Change is a Good Thing: Football Power Rankings Week 6

As the top half of the league spent the first half of this NESCAC season collectively pounding the state of Maine week after week, we were finally treated with a slate of games with legitimate championship implications, and it certainly lived up to the hype. With Trinity visiting Tufts and Middlebury welcoming Williams, as well as a pair of 0-4 teams in Hamilton and Bowdoin squaring off, Saturday was sure to make this rookie blogger’s Power Rankings debut a whole lot easier.

  1. Trinity
Dominque Seagears
Dominique Seagears ’18 (Courtesy of Trinity Athletics)

There is one team in this conference that is undefeated and as long as that holds true, Trinity will remain at the top of these rankings. Max Chipouras ’18 logged a season high 165 rushing yards on 29 attempts and the Bantams defense was able to turn Tufts over 4 times, 3 of those being interceptions off of Ryan McDonald ’18. They once again had a new defensive MVP, this time in the form of defensive back Dominique Seagears ’18 whose 100 yard interception return for a touchdown surely flipped this game on its head. It’s hard to imagine Trinity sliding out of this spot after next week’s matchup at home against Bowdoin, but Middlebury the following weekend will be their biggest test to date.

2. Williams

What a week for the Ephs and again what a week for Bobby Maimaron ’21. Maimaron connected with classmate Frank Stola with 0 seconds left on the clock to stun previously undefeated Middlebury 27-26. Maimaron impressed again, racking up 288 total yards of offense and 3 TDs, earning his second consecutive NESCAC offensive player of the week honor. But I think the most impressive part about this Williams win was how they got it done. They were outgained 432-378, they didn’t force any turnovers on defense, and they found themselves down two scores with 9 minutes left in the game, but still managed a way to win. Despite the fact that Jared Lebowitz ’18 made perhaps his strongest case for being the best quarterback in the league and a continued recipient of compliments from this blog, it was once again the first year QB on the other side of the ball who shone the brightest, leading his team on a 12 play, 80 yard drive in just over two minutes to win what was the biggest game for Williams football in a long time. While Wesleyan and Amherst also sit at 4-1, it’s the Ephs who earn the top spot for one-loss teams with a resume that features a win on the road against a title contender in Middlebury and a single loss to undefeated Trinity in Hartford. Until Wesleyan and Amherst show that they can hang with the big boys, it’s Williams who will hold onto this spot. A lot of things need to fall their way for them to have a chance to win this thing, and while I don’t have the metrics in front of me, I would imagine that still having Tufts, Wesleyan, and Amherst remaining puts them towards the front of toughest remaining schedules, but there is no reason this team should have anything less than championship aspirations, especially after this week.

3. Middlebury

The Panthers were one play away from firmly planting themselves as the second horse in what looked as if could be a two horse race for the NESCAC, and this space would’ve been taken up with a discussion about 6-0 Middlebury vs. 6-0 Trinity in Week 7 after both teams steamroll Bates and Bowdoin respectively, but the defense couldn’t get a stop against Williams in the waning seconds on Saturday and instead find themselves amongst the rest of the one loss teams rooting for a Trinity loss (although aren’t we all rooting for a Trinity loss?). Unlike Amherst, whose loss against Middlebury a few weeks back raised as many questions about the actual quality of their team as much as it did their chances to get fitted for rings in November, this loss didn’t really do anything to make me feel that Middlebury can’t still sit atop the standings after 9 games. As I mentioned above, Middlebury still played great, Lebowitz ’18 was dynamite again, but Williams simply made more plays and won the game. This team is still a legitimate title contender, and although they can no longer go undefeated, their season was always going to boil down to Week 7 at Trinity. Win or lose against Williams, that was still going be the case. Beat the Bantams and they immediately become title favorites, lose to Trinity and start thinking about next year. This is still a very dangerous team.

4. Wesleyan

Wesleyan and Middlebury have the same record but Middlebury beat Wesleyan so they go ahead of them, nothing complicated about that. As much as it pains me to admit, I think this Wesleyan team is going to sneak up on someone in the next few weeks and be a serious spoiler in the title race. Yet the simple fact that I’m talking about a team that is tied for second as a potential spoiler and not a contender should tell you how much they’re flying under the radar. Their lone loss was a 30-27 Week 1 defeat to Middlebury in Middlebury, they beat Tufts at home, and they’ve taken care of their business against the bottom half of the league to find themselves at 4-1. Mark Piccirillo ’19 is probably the best player that no one is talking about, as his 388 passing yards against Bates kept him comfortably at the top of the passing charts, his 333.2 YPG first in the league. Piccirillo, however, also leads the league with 7 interceptions, and he is yet to have a game without one. If he can find a way to limit the turnovers, then this team is talented offensively to outscore any one team for 60 minutes. Mike Brueler ’18 has comfortably been the best WR in the league this year, running away with the gold medal for receptions and receiving yards, and still leading in touchdowns as well. If Piccirillo and Brueler bring their A game they can throw a wrench in someone’s title plans. While I don’t think they quite have it defensively this year to make a serious splash, I’m confident enough to know that they are going to play a crucial role in the outcome of this season.

Mark Piccirillo ’18 leads the league in passing yards per game with 332, and makes the Cardinals offense dangerous to anyone.

5. Amherst

This team gives me a headache. I simply don’t know what to make of them. They’ve scored no less than 31 points in a game all season, and they lead the league in scoring offense with 35.8 points per game. But these guys don’t seem to scare anybody this year. Maybe it’s because of the fact that there isn’t one guy on the offensive side of the ball that scares anybody. Jack Hickey ’19 leads the top rushing offense in the NESCAC, but only averages 79.4 yards a game as he is simply half of their two-pronged attack alongside Hasani Figueroa ’18. Maybe it’s because at this point in the year I don’t think there are a lot of people who have much hope for Reece Foy ’18 to return to the POY caliber player he was before his injury, and Ollie Eberth ’20’s name is not going to be one of the first to come up in a debate over who the best quarterback in the NESCAC is. Maybe it’s because they have 4 wins over the 4 worst teams in the league and lost to the only good team they played in Middlebury. Regardless of what it is, I don’t think there is a team in this league with more to prove than the Purple and White. Their four remaining opponents are a combined 16-4, with the “worst” of those teams being Tufts, and Ellis Oval is never a fun place to play. The matchup I’m most looking forward to this week is Wesleyan @ Amherst because I think it’s the matchup we will learn the most from. Amherst’s performance this week will be the strongest indicator yet of what kind team they’re shaping up to be, which is anywhere from a 4-5 team to an 8-1 team.

6. Tufts

Ahead of the Jumbos are 5 teams with better records, and below them are 4 teams with worse records, so slotting them in 6 was as easy as it gets this week. Tufts probably isn’t the 6th best team in this league, if I had to guess I think they’ll finish somewhere in the top 4, but as a product of some close games and outrageously lopsided scheduling to begin the season, this is where they stand. A loss to Wesleyan in Middletown in overtime, and a one possession loss to Trinity, a game in which they more than likely would’ve won if not for Dominque Seagears ’18’s 100 yard interception return for a touchdown, a play that turned what would’ve been a 14-7 score line in favor of Tufts into 13-7 the other way. But if we’re counting Williams’ 17-9 loss to Trinity as an impressive showing, then I suppose we have to feel this way about Tufts as well, who were able to put up more points on Trinity than any other team this year.

I know I sound like a broken record here, but this Tufts team’s deal isn’t different than any of the other teams chasing after the top. They have weapons on offense, and some guys on defense, but neither side is really dominant enough to put a scare in you. Ryan McDonald ’18 has proven his ability has a dual threat QB and Jack Dolan ’19 is as dangerous a big play threat as there is in the league, but they have yet to find a way to fill the Chance Brady sized hole in their ground game. McDonald carries for 76.4 yards a game, but it’s hard to really set the tone with a quarterback as your main rushing threat. Defensively, it seems like they have some talented guys, but it just hasn’t come together. The senior trio of monsters in Zach Thomas, Micah Adickes, and Doug Harrison all rank in the top 5 in the league in sacks, and the team itself is 1st with 21, but their ability to get to the quarterback hasn’t really amounted to much as they rank 5th in run defense and 6th against the pass. The Jumbos, like everybody else, have a remaining schedule that could go either way, as they are definitely capable of beating any of Williams, Amherst, Colby, and Middlebury. We will know a lot more about how good this team is after they visit Williams on Saturday.

7. Hamilton

Mitch Bierman
Mitch Bierman ’21 wins both the “Breakout Star of the Week” award and the “Looks Most Like Landry Clarke from FNL” Award. (Courtesy of Hamilton Athletics)

Someone had to win this game Hamilton-Bowdoin game and it was the Continentals who escaped from the pack of winless teams to go to 1-4. Kenny Gray ’20 continued his strong individual season going 20-34 for 240 yards and 3 TDs, but the real story on offense for Hamilton was the breakout game of first year running back Mitch Bierman who ran for a career high 158 yards on 22 carries, providing a balanced attack for their first win of the season. Although by all accounts it has been a disappointing season for Hamilton, they still have a really good chance to finish 3-6 and end the season on a high note. They have Colby and Bates at home, both matchups in which they are the better team, and then they travel to both Williams and Middlebury. I’m fairly confident in counting both of these games as losses, but if the Conts want to turn that into bulletin board material and maybe catch one of those two looking past them at other obstacles in their race to a title, then I’m sure that would also be a tremendous moment for them as a program, and Pete could hop right back on as the conductor of the “Hamilton is Good” train for the 2018 campaign.

8. Bates

As long as these three teams remain winless, which unfortunately looks like it might carry on for another week, the moral victory trophy is going to be handed out on a relative week by week basis. Colby got pasted at home by Amherst, Bowdoin lost to previously winless Hamilton at home, and Bates went to Wesleyan and scored 23 points in a loss, losing by the least. So they will occupy the highly coveted 8th spot for this week.

On a more serious football note, Bates did impress in their trip to Wesleyan. Their option attack showed signs of life as they logged 287 yards rushing. Brendan Costa ’21 had his best game as the Bates QB1 with 170 rushing yards, but most importantly didn’t turn the ball over once, a significant improvement from his 4 interceptions in Williamstown the week before. No one’s asking Costa to look like Cam Newton, but if they’re going to prioritize the run then they need to take better care of the ball in passing situations. The defense continues to get smoked, as they allowed 41 more points this week, which actually brings their average DOWN to 43.4 points allowed a week. I don’t have a spin zone for that, the defense is just downright bad, but the offense trended in the right direction this week. Their run of pain should come to an end after they host Middlebury this week (don’t get your hopes up folks), and we’ll see how they can finish up against Colby, Bowdoin, and Hamilton.

 9. Bowdoin

Nate Richam ’20 is hidden on an otherwise weak offense, but is one of the best running backs in the league.

Bowdoin lost to a previously winless team in Hamilton, and Colby got smoked by a quite decent team in Amherst, but the Polar Bears are going to occupy the 9 spot this week. I know I said that the moral victory trophy and 8th spot would be the decided on a relative week by week basis, but that’s not going to be the case at 9. Neither Bowdoin or Colby are any good, but Colby’s offense is so downright poor (5.4 points/184.2 yards a game), that it’s hard to justify putting them over anyone. We are at the point in the year for these bottom tier teams that you just have to find a couple of silver linings and focus on those. Nate Richam ’20 had some flashes of production, and first year quarterback Griff Stalcup ’21 played turnover free football. They are both obviously still young and hopefully can be two pillars to build on moving forward.

10. Colby

I really don’t have a whole to say here. Colby vs. the top offense in the NESCAC was always going to be ugly and Amherst didn’t disappoint, hanging 40 on the Mules. Just as Bates’ “holding” Wesleyan to 41 points lowered their points allowed average, Colby’s scoring 7 raised their offensive to a whopping 5.4 scored a game. This goes without saying but the biggest problem, among many, for this team is that they simply don’t have any weapons. Jake Schwern ’19 is both their leading rusher and their leading receiver, which is more of an indication that they have no one who can make plays downfield or a quarterback that can get it to them.

Luckily for Colby and Bowdoin, and Bates I guess, although my Maine sources tell me they are the third wheel in this whole Maine rivalry (just like Wesleyan in the Little Three even if they don’t realize it), is that they still have each other to look forward to, and any team with an archrival can tell you that having that game (or games) at the end of the season is like having your own championship or bowl game to play for. If Williams or Bowdoin went 1-7 last year but beat Amherst or Colby, respectively, in Week 8, it sure wouldn’t have felt like they went 1-7, and the same will go for these teams this year. They still have something to play for.

