March Madness has returned, and there is a good representation of metro-area schools in the field of 68. Three of the schools are from New Jersey, and one is from New York. Representing New Jersey are Seton Hall, Rutgers, and St. Peter’s. The lone New York school is Colgate, returning for their second straight year after winning the Patriot League tournament. Although none of the schools are highly seeded, I wouldn’t count them all out yet.
#8 Seton Hall
Seton Hall had themselves a good season, finishing 5th in the Big East with their record being 21-10 (11-8). The committee put them as an 8 seed to play TCU Friday night. The Pirates are led by their strong backcourt play, especially by senior Jared Rhoden. Rhoden is their leading scorer with 15.9ppg, also grabbing over 6 rebounds per game. Their second-leading scorer, Bryce Aiken, is out as of now. His status for round one isn’t official, but he isn’t likely to play. Aiken puts up over 14 a night. However, this is a Seton Hall team that has won 9/12 without him. So no need to rule them out.
Like Seton Hall, TCU has a strong backcourt. Their guy is Mike Miles who is averaging 15 a night. Both teams are pretty similar as they will score but won’t have a large scoring margin. If they can shut down the TCU offense, Hall has a good chance of winning the game. But as most of the 8/9 matchups go, it seems like a 50/50 matchup.
Rutgers is going to the tournament for the second straight year. The difference this time is they have to play a first four game in Dayton against Notre Dame on Wednesday. Rutgers started the season off slow, then went on a run in conference play beating four straight top 25 teams. They ended up going 18-13 in total, but their strong resume and big wins make them a tournament team. A first four game also makes sense for them. Ron Harper Jr. and Geo Baker remain the two top options for this team, as they were last year as well.
Notre Dame is a tough matchup for Rutgers. Although they finished 2nd in the ACC, lack of quality wins puts them in the spot they are in. This is a team that can score the basketball. The good part for Rutgers is their defense could slow them down. Notre Dame also gives up 66 points a night which is a good counter to Rutgers. As long as Rutgers is efficient, they can make their way into the field of 64. They would go on to play Alabama if they win, and they are a beatable team. A Rutgers win over Notre Dame could have them set to make a run in March Madness.
The first mid-major on the list is Colgate, but this is still a really good team. They get scoring from up and down their lineup, averaging 76.1ppg as a team. Colgate has won 15 in a row, making them one of the hottest teams in the country. But because of their strength of schedule and their conference, they will be playing as a 14 seed against Wisconsin.
Wisconsin is another team with a high-powered offense. However, they aren’t even top 100 in offensive efficiency. For reference, the teams that go on a run are usually top 30. They give up 66.5 points a game, which is around average. So when you look at it, this really isn’t a bad matchup. But if Colgate’s offense doesn’t show up, they pretty much have no chance here.
#15 St. Peter’s
St Peter’s is back in the tournament for the first time since 2011. They did this after defeating Monmouth in the MAAC championship. St. Peter’s doesn’t score a lot. Only 66.9ppg, however, they hold opponents to about 62 per game. So if they can score more than usual, maybe there’s the chance at the big upset. However, their matchup is the best 2 seed in my opinion who is poised for a deep March Madness run, Kentucky.
I don’t want to say there’s absolutely no chance because every team in the tournament is there for a reason. But odds definitely aren’t in their favor. They would need to defend so well that they completely shut down Kentucky, or manage to win in a shootout. Either way, it’ll be tough to top a team like Kentucky.