 or 16 line.  But the Brook has a profile that should earn them a 14 seed, or even a 13.  However, the committee has shown in the past that when it comes to 14-15-16 seeds, they'll pay more attention to your conference RPI than your actual RPI.  I think the end result will be a 14 seed this year, maybe 13 if enough upsets happen.

Albany is actually inside the Top 100 RPI.  It won't be good enough for the NIT, but hey now.  That's good work for an A-East team, and they're a postseason lock.  The conference really had separation with their top 4 teams, and New Hampshire and Vermont more or less deserve postseason bids based on profile.

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