 

Merrily We Roll Along: Power Rankings 4/21


As we reach the final third of the season, a look at the NESCAC baseball landscape reveals the fierce competition throughout the conference. No team has locked up a bid and the final few weekend series’ hold more weight than ever before. Some teams are in must win situations with others have played themselves into good positions. This iteration of the Power Rankings shows movement from eight of the ten teams after a little over a week of games and a surprising weekend.

  1. Tufts

Despite a tough weekend for the Jumbos, Tufts still maintains its number one spot in the power rankings. A loss to 7-17 (2-7) Colby team brought this team back to reality after a scorching hot start including their run last season. However, still posting a 19-4-1 overall record and sitting in second place in the NESCAC East, Tufts has little reason to worry. Reigning NESCAC Pitcher of Year Speros Varinos ’17 is defending his title with an essentially perfect season thus far at 6-0 in 6 starts with a 1.50 ERA and league leading 46 strikeouts, 10 ahead of the next closest total. The lineup, hitting a combined .325, is led by Nick Falkson ’18, who is in the running for a title of his own – NESCAC Player of the Year. The infielder is hitting .402 and leading the league with 28 RBI’s. However, a crucial part of this lineup is filled with sophomores Casey Santos-Ocampo ’19 and Will Shackelford ’19 . Santos-Ocampo has provided clutch at bats and speed on the base paths, scoring 18 runs and knocking in 20 more. Shackelford has added a hot bat to his defensive soundness, hitting a phenomenal .434 with only 4 strikeouts in 53 at-bats. The Jumbos have a huge weekend series at home against Bowdoin, which could ultimately decide who makes the NESCAC playoffs, but as long as Tufts sticks to what they do best, they’ll be in a good spot heading forward toward the playoffs.

  1. Bates

Bates has been the San Antonio Spurs of the NESCAC so far this spring. They have no league leaders and no standout superstar, but are a fundamentally sound team. The Bobcats get the job done, which is why they jump to number two in this week’s power rankings. Holding Conference best 6-0 record, Bates has its eyes set on the playoffs. A convincing sweep of Bowdoin, in which the staff allowed only 8 runs total,

Connor Speed ’18 has carried an excellent Bates pitching staff this season.

proved that Bates is ready to compete with the higher echelon of the conference and make some noise in the postseason. The Bobcats will rely on their pitching staff to do so. With a league leading team ERA of 3.12 (2.47 in conference), this staff has to potential to shut down any offense in the league. Only giving up slightly over 3 runs a game has allowed the team to win 11 of 16 so far despite their struggling offense. However, these numbers come with a big asterisk, as their two series sweeps have come against weaker offenses in Colby and Bowdoin. Look for Connor Speed ’18 to lead the staff as the team aims to continue their dominance on the mound. For now though, Bates has put themselves in a good position for a postseason bid.

  1. Wesleyan

Wesleyan holds a slim .5 game lead in the West Division and are tasked with facing a hot Middlebury squad this weekend. So far this season has been not up to Wesleyan’s standards at the plate. Hitting a mediocre .291, the Cardinal bats look to heat up to their potential as the season progresses. Will O’Sullivan ’17 is starting the charge hitting an impressive .360 and team leading 8 doubles. Adding power to lineup is Junior Matt Jeye ’18 who is tied for the league lead with 3 homeruns. On the mound, the Cardinals have been consistent if anything as they have been racking up strikeouts. In conference, they strike out 7.30 batters per nine innings – nearly a strikeout an inning. Leading the bullpen is two-way player Ryan Earle ’19 who has a league leading 4 saves along with a minimal 1.06 ERA. Wesleyan hasn’t had exactly the start they were expecting but have been playing well enough to stay atop a tight division. As the Cardinal bats start hitting up to their potential, look for this team to be dangerous towards the end of the season.

  1. Amherst

Since last power rankings, Amherst has gone 4-0 including a sweep against a tough Williams squad. This is partly in thanks to the recent success of its lineup. In his last season, Yanni Thanopoulos is in the running for NESCAC Player of the Year, hitting .400 with 26 RBI’s. Harry Roberson has also contributed power to the lineup slugging an impressive .627 with 10 doubles, 2 triples, and 2 homeruns. However, despite hitting a conference best .330, Amherst has only a .500 record at 10-10. This is  due entirely to their disastrous pitching. The staff has a combined 5.82 ERA (which has improved since last week), which includes 9 homeruns and nearly 200 hits in only 173.1innings. The only bright spot is consistent starter Jackson Volle ’17 who has gone 4-0 with a 1.82 ERA in team leading 24.2 innings pitched. Volle has kept this Amherst team relevant with his impressive performances and routine domination of the NESCAC bats. After him though, Amherst’s arms need to step up their game. With a dangerous lineup, this team is never out of any game, but in order to keep their current postseason bid, Amherst will need to find support from their staff.

  1. Williams
Kellen Hatheway
Kellen Hatheway ’19 could follow up is ROY season with a POY trophy this year.

Williams has had a similar start to the season as Amherst. Their offense is hard to stop, with a team average of .310. Kellen Hatheway ‘19, one year removed from his NESCAC Rookie of the Year campaign now is gunning for NESCAC Player of the Year. The sophomore is hitting a conference leading .446 highlighted by 7 doubles and 3 triples. He has additionally added 7 stolen bases to his outstanding numbers. Not to be shadowed by the young star, Junior Jack Roberts ’18 has put together a solid season at the plate as well hitting .391 for the Williams squad. However, despite this strong lineup, Williams has struggled due to the inconsistency of the rotation. The 4.72 team ERA shows the difficulty Williams arms have had. The reason behind this though, could be due to Coach Barrale’s decision to ride his young arms. Standout rookie John Lamont ’20 has had a very successful start to the season, having gone 2-1 with a 2.77 ERA. Additionally, classmate Kyle Dean ’20 has proven he can compete with the best of the ‘CAC, as he has gone 17.2 innings giving up only 2 runs. Williams’s success depends heavily on its young core, but the veterans, especially in the bullpen need to perform for Williams to compete with the top of the league.

  1. Middlebury

Middlebury’s sweep of Hamilton gave them a much-needed jump in the West Division. The Panthers in-conference and overall record perfectly reflect the games they’ve played so far. Sitting one game above and below .500, respectively, Middlebury has kept their games close, as 15 of the 19 games played have been decided by 3 or less runs. New coach Mike Leonard has relied on his senior talent in Jason Lock ’17 and Ryan Rizzo ’17, who are hitting .397 and .355 respectively. These leaders are the heart of a productive Middlebury lineup (hitting .313 as a team.) Similar to other teams in the Conference, Middlebury has found that its weakness is in the pitching staff. The Panthers have the second worst ERA in the NESCAC for both in-conference and overall play. The star in the rotation has been freshman Spencer Shores ’20 who has gone 2-0 in 28.2 innings pitched with a 2.51 ERA. It will take a strong performance for the rest of the season, but Middlebury is back in the race for one of the two playoff spots in the West Division. If the veterans in the rotation can sharpen their game, Middlebury can sneak its way into the postseason.

  1. Bowdoin
Brandon Lopez
Brandon Lopez ’18 (Courtesy of Bowdoin Athletics)

Bowdoin is quietly riding a 5 game winning streak going into a crucial matchup against Tufts this weekend. Included in this streak is a sweep of Trinity College which brought their in-conference record to 3-3, only one game behind Tufts for the second spot in the division. The winner of this series will have control over the second bid for the playoffs. Bowdoin’s success has not come from any star power, but just clutch play and solid pitching. All three Trinity games were close, despite a lineup that is hitting is measly .270 and has scored only 83 runs in 23 games. Brandon Lopez ’19 is by far the team’s MVP thus far. He is one of the few Polar Bears who has found success at the plate, hitting .328 with team leading 10 RBI’s. Lopez also has led the pitching staff with a 3-0 record and a 1.29 ERA. Behind him is Max Vogel-Freedman ’18 who has a 2.16 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 25 innings pitched. This Bowdoin staff has brought the team into the race for a playoff bid. Their in-conference ERA sits at a meager 2.68. However, the Polar Bear arms will face their toughest test yet against the dynamic Tufts offense. Winning the series against Tufts would solidify Bowdoin’s relevancy in NESCAC baseball.

  1. Trinity

Trinity lost a tough series to Bowdoin, which severely hurt their opportunity for a playoff bid and dropped them steeply in the power rankings. A lot must go Trinity’s way, starting with a series sweep over first place Bates this upcoming weekend. To complete this daunting task, the Bantams must hit a hot streak at the plate. After Brendan Pierce ’18, this lineup, while it certainly can hit, doesn’t have too much power in their bats. Trinity must string together hits and not leave men on base. When the offense is rolling, it is usually due to senior Nick Dibenedetto ’17. His season has satisfied the high expectations going into the year. He is hitting .366 with a .512 slugging percentage. On the bump, Erik Mohl ’19 has put together a breakout year thus far. In his 12 appearances, Mohl has a 6-1 record and a 2.62 ERA in team high 34.1 innings. After the sophomore, however, Trinity has run into issues. Coach Bryan Adamski continues his search for a solution, as 10 pitchers in the staff have 7 or more appearances. While unlikely to earn a playoff bid after losing the series to Bowdoin, Trinity has the potential to shake up the standings with the potential talent on the team.

  1. Hamilton

Hamilton’s out-of-conference record, 11-7, varies drastically from their in-conference record, 0-5. This slow start has already dug them a deep hole in the tough West Division. The future doesn’t look too bright either as the team’s top six hitters are graduating this spring. One of them, Kenny Collins ‘17 has shown his versatility hitting .400 while also leading the league with 15 stolen bases (caught only once). Ryan Wolfsberg ’17 has also put together a strong final season, hitting .387. The pitching staff is in a much different position. After Finlay O’Hara ’17 who has a 1.50 ERA, the rest of the rotation and bullpen is returning next season. Dan DePaoli ’18 has put together a successful season behind O’Hara. However, his 2.21 ERA has resulted in a mediocre 3-3 record. Hamilton is better suited off getting young guys experience for next season, as this year’s team will likely miss out on the playoffs.

  1. Colby

Despite stealing a game against a strong Tufts team, Colby has struggled in conference play, compiling a 2-7 record. This record, is described perfectly by the run differential in these game: -40. One of the major factors in this statistic is the inability of the Mules team to hit the ball. The team is hitting a mere .265, despite junior Matt Treveloni’s efforts at the plate, hitting .353. In order to climb out of last place, the Mules bats must heat up. On the opposite side, the Colby staff has shown some bright spots. First year player Taimu Ito ’20 has impressed with team leading 27 innings pitched and a 3.33 ERA. Additionally, John Baron ’18 has relied on his curveball to pitch 14.2 innings with a 1.84 ERA. However, the relative success of the Mules’ bullpen hasn’t been enough to make up for an inefficient offense. A four game series against Williams is approaching and Colby will look to get out of last in the East with a series win.

Inconsistency, Thy Name is… : Power Rankings 2/2

1.) #9 Tufts (16-4, 6-1)

I know that they just had a pretty ugly loss to UMass Dartmouth two nights ago to follow up their lapse in Lewiston, but the Jumbos maintain a tenuous hold on the top spot. It’s not an excuse but rather a glaring truth: the Jumbos miss their big man. Guess where Bates is strongest? The post. So, while a shooting line 36.1/18.5/53.6 is pretty inexcusable, that along with a missing Palleschi, along with Bates hosting a NESCAC game at Alumni Gymnasium is the perfect storm for a Bobcats win. Meanwhile, Bates shot 43.8/50.0/81.8. Again, not excusable numbers to allow by the Jumbos defense, but I still think this game was a fluke and that the Jumbos are deserving of this spot. That being said, they head to Trinity and then Amherst this weekend, their biggest test of the year thus far. Trinity poses another match-up nightmare down low, so Drew Madsen ‘17 and Pat Racy ‘20 are going to have to step up on the defensive end. And Amherst, well, it’s just Amherst. You can never overlook that team. This weekend will be a very telling one for Coach Sheldon’s squad. Is Tufts tough or fake tough?

