Here’s how the Big Apple fared in Division I College Basketball in 2015-16.
By Justin Weiss
“This is what March Madness is all about and it’s why everybody bets on college basketball. It’s about cheering for the underdog and watching the Cinderella teams take on the big guns.”
With the exception of Syracuse and St. John’s, New York is the home of a plethora of mid-major teams with aspirations of being the next Cinderella school.
Four NY teams are on the fringe of the NCAA Tournament, while a handful of others came a couple of wins away from the Big Dance.
Stony Brook Seawolves
Led by senior bigman Jameel Warney, who scored 43 points — tied for the most in conference tournament history — the Seawolves defeated Vermont Saturday in the America East Conference Championship Game, after losing on the same stage four of the last five seasons. It will be Stony Brook’s first NCAA tournament appearance ever.
“It’s been an unbelievable journey. It’s so hard,” Seawolves coach Steve Pikiell told ESPN. “All the No. 1 seeds [losing this season], you see how hard it is. People think it’s easy to win games. I’m proud of what we’ve built here.”
The Seawolves' first ever trip to the NCAA Tournament warrants court storming. https://t.co/a2no6Z2mh3
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 12, 2016
The Pride and UNC Wilmington clawed away at each other in the CAA Tournament Championship Game, before the Seahawks clinched an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament thanks to some late-overtime heroics from Denzel Ingram. Had Hofstra held onto a ten-point lead, it would’ve been their first tourney appearance in over a decade.
Senior Juan’ya Green was named the Colonial Athletic Association’s Player of the Year in ’16, but it wasn’t enough to propell the boys from Hempstead, L.I. into the Big Dance.
Jim Boeheim’s suspension at the start of the season was a pain-in-the-ass for the Orange: during his absence, the team embarrassingly lost to St. Johns. If the selection committee is willing to factor in Boeheim’s suspension, the Orange should be one of the last team’s in. Otherwise, late-season losses to North Carolina, Florida St. and Pittsburgh will be the team’s Achilles Heel.
It’s worth to note, however, that ‘Cuse did defeat Texas A&M, Notre Dame and Duke. It’s been a strange season at the Carrier Dome.
Although the Bulls lost to Duke, Iowa State and VCU, they won back-to-back MAC titles in ’16 by successfully defeating the favored Akron Zips on Saturday. This comes on the heels of an emotional season: Nate Oats, Buffalo’s rookie head coach, has been forced to tend to his wife, who is battling lymphoma, while Jim Whitesell lost his brother to cancer and Nikola Rakicevic‘s mom passed away.
Buffalo is slated to be a twelfth seed in th tourney for the second consecutive year.
Buffalo's @nate_oats speaks with his team in the locker room following tonight's Championship win! #HornsUp #MACtionhttps://t.co/ke2T6y5Uhm
— #MACtion (@MACSports) March 13, 2016
After two straight years of winning the MAAC regular season title but failing to reach the Big Dance, the Gaels are finally playing in March. Led by an unconventional coach, two of the most intriguing players in the country and an unhinged offense centered around fast breaks and chucking up threes, Iona defeated Monmouth to return to the NCAA Tournament.
“I will never, ever play the game the other way,” head coach Tim Cluess said. “We’re not going to play like everyone else, just because every other coach is doing it. I’d throw up.”
The Albany Great Danes went 24-8 before falling to the Hartford Hawks in the first round of the CAA Tournament.
Although the Army Black Knights went 19-13 on the season, they fell to Holy Cross in the first round of the Patriot League Tournament.
The Binghamton Bearcats went 8-22, as they finished in sixth place in the America East Conference.
The Canisius Golden Griffins lost to Iona in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference quarterfinals.
The Colgate Raiders finished the season 13-17 before losing to Army in the first round of the Patriot League Tournament.
Although the Ivy League doesn’t have a Tournament, the Columbia Lions finished in third place and lost their season finale to the first-place Yale Bulldogs.
The Cornell Big Red finished the season in seventh place in the Ivy League standings.
The Fordham Rams‘ season came to a close on Thursday, when they fell to Richmond following an encouraging 17-13 campaign.
The LIU-Brooklyn Blackbirds went 16-15 before falling to Wagner in a Northeast Conference tournament semifinal.
A year after they qualified for the NCAA Tournament, the Manhattan Jaspers went 13-18.
The Marist Red Foxes went 7-23 in ’16 and were the worst DI team in New York.
The Niagara Purple Eagles were nearly as bad, going 7-25.
The Davidson Wildcats upset the St. Bonaventure Bonnies to reach the Atlantic 10 Semifinals.
The St. Francis Brooklyn Terriers finished their 2016 campaign with a 15-17 record.
The St. Johns Red Storm struggled in head coach Chris Mullin‘s first season at the helm of the team.
The Siena Saints were shocked by Iona in the MAAC Tournament Semifinals after going 21-12 on the season.
Although the first-seeded Wagner Seawolves went 22-10 during the regular season, they fell to Fairleigh Dickinson in the NEC Championship Game.