College

Full Court Press: Monmouth Misses Opportunity Again, Ivy Set For History

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Very disappointing to see Coach King Rice and his Monmouth Hawks (27-6 overall, 18-2 MAAC) go down in the MAAC semifinal to the Siena Saints. It is the second consecutive year that the Hawks failed to get the job done in the tournament.

MAAC Director of Sports Communication, Anthony Ruggiero, circulated the Hawks NCAA at-large resume and on paper the Hawks should receive a close look. However, most of the experts do not give the Hawks much of a chance.

The tale of tape:

RPI: 47   NCRPI: 33

Strength of Schedule (SOS): 183  Non-conference SOS: 118

Furthermore, Ruggiero states that only eight schools in the nation have more wins than Monmouth’s (27) and 15 schools have fewer losses (6). Monmouth has no sub-200 losses or, so-called bad losses. The Hawks have three wins over teams with an RPI in the Top 100; Princeton (RPI: 51) and two over Iona (RPI: 91). Monmouth lost at North Carolina (RPI: 4) and at South Carolina (RPI 33).

The bottom line is they lost the chance to control their own destiny and now everything is up to the selection committee. I like how Ruggiero makes the case, but the bottom line is the overall strength of schedule will be the Hawks demise.

Hopefully, they can put an exclamation point on a terrific season by getting to The Garden in the NIT finals.

Ivy League Madness

The Ivy League looks forward to having their inaugural conference tournament on Saturday and Sunday March 11-12 at The Palestra in Philadelphia, Pa.

Unbeaten and league champ Princeton (14-0) will open the tournament against Penn. The Quakers wiggled into the Ivy League postseason party with a final game win over Harvard. Harvard and Yale will meet in the other semifinal.

I like Princeton and Harvard in the final with the Tigers closing out a spectacular unbeaten Ivy season and punching their ticket to the dance.

This week the league released their postseason awards and the list was dominated by local names. Princeton’s Mitch Henderson was unanimously voted Ivy League Coach of the Year. Princeton senior forward Spencer Weisz (Florham Park, N.J.) was named Player of the Year and a unanimous selection to the All-Ivy first team.

Weisz is ranked 13th in Princeton history in points (1,210) and fourth in assists (370). The senior captain is the only player in Tiger history with 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 300 assists and 200 three-pointers.

Harvard’s Bryce Aiken (Randolph, N.J.) was voted Rookie of the Year. Aiken had a spectacular first year as he led the Crimson in scoring (14.0 ppg). It was the first time since 1987-88, that a freshman led the Harvard in scoring. Princeton’s Myles Stephens was named Defensive Player of the Year.

The ESPN family of networks will broadcast all tournament games. In addition, Westwood One will be the exclusive network radio partner of the tournament.

Nationally Speaking

Who will be the top four seeds in the tournament? I remain very bullish on Villanova, North Carolina and Gonzaga with Kansas the likely fourth seed overall. Isn’t it interesting that the two teams that played for last year’s national championship are, a year later, the top two seeds.

Bill Self’s Jayhawks didn’t help their cause when they took a fall to Jamie Dixon and TCU in the Big 12 quarterfinals. Self, put another notch in his belt as Mr. February after losing another game in March to the Horned Frogs. However, Self’s record at Kansas speaks for itself and it is only a matter of time before he takes his rightful place in Springfield.

A whole bunch of teams have legitimate shots at the Final Four. I like what I see of Florida State, UCLA and Oregon. I enjoyed watching as Notre Dame defeated Virginia in surgical precision in the ACC quarterfinals. The Irish have one of the best ball movement teams (kudos to local products Steve Vasturia and Matty Farrell) in the country and when they shoot the basketball they can beat anyone.

Bonzie Colson is a legitimate candidate for Player of the Year.

Teams in the dance that most will not want to face are Iowa State, Michigan, Northwestern, West Virginia, Miami and the Ivy League champ.

If Louisville’s Rick Pitino can get more consistency out of his squad he has the guard play, depth and size to win it all. The Cardinals poor second half foul shooting was their demise against Duke in the ACC quarters.

Speaking of the ACC, the league tournament seems to have been well-received playing for the first time in the Big Apple. The Barclays Center will get a taste of one of the great rivalry’s in college basketball when the Dukies play Carolina in tonight’s semifinal.

Here’s hoping that Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim gets another shot in the tournament.

In case you missed it check out the ESPN special on ‘Men of March’. It features an up-close and personal look at a number of the great coaches in college basketball. The segment featuring Miami’s and New York native Jim Larranaga is a terrific piece!

Here we go again!

Another tragic story of abuse is making national headlines, this time in the USA Gymnastics program. As reported in the March 6, 2017 issue of SI, there are over 80 allegations dating back to the 1990s, about Doctor Lawrence Nassar having inappropriate contact while treating female gymnasts.

Like Penn State, it is hard to believe that leaders in the program were not aware of what was going on over this 30-year period.

Where is the outrage over this and why was it allowed to persist for three decades? “No action” is a cop-out – leaders need to have the courage to take action or face the consequences!

Keep shooting…. see you next week….

Follow Bob on Twitter for all the latest in college hoop happenings, game highlights, features and more: @WhitneyBob

Bob Whitney

Bob Whitney

Bob is a college basketball columnist here at DoubleGSports.com. He also covers Yale football and the Connecticut Sun of the WNBA.
Bob Whitney

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