2.) #23 Wesleyan (16-4, 4-3)

Wesleyan decided to try to be a bit sneakier this weekend by bringing Joseph Kuo ‘17 off the bench. Guess what – their sneak attack worked! It actually worked so well that I wouldn’t be surprised if Coach Joe Reilly tries it again on Friday against Williams. Kuo dominated to the tune of 20 points on 10-16 shooting in his newly developed sixth man role, just punishing the bigs of Conn College. Jordan Bonner ‘19 also qualifies for being credited with a stellar performance off the bench, as he put up 23 points, primarily on the back of his three-point shooting. I’d also like to say that while Nathan Krill ‘18  might be the craziest kid on the court in the NESCAC, he might also be the toughest. His presence on the court is not only electric from a fan’s perspective (I watched an incredible double technical occur between Krill and Tufts’ Ben Engvall ‘18 last week), but also in terms of contributions to Wesleyan’s system. The Cards rely on his grit on the boards and on loose balls, as the attention he draws opens the floor up for other guys to succeed. Wesleyan is beatable for sure, but they are a tough match-up for whoever draws the corresponding seed in the NESCAC tournament.

3.) #16 Middlebury (16-3, 4-2)

Bryan Jones ’17 poured in a career high 25, helping Middlebury right the ship in league play against Hamilton.

Middlebury has been very consistent this year aside from their blowout loss to Williams a week and a half ago. Pete was an emotional wreck following that loss, but the Panthers bounced back this weekend and smacked the living daylights out of Hamilton. Simply put, Middlebury posted video game numbers on the poor Continentals, shooting an ungodly 62.0/59.3/91.7 on the day. While I don’t anticipate Middlebury achieving another 115-point performance in a NESCAC game, they have consistently shared the ball better than the rest of the conference, resulting in league-leading numbers in both assists and shooting percentage. While Jake Brown ‘17 doesn’t shoot the most efficiently on the Midd roster, he is largely responsible for the team’s shooting. Not only does he lead the team (and league) in assists, but Brown’s ability to penetrate and force help out of opposing defenders leads to open shots 2-3 passes down the line. This should be a pretty straightforward weekend for Middlebury, but if they drop one to either Colby or Bowdoin then maybe they’ve got some more glaring issues than I have realized.

4.) #11 Amherst (14-4, 4-2)

While Middlebury has been mostly consistent all season, Amherst has not been, which explains my ranking them lower than both Middlebury and Wesleyan in the Power Rankings despite being a higher national seed. Every team in the conference has some bad losses, but Amherst’s back-to-back losses to Wesleyan and Conn College are of some concern. However, it’s not just Amherst’s losses that keep me on edge. To follow up that 0-2 weekend, Amherst had to put together quite the comeback against lowly Bowdoin at home in order to sneak away with a win. While I am used an Amherst that blows most teams out (as are most people probably), they still rebounded from the aforementioned three game stretch with a string of solid victories. As we all know, Colby has been the doormat of the NESCAC this year so far, but Amherst still needed to win convincingly and they did. Williams, though not in the top half of the NESCAC this year, is a solid team and is Amherst’s hated rival, so an 8-point mid-week is impressive. Then, the most telling is the 66-53 W against Trinity. Amherst hosted the Bantams and beat them at their own game, holding Trinity to just 53 points (!!) on 32.2% shooting while allowing just 1-14 shooting from beyond the arc. The usual suspects (Jayde Dawson ‘17, Johnny McCarthy ‘18, and Michael Riopel ‘18),  led the way for Coach Hixon in the scoring department and the ex-LJs got it done. Like Tufts, this coming weekend is the most telling of the season for Amherst as they host Bates and the Jumbos themselves. A 2-0 weekend would tell us what the rest of the league fears: that Amherst is back.

5.) Trinity (13-7, 4-2)

Ed Ogundeko ’17 dominates both ends for the Bantams.

You won’t believe I’m saying this, but this weekend is a very telling weekend for Trinity (mix up your damn phrasing, Rory!!!). Seriously though, the Bants can more or less take the reigns with a sweep of Tufts and Bates this weekend, and they have a very good chance to do so. While they took the L this weekend to Amherst, that was a very good loss for Trinity. I don’t mean this necessarily in the way they played was good and they just got a couple bad bounces (-5 turnover differential, relying far too heavily on one player offensively, terrible shooting across the board), but in the sense that the Bantams proved a couple things to themselves. First of all, they proved that they can take advantage of mismatches in the post against good teams. Ed Ogundeko ‘17 had 19/11 and held David George to 6/4. Secondly, they proved that even shooting as poorly from deep as they did (1-14), they could still find themselves in the game until free throws put them away at the end. Looking ahead to Friday, Ogundeko has a highly favorable matchup against Tufts, and if he gets some efficient support offensively from the guards, Big Ed will have a chance to dominate. Bates is a tougher matchup for Trinity, but again, success is going to be reliant on the guard-play of the Bantams, specifically Langdon Neal ‘17 and Chris Turnbull ‘17.

6.) Bates (15-6, 4-3)

My friend from Bates (who for clarification, is unassociated with the Bates Men’s Basketball team except as a fan), has been describing the Bobcats to me as the hottest team in the ‘CAC this week. While a 3-game winning streak (just one conference game) following a 3-game losing streak (all conference games) does not scream “on fire” to me, I will say that Bates made Tufts look foolish on Saturday. While poor shooting is generally a reflection of both teams and not just tough defense, Bates forced Tufts into difficult shots and dominated them offensively. The Bobcats, especially Jerome Darling ‘17, put on a clinic on how to shoot three-pointers. They also shot 18-22 from the free throw line, which played a huge part in helping them seal the deal. I will say, however, that I think Bates should be concerned about this win giving them false confidence for a number of reasons. First of all, it took one of the worst shooting performances of the season for them to topple Tufts. The Bobcats also allowed their opponents to shoot 28 free throws, something that I don’t think I’ve seen a team do in a win that didn’t involve any overtime. Bates, a team whose system involves two big men, allowed Tufts, a team whose system involves just one big man (and lacked their starting big man), to beat them on the boards by seven. While Marcus Delpeche ‘17 pulled the weight with 28/11, rightfully earning him NESCAC POW honors, his twin brother Malcolm proved to be pretty ineffective on Saturday, shooting 2-10 from the field and grabbing just three boards. Bates NEEDS these two to work in tandem on the boards at the very least, but it would be a big boost for them if they could have the twins both scoring effectively.

7.) Hamilton (14-5, 3-3)

Hamilton is a solid team. They’ve got some great young talent, and I think they are going to get even better in the next couple years. Right now, however, it is mostly potential that they possess, and they are vulnerable in a few different aspects, the first of which is down in the post. While Andrew Groll ‘19 is a solid player and a tenacious rebounder, he is also really the only real presence down on the block for the Continentals. While they have some size in their perimeter players (Joe Pucci ‘18 – 6’6”, Peter Hoffmann – 6’5”), Hamilton can get exposed on the boards and in the paint at times, especially against teams with solid post players and bigger guards. In NESCAC losses, they have allowed 40.66 PPG in the paint, showing that conference opponents know

Kena Gilmour ’20
(Courtesy of Hamilton Athletics)

how to expose this glaring hole in Hamilton defense. The emergence of Kena Gilmour ‘20 as of late is definitely encouraging, and he is a prime candidate to win Rookie of the Year, but aside from Gilmour the offensive production off the bench is limited at best. Hamilton has the weapons to surprise some teams come tournament time, but they still need to qualify. Ending the season with 4 tough conference games leaves a lot up in the air as to what will happen, but it is worth noting that the last two are against Trinity and Amherst.

8.) Williams (14-6, 2-4)

Williams has surprised me so far this year, and not in a good way. With the weapons that Williams returned at the beginning of the year, I thought for sure that they would be in the top half of the NESCAC standings battling for home court advantage in the playoffs. Now, here we are six games into the NESCAC season and Williams is ranked eighth in the conference standings. While the Ephs have been decent offensively, the Ephs just simply haven’t done enough to stop opposing players from scoring. Part of this is due to their post presence, or lack thereof, which rears its head on the boards and in the paint. Yes, Williams can get hot, especially from beyond the arc, and when they do they certainly have what it takes to win (see: Middlebury), but their lack of consistency is a problem, and is also the reason that they are a bubble playoff team.

9.) Conn College (12-8, 2-5)

Speaking of inconsistency…Conn has shown that they can really, really good at times. Unfortunately for the Camels, those times are few and far between. Wins against Amherst and Bates definitely show promise, but double-digit losses to Hamilton, Trinity, Tufts and Wesleyan leave young NESCAC bloggers wondering who the Camels really are. The issue, in my opinion, is that they have too many guys that want to be “the guy,” and while that’s a harsh critique, there’s definitely an argument there. In NESCAC play, Conn shoots just 39.7% from the field and 31.2% from beyond the arc. Keeping those percentages in mind and then take a look at shot totals. They’ve taken the second most shots and the fourth most three-pointers. Yes, they have played seven conference games while some have played just six, but still, the lack of offensive efficiency that the Camels boast has to be at least a bit concerning. To go along with their poor shooting, Conn allows their opponents to shoot the highest percentage in NESCAC play…not exactly a recipe for success. I’m not saying Conn can’t make the playoffs, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they manage to fumble the opportunity to close the season playing Williams, Bowdoin and Colby, the three worst teams in the league besides the Camels.

10.) Colby (10-9, 1-5)

They’re on the board! Colby grabbed their first win of the NESCAC season this weekend as they hosted rival Bowdoin in one of the best games of the weekend. Patrick Stewart ‘17 played like a damn All-Star, netting 28 points to lead the way for the Mules, and Sam Jefferson ‘20 showed the age is just a number, adding a nice 17 points of his own. The Mules owned the arc and drained 12 threes on the day (albeit on 32 attempts) to propel them to victory. Though they haven’t necessarily looked like a playoff team this year, Colby is on the bubble as this win brings them just one shy of Williams, the current eighth place team. It’s a tough road ahead for Colby, but maybe they can pull this off!

11.) Bowdoin (10-9, 1-5)

Bowdoin gave Colby their first loss of the NESCAC season this weekend to extend their NESCAC skid to three straight losses. Like I feared at the beginning of the season, Bowdoin is just far too reliant on Jack Simonds ‘19, so when he only put up 13 points against the Mules, Bowdoin was in trouble. They did get an outstanding performance from Jack Bors ‘19, who tallied 24 points on 8-12 shooting (5-8 from three-point land), but it was the inability of the Polar Bears to defend the three-point line themselves that buried them in Waterville. Bowdoin couldn’t quite pull off the upset at Amherst a couple weeks ago, but they’ll have a few more upset opportunities before the season is over as they face Hamilton, Middlebury, Wesleyan and Conn to wrap up NESCAC play. If they want to make the playoffs, they’ll have to win at least a couple of these games.

It’s Way Too Early For Power Rankings: Power Rankings 12/14

By popular demand (Pete’s note: pretty sure I’m the only one who even requested this,) here are the first NBN power rankings of the 2016-2017 basketball season. I have finals to study for, so I’m not going to spend time on a long-winded intro. NESCAC basketball has been great so far, but I just can’t wait for January so that we can see where everyone actually stacks up. Now, here are the rankings at a point in the season that is far too early to make rankings.

1.) Amherst (8-0, 0-0)

Image result for joey flannery babson
I feel like Joey Flannery is basically a NESCAC player at this point with the amount of love that we’re giving him lately, but the kid can ball.

They’re the number one team in the country, and they’re obviously the number one team in NESCAC as well. Amherst has been dominant so far this year against mostly far inferior competition, but they have also picked up the most impressive win in the country so far in a double-overtime thriller against #2 Babson last week. While Babson’s Joey Flannery ‘17 dropped 42 to put away Tufts just a few weeks prior, Amherst was able to withstand Flannery’s 41 thanks to some late-game heroics from Johnny McCarthy ‘18 and Jayde Dawson ‘17. Though it wasn’t the most efficient 32 (13-30 from the field), Dawson showed that he could put the ball in the basket when it counted. He’s now third in the league with 18.3 PPG, the leading scorer for Coach Hixon’s team. Amherst relies on Dawson and McCarthy primarily on offense, but the rest of their scoring is spread pretty evenly between the seven other players averaging 12+ minutes per game. Balance, balance, balance – that is what Amherst is about at this point in the year

2.) Wesleyan (9-0, 0-0)

Speaking of balance, Wesleyan is displaying just that through their first nine games. The Cardinals have four players averaging double-digits so far (Jordan Bonner, Salim Green, Harry Rafferty, and Joseph Kuo), and three others averaging over 7.0 PPG (Nathan Krill, Andrew Gardiner, and Kevin O’Brien). This widespread attack has given opposing defenses headaches, and these headaches have even carried over to the other end of the court. Wesleyan is allowing the fewest points per game so far this season. They’re not blocking an ungodly amount of shots, they’re not forcing a ridiculous amount of turnovers, the Cardinals are just baiting their opponents into tough shots, leading to league-bests in opponent’s FG% (34%) and opponent’s three-point FG% (28.5%). They also took down a strong Williams team at home on December 3rd, showing that the Cardinals are far from rebuilding, as we thought they might this year.

