2014 NESCAC Men’s Basketball Championship Seeding
HADLEY, Mass. – With the top seed in this
year’s NESCAC Men’s Basketball Championship at stake,
Amherst closed out the regular season with a 84-67 win over
Middlebury this afternoon. In the process, the Jeffs secured home
court advantage throughout the tournament for the third consecutive
year. They will begin their quest for a seventh conference crown
when quarterfinal round action gets underway on Saturday. Williams,
Middlebury and Bowdoin have also earned the right to host
quarterfinal round contests. The highest seed following this
weekend will host both semifinals and the final from March 1-2.
This year’s champion will earn an automatic bid to the NCAA
Amherst (21-3, 9-1 NESCAC) and Williams finished the regular season tied atop the standings, but the Jeffs claimed the top seed by virtue of their 84-73 home victory over the Ephs on Jan. 11. Amherst has played well down the stretch having won 14 of its last 15 games since suffering a New Year’s Day overtime loss. The Jeffs hope to carry that momentum into the post-season as they aim for their third straight league title and sixth overall. Following last year’s NESCAC Championship, Amherst went on to earn the program’s second national championship.
First, the Jeffs must get past eighth-seeded Colby (14-10, 4-6 NESCAC). The Mules finished in a three-way tie with Tufts and Wesleyan for the final two playoff berths. In the first tiebreak criteria of head-to-head results, the three teams went 1-1 against each other. Since each team posted four conference wins, results against the league’s top four teams were compared. Colby and Tufts each went 1-3, while Wesleyan was 0-4, eliminating the Cardinals from contention. The Jumbos claimed the seventh seed by virtue of edging the Mules, 88-81, in overtime on Friday night.
Colby closed out the season winning six of their final eight games, including an 85-70 victory over Bates Saturday afternoon to clinch a berth in the playoffs. The stretch also saw the Mules knock off Amherst, 80-75, snapping the Jeffs’ 25-game conference win streak on Jan. 31. The teams have met on five post-season occasions with Amherst owning a 4-1 advantage. Last season, the Jeffs defeated Colby, 83-52, in the quarterfinals.
Second-seeded Williams (21-3, 9-1 NESCAC) will be in pursuit of its fifth overall NESCAC title and first since 2010 when tournament play begins on Saturday. The Ephs, who have played in six final games, have dropped just three contests this season, with two coming at the hands of Amherst. Williams’ post-season journey begins with a quarterfinal matchup against seventh-seeded Tufts (13-11, 4-6 NESCAC). The Jumbos sealed their spot in the championship with back-to-back wins over Colby and Bowdoin in the final weekend. Last season, Tufts advanced to the semifinal round for the first time since 2006 after defeating Bowdoin, 82-71, in the quarterfinals. The Jumbos’ lone final appearance came in 2006 where they fell to Amherst, 94-86 in overtime. Williams holds a 3-1 mark against the Jumbos in conference playoff action, but the teams have not squared off since a 2007 quarterfinal where the Ephs prevailed, 84-72. During the regular season, Williams defeated Tufts, 93-70, in Williamstown on Feb. 8.
Middlebury (16-8, 6-4 NESCAC) earned the No. 3 seed over Bowdoin courtesy of the Panthers’ dramatic 69-66 victory on Feb. 9. The Panthers, who earned NESCAC titles in 2009 and 2011, have posted an impressive 11-3 tournament mark over the last five years. Middlebury won six straight games in the middle of January, and has won 10 of its last 13 heading into the playoffs. In order to advance, Middlebury has to get past sixth-seeded Hamilton (14-10, 5-5 NESCAC) on Saturday. The Continentals earned their second championship berth by winning four of their last six games, including a 76-74 thriller at home over the Panthers on Feb. 2. In its only playoff appearance, Hamilton fell to Amherst in the 2012 quarterfinal by the score of 86-66.
The remaining quarterfinal round game pits fourth-seeded Bowdoin (19-4, 6-4 NESCAC) against fifth-seeded Trinity (14-10, 5-5 NESCAC). The Polar Bears’ 12-0 start was the longest-ever win streak to open a season in program history. Following its first loss, Bowdoin won five straight games, but has gone 2-3 in February. The Polar Bears look to advance to the semifinal round for the third time in program history and first since 2009. Trinity was awarded the fifth seed by virtue of their 62-53 triumph over Hamilton on Jan. 11, as both teams finished with identical 5-5 conference marks. The Bantams, who return to the post-season field for the first time since 2011 after making 11 consecutive trips, have appeared in eight semifinal contests and garnered the 2008 title by defeating Bowdoin, 74-55. Trinity also defeated the Polar Bears in a 2007 quarterfinal, 77-67. This season Bowdoin handed the Bantams a 46-39 loss in Brunswick on Jan. 31.
Results for the NESCAC Men’s Basketball Championship will be available at the completion of each day on the NESCAC website.