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Conference Power Ranking

Heading into the weekend, contributor Adam Lamont has a conference power ranking. Coming shortly a preview of tonights game featuring Adam’s 4th (Colby) and 5th (Middlebury) ranked teams.

Amherst stays on top, but a road loss at Colby has narrowed the gap between the Lord Jeffs and the rest of the conference.

Amherst stays on top, but a road loss at Colby has narrowed the gap between the Lord Jeffs and the rest of the conference.

1. Amherst (6-1) This number spot is much more closely contested than it was last week. It wasn’t shocking that Amherst had their first loss this weekend, but that it came against Colby, rather than Bowdoin was. Whether Amherst was looking ahead to their game against Bowdoin or just played a bad game isn’t clear, but a lot of credit also has to be given to the Mules. Amherst avoided the 0-2 weekend by eking out a great win over Bowdoin. Every three Aaron Toomey takes looks like it’s going in. Seeing him play in person was special. The ball movement Amherst showed against the Bowdoin zone at times was magical. Amherst figures to have a smooth weekend against Wesleyan and Conn College before finishing against Middlebury.

2. Williams (5-1) No way you can justify Williams jumping above Amherst despite the Colby upset. Williams looked lost in the first half against Middlebury and figured to be pretty much out of the conference race at half time. A great comeback kept their NESCAC-hosting hopes alive and it almost looked like Williams could be in the driver’s seat if Bowdoin beat Amherst. Four NESCAC games remain against lower tier teams for the Ephs who have played the meat of their conference schedule. Williams will have to be careful not to get complacent. A Taylor Epley resurgence is likely the key for Williams to have a chance against Amherst in their third meeting, which seems more and more likely.

3. Bowdoin (5-2) Respect only means so much, but Bowdoin has proved it can go toe-to-toe against Williams and Amherst. Bowdoin took a beating against Trinity and came out flat against Amherst who looked dominant for the first 10 minutes. But Bowdoin refused to lie down and came back before ultimately seeing Amherst make more plays down the stretch. Bryan Hurley is back and though he didn’t make a big impact this weekend, he could be the difference for Bowdoin down the stretch if he can play his way into game shape. The Bears can’t rest up too much as they have three tough road games to close out the year.

4. Colby (3-4) Call it an overreaction to one game if you want, but the Mules just put the league on notice if not for this year than certainly the near future. Their top five scorers are all sophomores with Chris Hudnut the leader of the group. Colby played both Bowdoin and Williams to single digit losses on the road but also couldn’t hang with Hamilton or Conn. College at home. If we buy their recent success they are growing up at the right time.

5. Middlebury (3-3) A baffling and heartbreaking weekend for the Panthers who looked they were coming together with a dominating first half against Williams. Then they blew that lead, losing to the Ephs in heartbreaking fashion, and couldn’t recover Sunday against Hamilton losing again in the final minute. No one questions the talent they have, but worries about chemistry and effort have to be voiced. They do have the ability to put it together and win the NESCAC tournament — assuming they make it that far. None of their remaining games (three of which are against three of the four top teams on this list) are easy wins.

6. Trinity (3-4) The offense completely broke down Friday night against Bowdoin. Still that defense is formidable — especially in the paint — and they would have beaten Colby if they shot better than 57.7 percent from the free throw line. With that defense they can beat anybody, but it seems unlikely they could win three games in a row and win the conference championship.

7. Hamilton (2-4) They have played the hardest schedule in the NESCAC so far, and while nothing screams sleeper about them, wins over Middlebury and Colby can’t be dismissed. Matt Hart, who leads the conference averaging 21.5 points per game on 48/42/84 splits, deserves First-Team All-NESCAC consideration, and if Hamilton gets hot down the stretch he could be in the running for Player of the Year honors as well.

8. Wesleyan (3-3) Yes they have won three games in a row, but none of them were particular shockers. They are almost guaranteed five conferences losses because they still have to play Williams and Amherst. A nice young core is developing especially on the perimeter, but they have to get some size before they will compete at a high level.

9. Tufts (2-4) Disappointment is not hard to come by in Medford right now. Their first three conference losses were all understandable and they seemed to be turning the corner with two straight wins. Then they inexplicably got out-played at Wesleyan. They have gotten stellar play from freshman big man Hunter Sabety, but the loss of Tom Palleschi before the season has been too much to overcome.

10. Conn College (2-4) Their win Saturday over Bates means the Camels escape the basement. Given their lack of success in recent years, just making the conference tournament will be a success for them, but that remains an uphill battle. Unfortunately Matt Vadas isn’t coming back next year and the future in New London doesn’t look very bright.

11. Bates (1-5) This is a team with a lot of talent for a last place team and that shows the depth, but also the inconsistency, of the NESCAC this year. The Bobcats beat Middlebury in Pepin Gymnasium to start NESCAC play, but everything has gone south since then. What exactly has happened in Lewiston is unclear, but they can still salvage the season if they can beat their Maine rivals in the final weekend of the season, which may be enough to secure them a spot in the NESCAC Tournament as well.

One Comment

  1. wrote:

    Safe to say that Midd jumps Colby after blowing them out last night. Additionally, as you mentioned with Hurley possibly being the X factor for Bowdoin down the stretch, last night Daley and Pendergast were in uniform for the first time in a long time for the Panthers. The former, in particular, could have major ramifications on postseason play.

    Saturday, February 8, 2014 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

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