3.) Middlebury (7-1, 0-0)

If you’ve been keeping up with our sparsely posted articles, you know a lot about the Panthers since the Middlebury section takes up half of every one of Pete’s articles. Like Pete noted on Monday, the Panthers are a very solid 7-1 right now, with their lone loss coming to Endicott, who only just dropped out of the Top 25. What concerns me in the long run for Middlebury is that they allow opponents to shoot 42.5% from the field, the worst mark in the league. However, Middlebury’s own shooting percentage, 49.7%, goes for the best shooting efficiency in the league, so the Panthers will probably be alright. One reason they shoot so well is because they lead the league in assists.  They are the only team in the NESCAC who can boast 20+ AST/G. If Jake Brown ‘17 and Jack Daly ‘18 remain among the ranks of the top 5 dime-droppers in the conference, Middlebury will be pretty tough to shut down offensively.

4.) Tufts (8-2, 0-0)

I’m not saying I jinxed the Jumbos in my most recent post, but I’m not not saying it. As soon as I posted about how Tufts and Amherst deserved more credit for their play, Tufts nearly gave away a game to Brandeis, they got worked by Joey Flannery and the Babson Beavers, and then lost on a buzzer beater to a far less talented UMass-Boston team. Nonetheless, Tufts bounced back against Wentworth on Saturday with a nice 15-point victory led by a four-pronged attack of Vinny Pace ‘18, Tarik Smith ‘17, Everett Dayton ‘18, and Tom Palleschi ‘17. One of the  issues in their slide last week was that they relied far too heavily on Pace to bail them out, an issue that started all the way back against WPI. Well, Dayton must have realized this as well, because in the last two games he has gone for 16 and 14 points while shooting 50% from the field. If the Jumbos want to stop dropping in the rankings, Tufts is going to need Dayton to keep playing well, because so far they have lacked the consistent offensive punch in the interior that they possessed last winter.

5.) Williams (8-1, 0-0)

I feel bad putting the Ephs in the five spot since their only loss came against #22 Wesleyan, but for a very young Williams team, things are looking good so far. Dan Aronowitz ‘17 is leading the way once again for Coach App’s squad with 18.6 PPG, 2.2 AST/G, and 4.3 REB/G, and he has positioned himself nicely in the Player of the Year race as we head into winter break. Aronowitz is aided primarily by Cole Teal ‘18 and Kyle Scadlock ‘19 on the offensive end, while Bobby Casey ‘19 and James Heskett ‘19 have also chipped in quite a bit. The post is what we figured would be the weak spot for the Ephs, and in their lone loss to Wesleyan, they were outscored 34-18 in the paint. Now I know that not all points in the paint come via post players, but lack of an imposing defensive presence down low begs questions about whether Williams will be able to maintain their current success. If they can figure it out, however, the Ephs will be alright.

6.) Hamilton (6-2, 0-0)

Image result for hamilton cast
OH you didn’t mean this “Hamilton cast?”

I’ll be honest, Hamilton has been the biggest surprise for me so far this season. I know they have not been too competitive in NESCAC play in recent years, but I truly believe this is a different Continentals team than we’ve seen in awhile. The Hamilton offense is led by a very young cast: Tim Doyle ‘19 (20.0 PPG, note that Doyle has only played in three of Hamilton’s eight games), Peter Hoffman ‘19 (16.3 PPG), and Michael Grassey ‘19 (16.0 PPG) do the bulk of the damage, while Kena Gilmour ‘20 also chips in with 10.0 PPG. The Continentals are a pretty solid rebounding team, led by Grassey and Andrew Groll ‘19, who are 7th and 9th in the NESCAC respectively. Hamilton is one of the youngest teams in the league, but they were last year as well, which allowed the class of 2019 to gain valuable on-court experience. I think that Hamilton will have at least one big upset this year, but I don’t think they’re quite mature enough to topple some of the beasts at the top of the conference. I suppose we’ll see when league action begins.

7.) Conn College (7-1, 0-0)

Conn College looked pretty good at this point last season, but they fell off when NESCAC play rolled around as they were unable to finish some games the way they wanted to. However, Conn looks to be a much more cohesive unit thus far, and they’ve been scoring in bunches this year. The Camels lead the league with 86.8 PPG, and it has a full team effort on the offensive end as six (!!) different Conn players are averaging at least 11 PPG through their first eight contests. However, one cause of concern, and maybe where the challenges of NESCAC play will catch up to Conn, is that their bench is not very deep. It’s more or less a seven man rotation for Conn, which will be thin when conference action begins in January. Additionally, the Camels are fully reliant on their ability to score the ball – they are last in the league in points allowed, and as we saw against Wesleyan, when Conn doesn’t score well, they don’t play as well (Pete’s Note: Pretty sure this is how it works for most teams.) Conn looks to be a potential threat as of now, but unless they figure out their defense they will struggle in NESCAC play.

8.) Trinity (5-4, 0-0)

Very classic Trinity allowing just 64.8 PPG so far, but what’s a bit uncharacteristic is that they have not had the scoring to reward their defense. I will admit, their losses have not been the worst defeats in the history of Division III hoops – Southern Vermont was an NCAA tournament team last winter and Susquehanna is currently ranked 18th in the country, but regardless, I think the Bantams are scarily dependent on Ed Ogundeko ‘17. Trinity plays 9-10 deep, but Ogundeko is the only consistent scorer, and when he struggles, so does the team. In two of his three lowest scoring games, Trinity has lost. Their biggest issue offensively is without a doubt ball control. The Bantams are committing a dreadful 19.8 TO/G,and if this type of sloppy ball security continues, it would be hard-pressed to envision Trinity in the playoffs.

9.) Bowdoin (5-3, 0-0)

Jack Simonds
Jack Simonds ’19 is a serious contender for both Player of the Year and Best Hair in the League.

Though Bowdoin looked very pretty solid early on, it has become clear after eight games that this team is completely reliant on Jack Simonds ‘19. To a certain extent, this is fine – Simonds does lead the NESCAC in scoring after all, with 23.6 PPG – but it is to the point where Bowdoin refuses to even take him off the court. Simonds plays 35.1 minutes on average…I believe that that’s simply an unsustainable amount of playing time. What’s worse, Bowdoin doesn’t really have anyone else who can take over the scoring duties if he has an off day, and in the one game the sophomore scored less than 19 points (he scored 12), Bates handed Bowdoin their biggest loss of the season. The Polar Bears are just not that deep, and while Simonds has explosive potential on the offensive end, relying on one player is generally not the formula for success in the NESCAC.

10.) Bates (5-3, 0-0)

Marcus and Malcolm Delpeche are currently leading the Bobcats with 15.0 and 13.3 PPG respectively. Marcus is also second in the conference in rebounding (10.5 REB/G) while Malcolm is tied for fourth (9.4 REB/G), and Malcolm leads the NESCAC with 3.3 BLK/G. With all these positive signs, I can’t help but think back to previous years where the Delpeche twins have been solid during the non-conference portion of their schedules and then fallen off once January rolled around, but I’m hoping that this is the year that the two finally get over the hump and lead Bates back to the playoffs. The Bobcats did trounce Bowdoin by 14 last week, but they then suffered a devastating loss to Colby on Saturday after the Mules’ Patrick Stewart ‘17 converted an old-fashioned three-point play with 0.2 seconds left in regulation. Bates is a decent defensive team, but they rank last in points scored, so expect Bates to show off their Lewiston toughness come conference play.

11.) Colby (5-4, 0-0)

After losing what feels like a million seniors that graduated in May, the Mules are young. Really young. They only have two seniors and two juniors. They have eight (yes, eight) freshmen. So as not to leave out the class of 2019, I’ll note that there are three sophomore Mules on their roster, but I think my point is clear – this team lacks maturity, and that is one of the most important features for a NESCAC basketball team. Patrick Stewart ‘17, however, has captain(Kirk)ed Colby this season to the tune of 16.2 PPG. Unfortunately, he’s really been the only consistent threat for Colby, leading to some pretty inconsistent play. When the Mules took on Bowdoin in a nonconference matchup (who obviously know each other pretty well), Stewart was just 2-18 from the field with 7 points. Conference opponents are going to be able to shut down Stewart, so someone else is going to need to pull some of the scoring load. In each of their four losses, Colby has been outscored in the paint. That’s only happened one time when Colby has won, so they’re either going to need to figure out how to keep teams out of the paint, or they are going to have to start shooting higher than 32.8% from three-point land.

After the Fall: Week Seven Power Rankings

It is not my job, nor is this blog the place, to preach any sort of political ideology. And more than that, it might not even be productive. We are all now on the same side, the side of America. I’m speaking now not from a political pulpit but from a mental health pulpit. To any readers who are feeling broken down, hollowed out and left cold next to the curb by the results of the election, then there are two things that I feel we should remember. Firstly, the sun rose yesterday morning. There are still sunrises, sunsets, puppies, period TV shows about the 80’s, hugs from your mom, pizza, that feeling of waking up and realizing you still have time to sleep, someone playing with your hair, pickup basketball games, toddlers wearing hilariously mismatched outfits, YouTube videos of babies sleeping on cats, and millions of other beautiful things in the world. They still exist, and we should treasure them now more than ever.

And secondly, the fight is not over. The results of this election will bring social issues to the forefront in a way that many have never been before. It is our job now to keep them there. Whether you picket every day on the lawn of the White House or just treat everyone you know with love and respect, there are many ways still to make the world a better place. And more than that, there are many people still who will try their best to do it. Nothing can silence them. Be one of those people.

Anyway, contrary to that long-winded and preachy opening, we are still a sports blog. Week Seven’s games were notable in that they offered absolutely no clarity heading into the final weekend. Trinity, Wesleyan, Middlebury and Tufts all won handily, putting several possibilities in play for the final standings. Trinity of course still controls their own destiny and can end all the drama by taking care of business against Wesleyan, but if they don’t, all hell could break loose.  There are also interesting scenarios in the second tier of the league, as Bates has a real chance to finish fifth in the league at 4-4.  And as if that isn’t enough, NESCAC’s oldest rivalry rises again, as Amherst and Williams battle for literally only pride at this point.  Here’s how the teams stack up heading into the dramatic final act.

Trinity's Donahue Earns Third NESCAC Football Defensive Player of the Week Honor
Spencer Donahue ’17 led the Trinity defense to huge comeback win against Amherst
  1. Trinity

The Bantams had by far their toughest test of the season last weekend against Amherst.  Trinity trailed 14-10 heading into the fourth quarter, as Amherst’s defense shut down the dynamic duo of quarterback (and leader of a lovable gang of street kids in 1930’s Brooklyn) Sonny Puzzo and running back Max Chipouras.  However, Trinity, as great teams do, capitalized on Amherst’s mistakes, scoring a fumble return touchdown and an interception return touchdown to escape with a 24-14 win. They kept the Chipouras-Puzzo pair to just one touchdown between them (a pass from Puzzo to Darrien Myers ‘17) just a week after they combined for five against Middlebury.  Amherst laid down a blueprint on how to shut down Trinity, and I’m sure Wesleyan was paying close attention.

  1. Tufts

Tufts has been the closest thing NESCAC has to a Cinderella story this year, riding the broad shoulders of running back Chance Brady to a 6-1 record this season. The Jumbos have also made use of tremendous team chemistry this year, as evidenced by their ELECTRIC contribution to the growing #mannequinchallenge trend:

Just terrific execution all around.  Tufts slaughtered Colby last weekend 44-12, with Brady putting up his standard 167 yards and three touchdowns. The Jumbos travel down to Middlebury this weekend for a matchup that will determine which team has a shot at sharing the league title. And having seen what Max Chipouras did to Middlebury when they played Trinity (186 yards and three touchdowns) you have to like Chance Brady’s—and the rest of the team’s—chances. Keep an eye on Brady’s pursuit of the single-season TD record…he needs 2 to tie, 3 to break it…very possible.

  1. Middlebury
Image result for jared lebowitz
Jared Lebowitz ’18 hopes to lead the Panthers to a share of the league championship this weekend.

After a demoralizing loss to Trinity, the Panthers were in dire need of a bounceback win heading into their showdown with Tufts. They got that and then some against Hamilton. Quarterback Jared Lebowitz rediscovered the form that made him a POY favorite early in the season (412 yards and four touchdowns,) and the powerful secondary recorded five interceptions and three sacks. These are the two most crucial areas for the Panthers against Tufts.  The offense will need to have long, sustained drives in order to keep Chance Brady off the field, and the defense will have to get

in the backfield to stop him from breaking off big plays downfield.  Stopping Tufts basically means stopping Brady, as their quarterback play is shaky at best.  Brady and Lebowitz’s matchup this weekend might well decide the POY race, depending on how well Max Chipouras and Sonny Puzzo play against Wesleyan. Should be worth checking out.

