As the regular season winds to an end, we may have had our best week yet for basketball in the five boroughs. We've seen returns, upsets, and streaks that give this week's rankings some new life.
The Metro Poll: Week 11
Aside from our top-dog Johnnies, every team in the poll is in motion this week. Fordham has finally hit the bottom of the poll, and given recent news about the program's temporary suspension due to COVID on campus, it looks like that's where they'll finish. Despite any big jumps, the biggest story this week is Wagner taking the four spot. While their climb has been gradual over the last few weeks, it's pretty great to see a team who spent a good portion at the bottom of the poll make so much progress.
How 'Bout Them Seahawks?
Speaking of Wagner, let's break down a few things that have helped them get to the 5-game winning streak they're currently on. The simple answer to this streak seems to be hot shooters, especially in their most recent win against Merrimack. In their 95-86 win on Saturday, four Wagner players scored in double figures, three of them passing the 20-point mark. While it was a game full of runs, Wagner was able to lock it down when they needed to, challenging any Merrimack run with some clutch shooting of their own. The biggest standout player in this current streak has definitely been Freshman DeLonnie Hunt. In Wagner's past five games, Hunt has averaged 15.8 points. With this last win against Merrimack, Wagner has pushed themselves all the way up into fourth place in the NEC. While this is a respectable push any year, the fact that the NEC tournament will only feature four teams makes this run very special.
Iona Takes the Court After a LONG Hiatus
Possibly one of the longest in-season pauses we've seen this year, Iona finally returned to play against Manhattan this weekend after not playing since December 23rd. While most teams have struggled coming back from long breaks this year, Manhattan jumped to one of their best halves of the year, scoring 49 points to establish a 20-point lead. When asked about how his team was able to put on such a performance, Pitino attributed the win to his guys simply being hungry to get out there and compete. Responses like that are exactly why the mentality Pitino brings to this Iona squad is so dangerous for the rest of the MAAC. Not to knock any other coaches in the conference, but the experience and knowledge Pitino brings to this team will make them a perennial contender in the conference.