As we move closer and closer to Selection Sunday, I felt that this week would be a good time to make some mid-season predictions as to where we'll be seeing our Metro teams in March. Of course, there's still plenty of basketball left to play, but I think with a couple educated guesses, we can start to paint a picture of each team's 2021 finale. Here is this weeks Poll, followed by a tiered breakdown of every team's probable destination.
The Metro Poll, Week 9
Nothing to crazy in comparison to last week. Iona dropped down to third, leaving the Top 2 for the first time all season. On paper, they're a better team than Hofstra, but not playing since before Christmas is gonna take a toll on your poll stock. Hofstra has been on a roll in the CAA, so I wouldn't be surprised if they find their way onto a 1 slot on one of our pundits' ballots before the NCAA Tournament. As we move down the table, LIU finds itself snug in the four spot. It's going to be them and Bryant vying for the NEC's postseason bid.
Speaking of the postseason, let's breakdown where I think every team is going to finish this season by tiers.
Metro Poll Postseason Tiers
Tier 1: March Madness Hopefuls
No team in this tier is a guaranteed lock for me, but I think given the right circumstances, they'll each have a shot at winning their respective conferences and snag those sweet automatic bids.
Hofstra has been tearing it up in the Colonial. Currently on a four-game winning streak, the Pride have relied mainly on their trio of Kante, Ray, and Coburn to drive their offense. They've delivered, as Hofstra has remained one of the most versatile scoring units in the Conference, racking up major wins against teams like Richmond. Their biggest heel has been Northeastern, who in both games took advantage of a weak 3-point defense to shoot the lights out of the Pride, while also drastically outrebounding the Pride.
Despite entering the season as title favorites in the MAAC, Iona's been sitting in New Rochelle collecting dust for over a month now. Coach Pitino expressed midway through non-conference play that his team is still a work in progress, and without that time to make those necessary improvements, along with teams like Sienna coming out of nowhere with an 8-2 start, the Gaels are going to have to cover a lot of ground to stay alive in this conference.
Like Hofstra in the CAA, LIU would be on a smooth path to the NEC title if it weren't for one major roadblock. In the Sharks' case, it's Jared Grasso's Bryant Bulldogs. LIU's style is an incredibly fast offense meant to simply outpace your opponent, and so far it's worked, but if they win the NEC, I just don't know how well they'd match up against a potential 5-6 seed with that style of play. Their last two regular season games are against Bryant, so hopefully we'll be getting a preview of the NEC Championship Game.
Tier 2: The Johnnies
I'm putting St. John's in a tier all on their own, as I don't think they'll be in the NCAA Tournament, but instead the NIT. The Big East in having one of it's best years since it underwent major restructuring in 2013. Three teams are currently in the Top 25, while most outlets project 3 at-large bids for the conference. There are way better teams than St. John's that will get those bids, but I think an NIT 3 or 4 seed would suit this current Red Storm roster very well. The Johnnies are a scrappy team, which we've seen in their current four-game win streak that included a victory against then-ranked UConn. Also, St. John's in the NIT usually is grounds for some classic matchups, so who'd really complain?
Tier 3: Sim to November
For the last four teams in the Metro Poll, I'm sorry, but barring any miracle runs in your respective conference tournaments, it's time to just start playing for fun. Fordham's riding out the season with Mike DePaoli before launching a full-scale coach search during the offseason. Manhattan is on a bit of a decline as Steve Masiello will now have to compete with his former coach for major MAAC recruits. Finally, in the NEC, St. Francis seems to be plateauing while Wagner continues it's major developmental step back.