  1. Wesleyan

I have a bad habit as a writer of ascribing too much importance to my articles. I have absolutely no idea if the greater Wesleyan football community is reading these articles, but I assume they are, and I assume they’re royally ticked off at me for keeping them at #4 even though they’ve scored 98 points in their last two games.  But I would advise the Cardinals to use this as motivation, because they’re the other side in the biggest game of the year. Wesleyan put up the biggest offensive performance of the year last week in Williamstown, scoring 56 points in just the first half!  QB Mark Piccirillo accounted for five touchdowns in the half in by far his most impressive outing of the season. The Cardinals offense is really humming right now, making them well suited to match Trinity’s dominant defense.

  1. Amherst

Amherst put up a valiant effort last weekend, soundly outplaying Trinity for three quarters. But as has been their tendency during their recent struggles, turnovers undid their good work.  Trinity scored two defensive touchdowns off of an interception and a fumble by quarterback Nick Morales ‘17. That crushing loss pretty much sums up what has been a very disappointing season for the team that came into the season on a 19 game winning streak. For the Purple and White, pride is all that remains to play for.  But don’t underestimate the power of that motivator. Amherst takes on hated rival Williams as their final act of the season. The two teams are closer in the standings than is often the case, but that won’t change the passion with which each team plays. Amherst-Williams is always a must see, even if it has little effect on the final standings.

  1. Bates

I feel like I’ve written this 30 times in my last three columns, but it’s still blowing my mind.  Just listen to this sentence: “By the end of this Saturday’s games, Amherst and Bates could finish tied in the NESCAC standings.” Woah. Bates has won two in a row over Colby and Bowdoin, using a solid defense and rushing attack. Last week Bates added a new dimension to their offense, as freshman quarterback Matt Golden ‘20 tallied 126 rushing yards and a touchdown, as well as a passing touchdown.  Bates now has a quarterback to push and compete with Sandy Plaschkes ‘19. They have to take down Hamilton this weekend to finish at .500, proving that even the lower tier games have stakes.

  1. Colby

The Mules have a bona fide star in sophomore wide receiver Sebastian Farrell ‘19.  Despite only being tenth in the league with 28 catches, Farrell ranks fourth in yards with 510. By nature of basic mathematics, this places him first in the league in yards per catch at 18.2. With a knack for making big plays, Farrell has been instrumental in many of Colby’s wins and close losses.  The Mules have a winnable matchup with Bowdoin to close their season, and another big game from Farrell could position him to contend for some post-season hardware.

  1. Hamilton

Hamilton ran headlong into the Middlebury revenge machine in Week Seven, losing at home 45-10. Middlebury’s passing offense tore the Continentals apart, but turnovers from Hamilton’s quarterbacks didn’t help. The Panthers tallied five interceptions, making any chance Hamilton’s defense had of stopping Jared Lebowitz very difficult. Hamilton faces a difficult test in the final week, traveling to the den of the suddenly-hot Bates Bobcats. They certainly have a chance to win, but it looks like it’s another year towards the bottom of the league for Hamilton.

  1. Williams

The two highest scoring performances of the season have come against Williams: 49 points for Middlebury and 59 points last week for Wesleyan.  To use an understatement, this is not a stat of which the Ephs are very proud. The Ephs have one last chance to get a symbolically crucial win, and there would be no more gratifying team to get it against than hated rival Amherst. Williams has shown the ability to put up a fight against tough teams, forcing several turnovers against Jared Lebowitz when they matched up with Middlebury. As we saw last week from their game against Trinity, turnovers can be the great equalizer for all of Amherst’s weapons on defense.  Williams has a path to success. A thin one, to be sure, but a path nonetheless.

  1. Bowdoin

Bowdoin is 0-1 so far in the CBB series, and 0-7 overall on the year. The main undoing for the Polar Bears has been defense, as they give up a league-worst 459 yards per game. Bowdoin wraps up the CBB series and the season as a whole with a game against Colby. Bowdoin seems destined to finish the season at 0-8, as their rebuilding season reaches its natural conclusion.

Shake it Up, Shake it Up (Woah-oh-oh!): Week Five Power Rankings

Week Five featured arguably the most surprising result of the season thus far, with Wesleyan affirming their status as a big time contender by shutting out Amherst 20-0.  It feels strange to be writing an article about NESCAC football without Amherst in the top three, but it’s always nice to try new things so let’s see if I can get through it.  The status quo held up in the rest of the league, with Trinity and Middlebury remaining undefeated and no real surprises in the lower levels.  Now without further dudes (cred to Family Guy), let’s get into the Week Five Power Rankings:

 

1.) Trinity (5-0)

To shamelessly borrow from Rory’s flawless research, Trinity has scored between 36 and 38 points every week this season.  Of course, the other end of that stick is that they have yet to play any of the other top teams in the league.  Their only quality win thus far is a 36-28 home win over Tufts, which was an impressive performance to be sure, but not as impressive as Wesleyan or Middlebury’s wins over Amherst.  The Bantams have arguably the three best teams to close out the season, starting with a home game against Middlebury next week that might very well determine the league championship.  Right now Trinity is the best team in the league, with quarterback (and legendary Chicagoan racketeer) Sonny Puzzo ’18 and running back Max Chipouras ’19 both standing as legit POY candidates.  But things could look very different by the end of the season.

2.) Middlebury (5-0)

Last week the Panthers got moved down in the rankings two days after scoring 49 points on the road.  Predictably, they had some gripes, expressed to me in loud voices in the dining hall as I walked back to my table with my chicken and peas.  However, the Panthers  got off to a slow start again this week against one of the lesser teams in the league, trailing Bates 9-0 at the end of the first quarter before rattling off 28 points in a row to put the game away.  Quarterback Jared Lebowitz ‘18 struggled early, throwing two interceptions (although heavy rain may have contributed to the early sloppiness).  The Panthers have now started very slowly in the last two weeks against two teams that are far from Trinity’s level.  These mistakes haven’t mattered against Williams or Bates, but one against Trinity could cost them the NESCAC championship.

3.) Wesleyan (4-1)

Welcome to the top three, Wesleyan!  We’ve been expecting you (here Trinity and Middlebury open the doors to the exclusive “NESCAC Upper Tier” night club, where T-Pain is playing 24/7 and there’s no need to do homework on Saturdays.)  Wesleyan’s defense has been their calling card this season, giving up only 7.2 points per game. However, their offense has stepped up at times as well.  QB Mark Piccirillo ‘19 hasn’t committed a turnover yet this season, and running back committee Lou Stevens ‘17, Dario Highsmith ‘20 and Devin Carrillo ‘17 have given the Cardinals a dynamic running game.  We went most of this season thinking that Wesleyan wasn’t dynamic enough to overcome the offensive firepower of the top teams, but they made us all look pretty foolish last weekend.

4.) Tufts (4-1)

A side effect of the Wesleyan win over Amherst is that Tufts’ win over them in Week One is now a quality win.  The Jumbos have been quietly playing pretty well this season at 4-1, but their quarterback inconsistencies have kept them squarely out of the top tier.  However, Chance Brady proved this weekend that sometimes it doesn’t matter who your quarterback is, so long as you have Smash Williams 2.0 as your running back.  Brady ran away (pun intended) with Offensive Player of the Week honors, putting up 157 yards and four touchdowns.  Brady is the type of player that can carry a team, and he has the chance to really seal up that reputation next week against Amherst.

5.) Amherst (3-2)

Image result for darth vader
“Luke, I am your father. But I am NOT a very good contractor.”

I expected myself to feel very gratified at the prospect of writing a Power Rankings in which I get the pleasure of putting Amherst outside the top three.  It’s something that I have never gotten to do, as Amherst had never lost a football game in my college career prior to this season.  But faced with this opportunity, I feel less gratification and more melancholy.  Stories simply aren’t that fun if there’s no villain.  Imagine if Darth Vader got demoted for failing twice on the Death Star (I mean honestly, the rebels blow up the first one, so he builds the same ship that can be destroyed in the same way?  Just poor logistical planning) and becomes a Storm Trooper.  Or if Voldemort had to retake Beginning Potions.  That is how the league without Amherst dominating feels right now.  Amherst probably has lost the chance to finish at the top this season, as Middlebury and Trinity will most likely not lose another game other than whoever loses their match-up next weekend.  The best they can do now is play out the season and prepare their youngsters to restart the dynasty next season.

6.) Colby (2-3)

The Mules have been battling Bates all season for “Best of the Rest” status, and they took a big step towards sealing that title with a 27-7 shellacking of Hamilton.  Colby’s defense has been a hallmark of their success this season, and this weekend’s performance was no different.  They forced three turnovers, including a fumble that was then returned for a touchdown.  Colby has already played (and lost to) Amherst, Middlebury and Wesleyan, meaning that they have three winnable games left.  The Mules have a good shot at finishing the season .500 or better, which would be a major accomplishment for a program that has struggled mightily for the last few years.

7.) Bates (1-4)

Bates came out very aggressive against the Panthers this weekend, and led 9-0 after the first quarter.  Unfortunately, the Bobcats’ season-long issue of putting together multiple strong drives reared its head again.  After a 48 yard touchdown pass in the first quarter, the Bobcats didn’t score again for the rest of the game, while the Panthers rattled off four touchdowns and put the game far out of reach.  Bates has shown flashes of contention this season, but seem to lack the consistency to make themselves anything more than those brief moments of sunlight on a dark and cloudy day.

8.) Hamilton (1-4)

After the end of last season, in which Hamilton won two of their last three games, many experts (meaning me) thought that they might be primed for a big step forward this season.  However, the Continentals have not quite lived up to their early season promise.  An exciting win over Bowdoin aside, Hamilton has looked very much like the team they have been the last three seasons.  This weekend’s 27-7 loss to Colby was the pinnacle of this disappointing season; Colby is a team that Hamilton simply has to beat if they want to climb out of their perennial losing reputation.

9.) Williams (0-5)

Williams has shown signs of life in the last few weeks, particularly against Middlebury two weekends ago.  However, they also battled Tufts for most of the first half last weekend, and have by and large acquitted themselves well this season, when taking into account the coaching upheaval of the off-season.  The Ephs appear to have discovered a star in versatile end Tyler Patterson ‘19, and have a golden opportunity against Hamilton next weekend to come away with a huge moral victory.

10.) Bowdoin (0-5)

Bowdoin has given up an average of 481 yards per game this season.  That’s 100 yards more than Williams, and by far the worst in the league.  The Polar Bears have been lost at sea on defense for much of 2016, floating on stranded icebergs from the melting Poles.  They do have Bates and Colby left on their schedule, giving them two chances to come out of this season with at least a win.  But as of now, they’re the underdogs in even those match-ups.

Move Over, Jumbos: Power Ranks 1/27

Shay Ajayi '16 has his Bantams rolling off of seven straight wins and a 5-0 NESCAC record. (Courtesy of David B. Newman/Trinity Athletics)
Shay Ajayi ’16 has his Bantams rolling off of seven straight wins and a 5-0 NESCAC record. (Courtesy of David B. Newman/Trinity Athletics)

There was a big shake up in this week’s Power Rankings, but that’s become commonplace in the NbN ranks. Why? Because of the five rankings we’ve put out (including this one), we’ve had four different authors. We apologize for the inconsistency, but not for the knowledge.

1. Trinity (14-4, 5-0, Last week: 3)

The last NESCAC team standing a year ago in the NCAA tournament, this year’s edition of the Bantams might be even better. They’ve improved on the offensive end (76.9 ppg vs. 69.6 ppg in 2014-15), and they’re still fierce on defense (36.7 field goal percentage allowed, best in the NESCAC and the nation) despite losing top perimeter defender Hart Gliedman ’15 and center George Papadeas ’15. Eg Ogundeko ’17 is the team’s most improved player. Always a force defensively, Ogundeko has improved his touch by leaps and bounds and is averaging 14.0 points per game. Oh by the way, the Bants are on a seven-game winning streak.

2. Amherst (14-3, 4-1, Last week: 2)

The LJs have had a rough stretch recently, losing two of three, including an out-of-conference blowout loss to Wesleyan and Colby’s only NESCAC win. Nevertheless, Amherst’s talent hasn’t declined, and they have a history of winning. All of the pieces are there. Two point guards, one capable of scoring in bunches, the other a great distributor. Maybe the best perimeter defender in the league in Johnny McCarthy ’18. Connor Green ’16, the seasoned vet. A great rim protector in David George ’17. The best three-pointer shooter in Division-III, per NCAA.com through January 25. And some more solid bench pieces. They’ll be just fine.

