Iona Rick Pitino
(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

ESNY’s NY/NJ College Hoops Rankings are back for another week as the Metropolitan area teams struggle.

Danny Small

ESNY’s NY/NJ College Hoops Rankings are back with one new team and another dropping out of the rankings entirely. Iona’s last game came on Dec. 23 due to COVID-19 issues for the school.

The Metropolitan area is in the midst of a significant slide across the board. Outside of St. John’s, who has won four of their last five, the power conference teams are all struggling to stay afloat during this bizarre 2020-21 season.

Here is how our rankings shake out this week:

  1. Rutgers (10-6, 6-6)
  2. St. John’s (11-7, 5-6)
  3. Syracuse (10-5, 4-4)
  4. Seton Hall (9-8, 6-5)
  5. Siena (8-2, 8-2)
  6. Monmouth (8-5, 8-4)
  7. Saint Peter’s (9-6, 6-4)
  8. Stony Brook (8-8, 6-4)
    N/A. Iona (5-3, 3-1)

New team: Stony Brook

N/A. Iona (5-3, 3-1)

What is going on with Iona this season is a shame. They have dealt with COVID setback after COVID setback and it’s putting a damper on what was supposed to be an exciting season for the Gaels. It’s Rick Pitino’s first year as head coach in New Rochelle and we have barely had a chance to see his team play.

Rather than leave Iona on our rankings, we are taking them off for the week. Hopefully, they will be able to pick up with their season soon and make some noise in the MAAC tournament.

8. Stony Brook (8-8, 6-4)

Stony Brook has had an up-and-down season up to this point. They are currently third in the America East with four crucial games coming up against the top two teams in the conference — UMBC and Vermont. The Seawolves are 242nd on KenPom’s rankings, but they could be one of the only teams in the Metro area to make the NCAA Tournament if they can show up in their conference tournament.

7. Saint Peter’s (9-6, 6-4)

The margins between Saint Peter’s and the next team on our list are razor-thin. The Peacocks have won three of their last four, including a win over Siena in Albany. Shaheen Holloway’s squad is led by K.C. Ndefo, who is averaging 12.1 points and 4.1 blocks per game.

6. Monmouth (8-5, 8-4)

Monmouth split with Saint Peter’s earlier in the season and both games finished with a score of 78-76. The Hawks are getting a slight edge over the Peacocks simply because they have the better in-conference record. New Jersey hoop fans would love to see these two teams meet in the MAAC Conference Tournament for a rubber-match.

5. Siena (8-2, 8-2)

It took Siena, the preseason pick to win the MAAC, forever to start the season, but they are off and running now. The Saints have two losses on the season — Saint Peter’s, Marist — by a combined seven points. They are in the driver’s seat to win the MAAC regular-season crown and should be in the mix come conference tourney time.

4. Seton Hall (9-8, 6-5)

And now we move onto the power conference schools. Seton Hall has suffered some tough losses to top teams in recent weeks and thus, they fall from No. 4 to No. 2 on our list.

Sure, under normal circumstances, two losses to Villanova and another against Creighton shouldn’t tank Seton Hall’s ranking like this, but the way they lost those games factors into the drop. The Pirates were up 16 on the Bluejays with 11:30 to go in the second half. They absolutely collapsed to give away the potential resumé-builder.

Seton Hall is sitting on the bubble right now. They need a strong finish to the year to push them over the edge and into the NCAA Tournament.

3. Syracuse (10-5, 4-4)

What can we say about this Syracuse team? They secured a massive win over No. 16 Virginia Tech, but immediately followed that up with a stinker against No. 8 Virginia. To be clear, Virginia is a legitimate championship contender, but the Orange suffered a major collapse in the second half.

Syracuse is definitely on the outside looking in at the NCAA Tournament as of this week, but they have a month to prove they belong.

2. St. John’s (11-7, 5-6)

Some might argue that we are putting St. John’s too high here, but what have you done for me lately? The Red Storm have won four of their last five and although most of those wins have come against bottom-half Big East teams, they recently knocked off No. 23 ranked UConn.

The Johnnies are another team that needs a strong finish to have a chance at the NCAA Tournament, but their defense is finally starting to figure itself out. It’s also worth noting that St. John’s has won the Metropolitan Player of the Week in three consecutive weeks (Posh Alexander and Julian Champagnie x2).

1. Rutgers (10-6, 6-6)

Rutgers was flying high at the beginning of the season, but they have since come back down to Earth. Their difficult Big Ten schedule started to catch up with them.

With that said, they are the only area team that is safely in the NCAA Tournament at this point in the season. Obviously, a collapse could tank their chances at going dancing, but as long as they stay relevant in the Big Ten, they should be a safe bet to make the tourney.

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