College basketball has a vastly superior postseason to college football. But that is only because its regular season is vastly inferior. As a result, we do not pay it much mind until March. Which is now 24 hours away. So we can start talking about the NCAA Tournament now.
The local Power Five picture is pretty clear: Rutgers and UConn are locks and Seton Hall, St. John’s and Syracuse would need to win their conference tournament to get in. As for the mid-majors in the region …
Patriot League (conference tourney starts Feb. 28). Colgate ran away with the regular season title, finishing six games up on second place. But they’ve played plenty of tight games, including two single-digit wins over Army. The Black Knights finished fourth in the regular season.
NEC (March 1). Fairleigh Dickinson swept regular season champion Merrimack, but blew the league title down the stretch by losing four of its last seven games. Eight of the nine teams in the league went 7-9 or better in conference play — LIU is buried in the basement — including Central Connecticut, Sacred Heart, St. Francis of Brooklyn and Wagner. And Sacred Heart and Wagner have beaten FDU and Merrimack this year. So we could get chaos.
CAA (March 3). Hofstra tied College of Charleston for the regular season title and earned the No. 1 seed for the league tournament. Monmouth is in the play-in game after a bad first season in the CAA. Speedy Claxton will be a belle of the March Madness ball if he gets there.
America East (March 4). Binghamton or NJIT would need to pull miracle runs to have any chance.
MAAC (March 7). Iona just blitzed third-place Siena to win another regular season title. But the Gaels have to close things out in Atlantic City to go dancing. Rider beat Iona in New Rochelle and Quinnipiac is a bit frisky as well. Plus the rest of the locals in the field.
Ivy League (March 11). Princeton, Penn and Yale are currently locked in a three-way tie for first place. They’re going to make the four-team tournament, which Princeton is hosting. Cornell has a shot to get the last bid, but it needs to beat last-place Columbia, get a Yale win over Brown and then hope the tiebreakers come through.
Atlantic 10 (March 7). St. Bonaventure has fallen back to Earth this year, so it’s all about Fordham punching its ticket in Brooklyn. The Rams were not competitive in their losses to Dayton and VCU earlier this year, but you never know.
MORE ON ESNY:
• Yankees great Derek Jeter doing a lot of parachuting with new TV gig
• ‘Real’ story of Jacob deGrom’s Mets exit is exactly what we thought it was
• Jets QB target Derek Carr reportedly sets asking price
• WFAN’s Craig Carton roasts ‘alleged competition’ Michael Kay
• Keith Hernandez has hilarious blooper to open Mets spring training
James Kratch can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @jameskratch.