3. Wesleyan (15-4, 3-3, Last week: 6)

Welcome back to the top, Wesleyan. The Cardinals fell victim early on to two things: injuries, and NESCAC rules. NESCAC teams are often at a disadvantage early in the season because of the limited contact they get with coaches before firing it up for real. Hence, the season-opening loss to Lyndon St. Then the Cards rattled off 11 straight wins, and though they’ve only gone 4-3 since January 8 against Middlebury, all of those games were against NESCAC teams, and there were no gimmes. Wesleyan played Amherst twice, Trinity, Tufts and Middlebury over that stretch, and when they drew Hamilton and Bates they took care of business as they should. They still haven’t totally found their mojo. As documented many times here, they went through one of the ugliest seven game three-point shooting stretches basketball has ever seen at any level, but they made 13-23 last game against Bates. Coach Joe Reilly just needs to find the right rotation. Should he go back to what worked a year ago with a six-man rotation and Harry Rafferty ’17 and Joe Edmonds ’16 being big factors? Maybe, but Kevin O’Brien ’19, PJ Reed ’18 and Nathan Krill ’18 have become so important this year. I think all of that will work itself out, and the Cardinals have an easier NESCAC slate ahead.

4. Middlebury (11-7, 4-1, Last week: 5)

It’s been a meteoric rise through the ranks for the Panthers, and it makes my heart swell. I won’t lie, I had my doubts after they lost their two best scorers from last year’s team. However, I think in some ways we’re seeing an addition by subtraction scenario. Middlebury a year ago relied on Dylan Sinnickson ’15 and Hunter Merryman ’15 to find a way to shoot them to victory. Now, their team is more balanced and contributions are coming from all over the place. They have two great point guards, and on any night one or the other could tack on double digit points. Matt St. Amour ’17 is obviously a top-notch scorer, and the biggest strength he has that goes overlooked is how good he is at getting to the foul line and scoring from there (though his percentage from there so far is below his standards, he has the third most attempts in the NESCAC). It’s been a revolving front court door, but Coach Jeff Brown is getting solid minutes from whoever steps on the floor, and Middlebury fans will continue to pray that center Matt Daley ’16 is healthy enough to give 25 or so minutes come playoff time.

5. Tufts (13-4, 4-2, Last week: 1)

They have a couple of stars, but I think it’s now fairly evident that they’re not terribly deep. We knew that Tom Palleschi ’17 staying in the game was key already, but that became really evident against Middlebury. Foul trouble kept Palleschi out for much of the second half, and the Panthers actually crushed Tufts on the boards (53-44). Ryan Spadaford ’16 was also out for that game, though, which factors in. The fact is, though, that outside of the starting five, there’s not much of a scoring threat, which is why, I think, you see the starting five from Tufts playing a big chunk of minutes – Spadaford is playing the last at 23.8 mpg. Health will be critical, as will someone stepping up from the bench who can put the ball in the hoop.

6. Colby (12-6, 1-4, Last week: 10)

Colby is a bit like Tufts, only with, in my opinion, a slightly lower ceiling despite more experience. They rely heavily on their starting five, as well, and they absolutely must stay healthy. The Mules went 1-2 in NESCAC games without center Chris Hudnut ’16 over the past week or so (although the win was against Amherst, go figure). Everyone looks good to go as it stands today, and if Colby had pulled off the win over a very good Husson team last night I was considering putting them as high as third in these rankings, despite the 1-4 conference mark. Alas, they couldn’t finish the job, but I still think this team is on the rise.

7. Conn College (12-6, 3-3, Last week: 7)

Another team – and a program – on the rise is the Conn College Camels. Do-it-all man Zuri Pavlin ’17 has seen his numbers decline, but that’s only because he has some really good players around him for the first time. PG Tyler Rowe ’19 is the truth, and in case you missed it he made it into Sports Illustrated in the Faces in the Crowd section a couple weeks ago. Forward David Labossiere ’19 has been just as impressive in his debut campaign. The unsung hero of the group is forward Dan Janel ’17 who has really stepped up his game. Conn’s website doesn’t list weights, but trust me, he’s thick, and he’s ripping down 6.4 boards per game in under 20.o mpg. Pretty nice stats.

8. Williams (12-6, 3-3, Last week: 4)

It’s hard to explain, but I just don’t get a great feeling in my gut about the Ephs this year. Believe me, I will never count them out until it’s all said and done, but I don’t think they have enough to make a deep run in the NESCAC tournament. They hung with Trinity and Middlebury but ultimately lost, and tonight’s game against Amherst will be a big statement one. The loss of point guard Mike Greenman ’17 was unfortunate, because the man that I think will be the best point guard on the roster, Bobby Casey ’19, isn’t quite ready for the limelight, though he hasn’t played badly. Kyle Scadlock ’19 is fun to watch, though, and this team could be electric next year. I hope that Coach Kevin App can get some of his big men, namely Michael Kempton ’19 and Jake Porath ’19, some valuable experience so that there is a center in place to take over for Edward Flynn ’16, otherwise the four-out-one-in system will have to change.

9. Bowdoin (8-7, 1-4, Last week: 9)

I guess losing center John Swords ’15 was a bigger loss than we could have anticipated. Lucas Hausman ’16 and Jack Simonds ’19 are doing everything they can, but it’s not enough. No one else is in double figures on offense, and they’re struggling on defense. I’ll stop here, because I don’t like to make Adam upset.

10. Bates (9-9, 2-4, Last week: 8)

At 2-4 in the NESCAC, they’re still very much alive for a playoff spot, but they have their question marks. Mike Boornazian ’16 is scoring a lot of points, but it’s also taking him a lot of shots to do it. Can someone step up and help him put the ball in the basket? If they can, pairing that with their ability to put two strong rim protectors down low could make for a tough team to beat. After all, this is almost the same team as the one that made an NCAA run last year, albeit one very big difference in the subtraction of Graham Safford ’15.

11. Hamilton (9-9, 0-5, Last week: 11)

We’re sort of treading water with the Continentals right now. Take out the Tufts game, and Hamilton has lost by an average of 5.75 ppg to NESCAC teams, which means that they’re competitive but just no quite able to close the gap. This freshman class is getting a great deal of experience, though. Peter Hoffmann ’19, Andrew Groll ’19 and Michael Grassey ’19 make up a great core, and getting a few NESCAC wins would be huge for their development.

Discord among the Ranks: Basketball Power Rankings 1/15

Amherst Coach Dave Hixon shouldn't look so worried. The Lord Jeffs haven't moved from the top of the ranks. (Courtesy of Mark Box/Clarus Studios)
Amherst Coach Dave Hixon shouldn’t look so worried. The Lord Jeffs haven’t moved from the top of the ranks. (Courtesy of Mark Box/Clarus Studios)

As always, college basketball, and particularly the Little Ivies, will enjoy a number of upsets throughout the season and well into the playoffs, but in the NESCAC this season it’s hard to even know what to consider an upset. Amherst and Tufts seem to have separated themselves from the pack in the early going, and Hamilton has a long way to go to climb out of the cellar, but otherwise it appears that any team could win against anyone on any given day. Spots 3-10 in these rankings are especially close, and will probably look completely different next week.

1. Amherst (11-1, 2-0, Last week: 1)

The Lord Jeffs sit at No. 9 in the D3hoops.com national rankings. Thus far they have been outstanding, leading the league with 88.6 ppg while shooting 48.8 percent and have been able to hold teams to a respectable 72.0 ppg. They are atop the leaderboard of the NESCAC Conference, and remain the front runner to win the NESCAC tournament. Their only blunder so far came in a 79-69 loss to Rhodes College (Ky.), who are only .500 so far, but play a tough schedule. Look for Connor Green ’16 to continue to lead the charge with his 15.3 ppg. Swingman Jeff Racy ’17 is shooting 55.3 percent beyond the arc and supplying 14.6 ppg. Last year’s Rookie of the year, guard Johnny McCarthy ’18, is spending the most time on the hardwood and putting up 13.1 ppg.

2. Tufts (11-2, 2-0, Last week: 2)

After rolling over Bowdoin and Colby to open up NESCAC play last week, Tufts climbed the national ranks to No. 17 from No. 22 the week before. They have two losses, coming against a very good MIT team and 12th-ranked WPI. Vinny Pace ’18 continues to power their offense averaging 19.2 ppg. Though still a very young team, they seem unfazed and stick to their fast-paced offense with the lone big man, Tom Palleschi ’17, doing the dirty work down low with 48 blocks on the season. Tufts ranks second in the league in scoring with 86.1 ppg and their starting five all average at least 10.0 ppg. They get to the line more than any NESCAC team and they hit their free throws, sitting atop the ‘CAC at 77.2 percent from the stripe. Tufts will take on Middlebury tonight and Hamilton tomorrow, two games that the Jumbos should win; and two wins that would push their winning streak to 10 games.

3. Wesleyan (12-2, 1-1, Last week: 3)

Their first NESCAC game was a loss to Middlebury, a team that just seems to have the Cardinals’ number. Wesleyan will be put to the test tonight as they travel to western Massachusetts to take on Amherst and then head to Hartford for a game with Trinity tomorrow. Point guard BJ Davis ’16, who has averaged 19.0 ppg, will need to be on if they want to take down the No. 9 team in the nation. Wesleyan will have two chances to down the Jeffs, as they will host Amherst on Monday, but only tonight’s game will count towards the conference standings. Aside from the loss to Middlebury, the Cards were able to fend off Hamilton with an overtime victory and took down Williams in a scrappy non-conference game. Wesleyan plays good defense, keeping teams to 67.8 ppg, second best in the NESCAC. Joseph Kuo ’17 is the man holding it together down low for the Cards scoring 12.1 ppg and pulling in 109 rebounds this season. It is tough to say where Wesleyan will end up this year, but they should certainly be in the playoffs, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them fighting for a top-four seed as the season wraps up.

4. Trinity (9-4, 1-0, Last week: 8)

Don’t sleep on the Bantams. What’s that old saying? Oh yeah, Defense Wins Championships. The Bantams lead the pack when it comes to defensive statistics – number one in scoring defense (64.7 ppg allowed) and rebounding margin (+10.8). Though they stand at 9-4 on the season with a few weak losses, they opened up NESCAC play with a big one-point victory over Williams. Coach James Cosgrove implements fundamental basketball, and Trinity will grind with the good teams. As 2015 First Team All-NESCAC guard Jaquann Starks ’16 and the Trinity shooters heat up for the long haul of NESCAC games and the playoffs, the Bantams should be in fine shape. Eric Gendron ’18 is leading the league in three point percentage at 59.3 percent. With a frontcourt of Ed Ogundek0 ’17 and Shay Ajayi ’16 that is combining for 26.0 ppg and 19.0 rpg and point man Andrew Hurd ’16 commandeering the floor and leading the league in assists, everything is in place for another wild playoff run.

5. Connecticut College (10-3, 2-0, Last week: 9)

Not taking anything away from their 2-0 NESCAC record, but I will need to see them compete against big dogs of the NESCAC before they can crack the top four. They won close games vs. Hamilton and Middlebury, two very questionable teams this year. Ten wins at this stage is almost unheard of for the Camels, but they will need to continue the hot streak against a gritty Trinity team tonight in Hartford. Look for guards Lee Messier ’18 and Tyler Rowe ’19 to be the point scorers as they have combined for 27.0 ppg thus far this season. Messier can be lethal with his 40.2 percent mark beyond the arc. Conn is a consistent offensive team averaging 82.2 ppg, but their defense will likely not hold up against the bigger and better NESCAC teams. The Camels are last in the league in scoring defense with 76.5 ppg allowed and rebounding margin (+1.3).

6. Williams (9-5, 0-2, Last week: 5)

The Ephs definitely got the toughest opening weekend schedule, traveling to Amherst on Friday and Trinity on Sunday. They lost a heartbreaker to the Bantams, but they competed well given their youth. There are a lot of games still to play. Rookie forward Kyle Scadlock ’19 has been efficient, ranking eighth in the league in field goal percentage, while the Dan Aronowitz ’17 is averaging 16.7 ppg. They are not getting the productivity they would like out of 6’10″ center Edward Flynn ’16, though, who has only been able to pull in 4.9 rbg, which is a glaring hole when one considers the front courts of the league’s best teams. Though their 0-2 conference record doesn’t show it at this point, Williams could be a sleeper pick come playoff time. They to Wesleyan and Trinity by two points or less, so they will be desperate for redemption come playoff time.

