ny/nj college hoops
Credit: Rutgers Athletics

With March Madness and conference tournament season upon us, let’s dive into ESNY’s NY/NJ college hoops rankings.

Danny Small

The regular season is over in college basketball and teams are turning their attention to conference tournaments. With the MAAC, Big East, and Big Ten conference tournaments all set to start this week, let’s take a look at our NY/NJ College Hoops Rankings.

Pre-conference tournament rankings:

  1. Rutgers (Record: 14-10, Conference Record: 10-10)
  2. St. John’s (16-10, 10-9)
  3. Seton Hall (13-12, 10-9)
  4. Siena (12-4, 12-4)
  5. Monmouth (12-7, 12-6)
  6. Saint Peter’s (13-10, 10-8)
  7. Stony Brook (9-14, 7-9)
    N/A. Iona (8-5, 6-3)

Sidenote: Syracuse is out. These rankings will only include schools located in the Metropolitan area from now on.

N/A. Iona (8-5, 6-3)

Iona head coach Rick Pitino recently said that his team was one of the hardest-hit programs by COVID this season and he’s not wrong. The Gaels were stuck in a constant state of flux and could never get their feet under them.

They will have the chance to prove themselves in the MAAC Tournament this week, but this has been a lost season in almost every way for Iona. It’s not what anyone wants to see.

7. Stony Brook (9-14, 7-9)

Stony Brook’s season is over after the Seawolves fell to UMass Lowell in the first round of the America East Tournament. Stony Brook crumbled down the stretch of the season, losing six of their last seven games. There’s always next year.

6. Saint Peter’s (13-10, 10-8)

Shaheen Holloway’s squad has a legitimate shot to do some damage in the MAAC Tournament. As the three-seed, they can avoid the top-seeded Siena Saints until the championship.

Look for KC Ndefo to make an impact in Atlantic City. The 6-foot-6 junior is leading the country with 3.7 blocks per game and he’s no slouch on the offensive end either. He is the top scorer for the Peacocks, averaging 13.6 points per contest.

5. Monmouth (12-7, 12-6)

The Peacocks have a potential MAAC semifinals match lined up with the Monmouth Hawks. It’s tough to gauge where Monmouth is after they played a schedule almost entirely of conference opponents, but we know where they rank in the MAAC. Monmouth represents the top contender to Siena this week.

4. Siena (12-4, 12-4)

It took the Saints forever to start the season due to COVID protocols, but the preseason pick to win the MAAC didn’t disappoint. Siena has four different guys scoring in double-figures this year and that balanced offensive attack has them well in front of the rest of the mid-majors on our rankings.

3. Seton Hall (13-12, 10-9)

A once-promising season for Seton Hall is suddenly on the brink. They need to win at least two games in the Big East Tournament to have a chance at making the Big Dance. Their first game against St. John’s — more on them in a second — is essentially a coin flip, but Villanova is going to be tough to beat in the semifinals.

It’s time for this senior-laden team to put up or shut up. The Pirates need Sandro Mamukelashvili, a first-team All-Big East honoree, to lead the way into the NCAA Tournament.

2. St. John’s (16-10, 10-9)

Much like Seton Hall, St. John’s is fighting for a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Head coach Mike Anderson will continue his impressive streak of seasons with a .500 or better team. He’s 19-for-19 in that regard as a head coach.

For St. John’s to punch a ticket to Indianapolis, they will need Julian Champagnie and Posh Alexander to lead from the front. Champagnie was recently named to the All-Big East first team while Alexander was named to the All-Freshman squad.

1. Rutgers (14-10, 10-10)

Rutgers is the only Metropolitan school that should be safe to make the NCAA Tournament. The Scarlet Knights could use a win over Indiana in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament just to be safe, but they are in a good spot to make it right now.

This will be the first time Rutgers qualifies for the NCAA Tournament since 1991. They would have made it in 2020 if not for COVID shutting everything down.

Despite some inconsistent play during the season, the Scarlet Knights are capable of making a run into the second weekend of the tournament.