Northeast-10 basketball a sprint to the finish
The stretch run in the Northeast-10 men's basketball season has arrived and Franklin Pierce University head coach David Chadbourne pointed out there's still plenty to play for entering the final week.
"There's so much parity in the league it's just hard to keep track," he said. "You could have one team out of playoff contention right now that finds its way back in with a win or a loss by another team. It's going to be that way until the end of the regular season."
The Ravens (15-4 in the Northeast-10, 18-5 overall) and St. Anselm College (15-4, 19-4) enter tonight's action tied for first place in the league. Each team has three games to play.
The Ravens entertain Bentley (6-13) at 7:30 p.m. in Rindge and, the Hawks, under head coach Keith Dickson, trek across the border to face UMass Lowell (10-9) at 7:30 p.m.
Last Saturday, the Ravens defeated the Hawks 75-66 in Rindge, avenging a Dec. 1 loss to St. Anselm, 87-75, in Manchester on Dec. 1.
If the season ended Tuesday, Franklin Pierce would finish first based on the second tie-breaking criteria.
Chadbourne confirmed Tuesday night the Ravens would win the regular season crown based on their 75-59 regular season win against third-place Assumption. The Hawks lost to the Greyhounds 95-89 before rattling off seven straight wins. That streak came to an end last Saturday in Rindge.
"If we finish tied for first place, then it all depends on how our team and St. Anselm did against the current third-place team in the standings," said Chadbourne. Right now Assumption sits in third place one game ahead of New Haven and Southern Connecticut.
"There are no easy games in our league and we just have to play out the regular season and see where everyone lands in the standings," said Chadbourne, who noted his team has recently overcome season-long injuries and sickness.
While winning the regular season title is a solid accomplishment for any team in the NE-10, Chadbourne said playing well and getting healthy for the post-season is important entering the final regular season week.
"Getting back (6-foot-8 forward) Adrianos (Vourliotakis Perdikaris) for the St. Anselm game was a big lift for us," said Chadbourne, noting his junior missed four games after undergoing mouth surgery for lost teeth against American International College. "We don't have any chemistry issues on our team. Guys like Ellis Cooper, who is the heart-and-soul of our team and, having the leadership of Eric (Jean-Guillaume, reigning 2011-12 NE-10 Conference Player of the Year) has made us a very unselfish and close-knit basketball team."
Through next Tuesday when the regular season ends, the Hawks and Ravens have similar schedules.
After playing Bentley tonight, the Ravens hit the road to face UMass Lowell (10-9) and Merrimack (7-12). The Hawks play UMass Lowell tonight and finish at home against last-place St. Michael's College (5-14) and Stonehill (7-12).
"No one has an easy road," said Chadbourne. "Bentley is a very good rebounding team. They are very physical and play solid defense. They give up very few second chance shots."
In Manchester, Southern New Hampshire University (9-10 in the NE-10) has a chance to host a first-round playoff game.
Teams that finish the regular season in seventh through 10th place, play in the first round. The seventh and eighth place teams will host the first-round games.
SNHU is currently in a three-way tie for seventh place with Adelphi and St. Rose. The Penmen travel to Stonehill (7-12) tonight and close out the regular season hosting Merrimack (7-12) Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at the Fieldhouse and next Tuesday against visiting St. Michael's College at 7:30 p.m.