7. Bates (8-6, 1-1, Last week: 7)

Bates has played a very tough schedule, but it is fair to say that they are struggling this season. Despite the size of the Delpeche twins, the Bobcats are 10th in the NESCAC in scoring defense. This will prove to be a detriment as the NESCAC season unravels. Mike Boornazian ’16 is the ringleader for the Bobcats posting 15.5 ppg with 2.8 apg, while Shawn Strickland ’18 supplies 3.6 apg and shoots 42.4 percent from three-point land. With a 1-1 NESCAC record going into tonight’s game against Hamilton, I believe Bates has the upperhand, but the Continentals are not to be taken lightly. Bates should be in the playoffs this season, but they are fiddling with the fringe.

8. Bowdoin (8-4, 1-1, Last week: 6)

Bowdoin stands at 1-1 in the NESCAC with an embarrassing loss to Tufts. The Polar Bears have Friday and Saturday off and will travel to Williams on Sunday. Thanks to the way the NESCAC schedule rotates and a postponed game last Tuesday, Bowdoin is in the midst of a 12-day stretch in which they will play just one game (unless the game with Maine-Presque Isle can be rescheduled in that time). Does that rest give Bowdoin the advantage, or will rust hurt them against the Ephs? They will then take on Amherst, Trinity and Colby who they lost to on December 5. Bowdoin has a good all-around team, but they have generally been taken advantage of on the boards. Bowdoin will be outgunned when they have to face real centers and big athletic forwards. Bowdoin does shoot well though, and Lucas Hausman ’16 leads the league (by a lot) with 25.0 ppg, with Jack Simonds ’19 backing him up and averaging 14.8 ppg.

9. Colby (10-3, 0-2, Last week: 4)

Colby looked great coming into last weekend, but will need to earn their stripes in NESCAC action. They did beat Bowdoin and Bates in early December, but those were non-conference games, and Bates got redemption by beating Colby when it mattered. Colby will travel to Massachusetts to challenge a tough Ephs team tonight. The road doesn’t get much easier as they will then have to take on Trinity and Amherst on back-to-back nights, which could make for a chilling weekend in Waterville, Maine as they could potentially fall to 0-5 in NESCAC play. The Mules will be a fringe playoff team this year, and could easily not make the NESCAC tournament. A week ago we were talking about Colby as a potential top-four seed, and now a cold spell could drop them into a battle for a spot in the playoff field. Their weakness, defense, is well-documented, and needs to get fixed if Colby is going to meet their own expectations this year.

10. Middlebury (7-7, 1-1, Last week: 11)

Middlebury earned a great win at Wesleyan to open up their conference schedule, then lost by one point to Conn College the following day. A team with the worst free throw percentage in the league will certainly have trouble down the stretch, and close games like their loss to Conn College could be marked as W’s if they can just figure out their issues from the stripe. Despite their free throw percentage, the Panthers have a very good defense holding teams to 70.8 ppg. Center Matt Daley ’16 leads the team with 8.7 rbg, which has lead to the team’s second-best +8.4 rebounding margin. Matt St. Amour ’17 leads the team with 19.1 ppg, while Daley averages 12.1. These two will need to have impactful games to take down Tufts tonight. The big question is how the heck they are going to stop Palleschi and Pace.

11. Hamilton (7-6, 0-2, Last week: 10)

Hamilton has a very young, inexperienced squad this season with just two seniors. Unsatisfied with being the runt of the NESCAC, Hamilton fought hard in their opening NESCAC games, forcing Wesleyan into overtime to eventually fall by six points and losing to Conn College by just four points. They have a foreseeable win tonight against Bates. Hamilton is just barely outscoring its opponents 71.8 ppg to 71.2 ppg. That does not translate to a good performance against tougher NESCAC teams. Point guard Jack Dwyer ’18 will give Hamilton an opportunity to win averaging while 5.2 apg. Peter Hoffmann ’19 ranks 13th in scoring this season and has made an immediate impact. There is a bright future in Hamilton, even if things aren’t looking to promising in 2015-16.

Basketball Power Rankings 1/8

Connor Green '16 and the Lord Jeffs are at the top of the ranks. What else is new? (Mark Box, Clarus Studios, Inc.)
Connor Green ’16 and the Lord Jeffs are at the top of the ranks. What else is new? (Mark Box, Clarus Studios, Inc.)

There are a lot of teams in the NESCAC that have performed very well so far this year, but everything changes once conference play begins. Will Amherst continue playing to their potential? Is Colby a real threat to go deep in the tournament? Is Tufts’ fast pace sustainable? Check out the initial power rankings to get a closer look at how each NESCAC team has done so far this year.

1. Amherst (10-1)

Coming into the year, Amherst was a clear favorite to win the NESCAC. They lost next to nothing from last year’s roster, and their younger players such as Jayde Dawson ’18, Michael Riopel ’18, and reigning NESCAC ROY Jonny McCarthy ’18 all gained valuable experience that has already provided dividends here early in the season. Amherst has played some low-talent teams this year, but what’s important is that they’ve beaten these teams in convincing fashion. Amherst has also played some very solid teams – Babson, Eastern Connecticut and Rust – and has showed that they can, in fact, win close games. In their one loss this season, to Rhodes College, Amherst shot just 6-11 from the free throw line. Additionally, McCarthy and Connor Green ’16 combined to shoot just 11-32 from the field, 3-15 from beyond the arc, and attempted zero free throws. Though Amherst has a deep bench, the Lord Jeffs can’t rely on the bench to carry the scoring load. McCarthy and Green can’t keep missing 12 threes a game between them and expect to win in conference play. Regardless, I expect that this will just be a blip on the radar and the Lord Jeffs will get back up to speed when they open up NESCAC action in Amherst tonight against their bitter rival, Williams.

2. Tufts (9-2)

Last year, Tufts was 4-7 when they faced off with Middlebury in their first conference game. With a new and improved offense, and a much more mature team, Tufts stands at 9-2 and is ranked #22 nationally as they prepare to host Bowdoin tonight. Their new run-and-gun offense has propelled their scoring average from a NESCAC-low 67.6 ppg last year to 84.1 ppg this year. Last year, Tufts was 10th in the NESCAC in free throws made per game and ninth in free throw attempts per game, but this year they are first in both categories, averaging 21.7 points from the line per game! The Jumbos are winning games against strong teams by putting pressure on their opponents. They gang rebound on defense and then push the ball up the court. On the other end, they crash the boards hard, pulling down 13.3 offensive rebounds per game. Obviously, Tom Palleschi ’17 is leading the team in rebounds, but it has been Vinny Pace ’18 that has anchored the offense this year. It seems that Palleschi is fine with his decreased scoring role, however. He has instead focused more on his defense, shown by his leap from 2.4 bpg to 4.2 bpg. The key for the Jumbos this year has been balance. They use a lot of guys in the rotation, and, so far, this has led to success for them. As long as they can stay in control at such a fast pace, I’m anticipating more success with this style against conference opponents.

3. Wesleyan (11-1)

Wesleyan heads up to Middlebury tonight riding an 11-game winning streak, and over 12 games they have allowed just 65.6 ppg, which ranks third in the NESCAC. The Cardinals have built this impressive record with their stifling defense, which causes havoc for opposing ball handlers and forces turnovers. Wesleyan leads the conference with 7.9 spg, allowing for easy run outs. Though Coach Joe Reilly’s team has struggled with turnovers a bit themselves, they are also forcing their opponents into taking bad shots, which is why they’ve had so much success. On the offensive side of the ball, BJ Davis ’16 has stepped up his game immensely this year, and is scoring nearly eight points per game more than he did last year. In some ways, this could be worrisome for the Cardinals; though it’s great that Davis has been such an effective scorer this year, the team as a whole is depending on him to put up his 19.1 ppg, as Joseph Kuo ’17 is the only other Cardinal averaging over 10.0 ppg. I’m anticipating that Davis’ numbers will drop in conference play, opening the door for other players to step up and continue Wesleyan’s hot start.

4. Colby (10-1)

After starting off the season with a 98-92 overtime loss to Staten Island, the Mules have reeled off 10 straight wins, two of which came in back-to-back games against Bowdoin and Bates. However, besides those two victories, none are very impressive. Regardless, 10-1 is nice, and we will see if Colby is as good as they look when they have a rematch against Bates tonight and then head down to Somerville to take on Tufts tomorrow. Colby’s success thus far has come through their five senior starters, particularly center Chris Hudnut ’16 and forward Ryan Jann ’16, who average 16.6 and 17.3 ppg, respectively. The reason these players are able to score so consistently stems from Colby’s team-first approach. Every player on the team is looking to make the extra pass, and each of the five starters records at least two assists per game. Colby’s 19.2 apg leads to open shots, which is why Colby is currently second in the NESCAC in scoring. If Colby can continue to share the ball so effectively, it will be a tough task to take them down.

5. Williams (8-3)

The most remarkable part of the 8-3 record the Ephs have posted so far is the youth that this teams rolls out there day in and day out. Of the seven players with appearances in every one of Williams’ games this season, four are freshmen. Though the Ephs are definitely led by Daniel Aronowitz ’17, Kyle Scadlock ’19 has made a big splash so far this year, exemplified by his 12.4 ppg and 6.7 rpg numbers. I think that the best showing that Williams has had this year is in their two-point loss to Wesleyan. Though Wesleyan did miss 14 free throws in that game, Williams showed they could play defense against a legitimate NESCAC title contender, allowing only 58 points in the game. In the same game, Aronowitz stepped up big-time, scoring 27 of his team’s 56 points. If Aronowitz can continue to hold down the fort for a bit, I think Scadlock’s fellow freshmen will become more comfortable, making Williams a dangerous team as the season progresses.

6. Bowdoin (7-3)

As expected, Lucas Hausman ’16 is off to a hot start for the Polars bears. Through 10 games, Hausman is averaging 24.7 ppg, highlighted most recently by his 35-point performance against Bridgewater State. Since an out-of-conference loss to Colby a month ago, Bowdoin has won four straight, and look to continue that streak tonight against Tufts. As we enter NESCAC play, a huge part of Bowdoin’s success will lie in the hands of Jack Simonds ’19, who has put on quite a show in his bid for NESCAC ROY so far. As a forward who relies on his perimeter shooting, Simonds will be tested in a conference where there are very few teams that play two natural big men. Against Tufts, for example, it’s likely that Simonds will be defended by Vinny Pace and Stefan Duvivier ’18, both of whom are long and athletic, which will make it difficult for Simonds to get his shots off from deep. However, if Tufts or other NESCAC opponents focus primarily on shutting down Hausman, Simonds will have opportunities to launch from deep and will the Polar Bears to victory.

7. Bates (7-5)

Five losses in 12 games is not great, but minus a stretch of three losses in December, Bates has been pretty solid so far this year. Even in those three losses, the Bobcats played pretty well, losing by four each to Colby (in overtime) and Southern Vermont, and by just seven to WPI. Those three teams are all very solid squads, so Bates should not be disappointed with these losses. What is a bit worrisome, however, is allowing triple digits in their other two losses, but luckily for Bates, those two games seem to be anomalies. In wins this year, the Bobcats have been able to keep opponents to just 65.0 ppg, in large part due to the imposing presence of the twin towers down low, Marcus Delpeche ’17 and Malcolm Delpeche ’17. On the offensive end, Mike Boornazian ’16 leads the way with 15.6 ppg. An encouraging sign for Bates is that Boornazian put up 23 points and seven rebounds against Colby, showing that he will indeed be the primary scorer once conference play rolls around. Regardless, what Bates needs out of Boornazian and the Delpeche brothers is consistency, because they really don’t have any other major scoring threats besides those three guys.

8. Trinity (8-4)

It’s pretty easy to look at Trinity’s losses and think that they are getting snubbed with a #8 nod here, but take a closer look. Sure, they’ve lost to solid teams, but do they have any good wins? Not yet. Trinity has not won a game by single digits, and that’s because they have not been able to beat any the good teams on their schedule. The Bantams started the year ranked 12th in the nation, and have since fallen out of the ranks because they have not shown the ability to win a close game. Against Eastern Connecticut, for example, the Bantams we’re actually up by six at the half, but went on to shoot 26.5 percent from the field in the second half and ended up losing by eight. Against Springfield, Trinity turned the ball over 10 times in the first half alone. It has been a trend in all their losses that Trinity has struggled to put together 40 minutes of good basketball. Nonetheless, I have faith that Jaquann Starks ’16, Ed Ogundeko ’17 and Shay Ajayi ’16 can help turn around the Bantams in the second half. Trinity has played good defense all year, so if they can turn things around on offense they’re still in fine position to finish in one of the top four spots in the NESCAC.

9. Connecticut College (7-3)

Conn College has showed a little life this year due to the play of freshmen David Labossiere ’19 and Tyler Rowe ’19. Both players have stepped in and made a huge impact so far, complementing the continued success of sharpshooter Lee Messier ’18 and big man Zuri Pavlin ’17. Rowe, a natural point guard, has done a great job attacking the paint, knowing when to shoot and when to dish. Labossiere, arguably the most athletic freshmen in the NESCAC, rebounds decently well and knows how to finish around the rim. As the Camels face off against NESCAC teams we will learn whether or not these promising young players have made the Camels a competitor in the NESCAC as their three-point loss to a solid SUNY-Canton team suggests. I think that the answer to that question is going to come down to whether or not Conn can slow down their opponents in shooting the basketball, as they currently allow opposing teams to shoot 42.5 percent from the field, the second-worst mark in the league.

10. Hamilton (7-4)

Hamilton, like Williams and Connecticut College, is a team that has been powered primarily by their freshmen so far this year. Peter Hoffmann ’19 has been the main bright spot so far for the Continentals, a freshman star who has stepped in and filled the hole left by the departure of Joseph Lin ’15. The freshman guard is averaging 13.5 ppg through 11 contests this year, and is doing most of his damage inside. While Hoffmann can step out and hit the three here and there, he has a knack for getting to the hoop, and as a result, gets to the free throw line every game. Another freshman bright spot has been Andrew Groll ’19. Groll isn’t a natural scorer, but he is pulling down 7.1 rpg. I think the early season success can be attributed to Hamilton’s players working together and accepting their individual roles on the team. Though they are last in the league in assists, there is no one player that does the majority of the scoring – eight guys are piled in the 3-10 point range, and just two, Hoffmann and Jack Dwyer ’18, are averaging double digits. I am not expecting a lot out of Hamilton in league player this year, but in the next couple years I expect them surge onto the scene as their young core matures.

11. Middlebury (6-6)

The Panthers are off to a tough start, and their mediocre offense is mostly to blame. Middlebury is having trouble winning games primarily because of two main factors: three-point shooting and free throw shooting. Middlebury is ranked second-worst in the NESCAC in made three-point field goals per game with just six. They’re also ranked 10th in made free throws per game, where they hit just 58.6 percent. With such low numbers at the charity stripe, especially in combination with such a lack of outside shooting ability, Middlebury’s only chance is to play absolutely stellar defense because you can’t expect them to shoot that much higher than the 45.5 percent mark that they’re hitting shots at. To their credit, Middlebury has done a solid job on the defensive end of the court. They’re forcing turnovers and difficult shots out of their opponents, but their lack of offense is ultimately the Achilles heel for the Panthers. Matt St. Amour ’17, Jake Brown ’17 and Matt Daley ’16 have done what they can to put the ball in the hoop, but they don’t really have anybody else who can score the ball. Middlebury is in the midst of a rebuilding period, and I don’t anticipate them making a playoff appearance this year.

The Amherst Dynasty: Power Ranks 11/12

SS Jimmy Fairfield-Sonn '16 hauls in one of his two INTs of the day as Amherst pulled away in the NESCAC Championship race. (Courtesy of Greg Sullivan)
SS Jimmy Fairfield-Sonn ’16 hauls in one of his two INTs of the day as Amherst pulled away in the NESCAC Championship race. (Courtesy of Greg Sullivan)

The Lord Jeffs enjoyed (proverbial) champagne showers following their victory over the Bantams. It will likely be their sixth NESCAC title since 2000, sharing the reigns with Trinity on the modern-era All-Time Championships list. There was no better way for the 2016 class to go out on Senior Day than by earning their third consecutive ring. Besides Amherst, the rest of the NESCAC has an opportunity to move up the ladder as the final week is filled with exciting rivalry games dating back to the 1800s. Should be a beautiful week of football, and it will be thrilling to see where teams end up.

1. Amherst Lord Jeffs (7-0; Last Week: 1)

Amherst essentially walked away with their third consecutive NESCAC title Saturday as they took down Trinity. The Lord Jeffs took advantage of Trinity’s mistakes, and that seemed to be the biggest difference between these two teams Saturday. They controlled the second half, running all over the Bantams, with Reece Foy ’18, Kenny Adinkra ’16, Nick Kelly ’17, Jack Hickey ’19, and Jackson McGonagle ’16 all averaging at least 3.6 yards per carry. Amherst SS Jimmy Fairfield-Sonn ’16 went out with a bang with two interceptions and a crucial blocked field goal to end the first half. Amherst will wrap up their season against the Ephs in Williamstown, Mass for the Biggest Little Game In America — a game that dates back to 1884, and is the most-played Division-III game in the country.

Trinity Bantams (6-1; Last Week: 2)

Despite analyst Joe MacDonald’s bold prediction of a Bantam victory, Trinity was unable to get it done down the stretch. Amherst did a good job depriving kick and punt returner Darrien Myers ’17 in the forms of pooching and squibbing, which put a lot of pressure on the offense to move the ball up the field. The Trinity faithful felt some home cooking involved between a questionable touchdown catch and the Bantams racking up 12 penalties resulting in 98 yards opposed to Amherst’s three penalties.

WR Jackson McGonagle '16 incredibly hauled in this twisting grab to help dispatch the Bantams. (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)
WR Jackson McGonagle ’16 incredibly hauled in this twisting grab to help dispatch the Bantams. (Courtesy of Amherst Athletics)

Despite edging Amherst’s 247 offensive yards with 314 of their own and possessing the ball for 38 minutes of the game, Trinity had too many blunders. A fatal sideline pass intercepted at the Trinity 37 yardline resulted in Amherst taking the lead and never looking back. Trinity’s Max Chipouras ’19, Sonny Puzzo ’18, and Myers averaged 3.8 yards per rush, but the Amherst running game was even more efficient. Trinity still has life to live as they take on long-time rivals Wesleyan in the homecoming game that will be featured on CPTV Sports.

3. Middlebury (5-2; Last Week: 3)

Middlebury took care of business Saturday against Hamilton, but their stock dropped with such a tight game. They were able to keep their spot at No. 3 for Week 7, but that could change as they take on the Jumbos this weekend.

Middlebury trailed late in the first half, when QB Matt Milano ’16 and WR Matt Minno ’16 connected to even the score pending a QB Jared Lebowitz ’18 two-point conversion rush. Milano threw for 273 yards and three touchdowns with one pick, while Diego Meritus ’19 picked up 75 of the Panthers’ 89 rushing yards. Minno leaped out of the water catching a season-high three touchdowns on six catches for 171 yards. Naples native and CB Nate Leedy ’17 picked off Hamilton’s Cole Freeman ’19 twice. S Kevin Hopsticker ’18 also added an interception and 10 tackles in what was probably his best game as a Panther.

4. Tufts (5-2; Last Week: 5)

Tufts outscored Colby 28-10, and QB Alex Snyder ’17 only passed 13 times for one touchdown caught by WR Mike Miller ’18. Chance Brady ’17 averaged 7.9 yards on 27 attempts scoring two touchdowns. His longest run was 49 yards. Brady also was the Jumbos’ leading receiver, with two catches for 49 yards, en route to being named NESCAC Offensive POTW and the second NESCAC player this season to be dubbed the New England Football Writers’ Gold Helmet winner. Colby was able to move the ball on Tufts, nearly gaining more offensive yards than the Jumbos. Tufts return man Mike Rando ’17 ran one kick back 85 yards for a touchdown, and he took a second one back for 37 yards. The Jumbos’ Zach Thomas ’18 racked up 3.5 sacks. It is tough to say how Tufts will fair with Middlebury next week; I could see either team taking that game. A Tufts upset could stir up rival tensions between the two foes.

5. Wesleyan (5-2; Last Week: 4)

Wesleyan will have a chance to move up the ranks next week when they take on Trinity for the rivalry game that dates back to 1885. The Cardinals took on Williams Saturday in a convincing win. QB Mark Piccirillo ’19 stepped up and completed 11-14 passes with one touchdown for 105 yards, and he continues to show off his accurate arm. It was just the freshman’s second game playing a pivotal role, as Gernald Hawkins ’18 threw just 12 times and only completing six. They will likely continue to keep with their dual quarterback threat to keep the Bantams off balance, so it will be interesting to see how Trinity is able to respond. S Justin Sanchez ’17 picked a ball off and forced a fumble with six tackles. K Ike Fuchs’17 missed a short field goal wide right, and also missed an extra-point that was pushed back five yards due to a penalty, and things have just not been right with the formerly reliable Fuchs. If Wesleyan is going to win next week, they will probably need Fuchs at his best.

6. Hamilton (1-6; Last Week: 8)

The Continentals gave Middlebury a run for their money, something they have done to every team besides Trinity this year. They proved they can hang with the big dogs which has pushed them up to the No. 6 spot, a big jump from where they began the season. Yes, QB Cole Freeman threw four interceptions, but none of them resulted in a Panther score, and it seems like Coach Dave Murray is fine with Freeman taking shots down field as part of his learning process. The Continental defense did a good job containing the run game, keeping Middlebury to 2.6 yards per rush, but Matt Milano’s 14 completions were too deadly. RB LaShawn Ware ’18 played well – especially in the first quarter – picking up 77 yards on 21 carries, and WR Charles Ensley ’17 caught a 78-yard touchdown pass. Hamilton did not lay down easy as they posted a safety in the fourth quarter on Sean Tolton’s ’19 blocked punt. The whole league has been impressed with the Continentals this year, and is excited as it raises the competition. Hamilton has a chance to earn their second win of the season as they take on a rolling Bates.

7. Bates (2-5; Last Week: 6)

Slotback Tyler Janssen '17 lays a tender kiss on the CBB trophy. (Courtesy of Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)
Slotback Tyler Janssen ’17 lays a tender kiss on the CBB trophy. (Courtesy of Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

CBB Champions. Bates shellacked Bowdoin, shutting them out 31-0, waltzing their way to a killer recruiting tool in the CBB —Bates has won three of the last four CBB Titles. The Bobcats are on the cusp of – in the words of the great Lou Brown – a winning streak.

They have a chance to end on a high note at Hamilton and make up for all those closes losses earlier this year. The Bobcats outplayed Bowdoin last week in all facets, tackling the Polar Bears for a loss five times for 29 yards including three sacks. CB Trevor Lyons ’17 had a pick-six that he took 50 yards all the way back. QB Pat Dugan ’16 put on a show, running and throwing for a touchdown as he piled up 252 of Bates’ total 380 offensive yards. Another big win will vault the Bobcats back over the Continentals in the ranks.

8. Williams (2-5; Last Week: 9)

After a scoreless first 23 minutes, the Ephs let up a 21-yard touchdown pass to Wesleyan’s Eric Meyreles ’18. Williams’ lone touchdown came on a last minute, three-yard pass by Austin Lommen ’16, who threw for 150 yards including an interception. RB Noah Sorrento ’19 got his first crack as the starter and ran for 105 yards on 21 carries, including one for 45 yards. This weekend’s rivalry game will not have as much hype as most years due to the fact that Amherst is a heavy, heavy favorite. Williams moves up from last week, like Colby, more by virtue of the lackluster performance that Bowdoin put on last weekend.

9. Colby (1-6; Last Week: 10)

Colby lost to the better team Saturday when they hosted Tufts. Colby’s QB Gabe Harrington ’17 continued to struggle, throwing two interceptions while completing 53 percent of his passes. RB Jabari Hurdle-Price ’17 got his touches and scored a touchdown on 21 attempts, though only averaging 2.1 yards per carry. John Baron ’18 kicked a 37-yard field goal and an extra point. Despite a crooked score, Colby compiled 320 yards compared to Tufts’ 325.

The consolation game of the CBB will happen this week, and it is a chance for each Colby and Bowdoin to rid themselves of the shame of being part of a one-win program.

10. Bowdoin (1-6; Last Week: 7)

Not to take away from Bates, but that game shouldn’t have gotten out of hand like it did. It was a sad sight to see for Polar Bear fans Saturday as they rushed for negative six yards. Negative six. When they did have the ball in their hands, they fumbled three times, only making it into Bobcat territory four times. The Polar Bears were closest to a score when QB Noah Nelson ’19 threw an interception from the Bates 25-yardline. Bowdoin let Bates run right over them, as they let up 12 rushing first downs. Bowdoin will take on Colby for the runner-up of the CBB this weekend.