New England isn’t known as a college basketball powerhouse, but three schools here received top-25 votes in the preseason Coaches Poll. All fell just short of being ranked.
USA Today released their preseason Coaches Poll on Thursday, and not a single New England school made the top-25. Three schools though did earn some votes, and I think they could end up in the top-25 at some point this season.
Rhode Island earned the most votes with 31, followed by Providence with 21, and then Harvard with 2. Rhode Island and Providence missed the top-25 cut by just 5 and 6 teams. The 25th team though, Alabama, had a total of 82 votes so the gap was quite large.
Last season, Rhode Island was an 11-seed in the NCAA Tournament and they upset 6-seed Creighton 84-72. In the second round, they fell to Oregon in a close 75-72 game. That small run in the tournament certainly earned them some respect and they could end up as an 8-seed or better this year.
Providence was also an 11-seed in the 2017 tournament, but they were a part of the First Four and had a play-in game against USC. They lost that one 75-71. Harvard was a favorite in the Ivy League, but they lost to Yale in the first round of the conference tournament. Princeton was the eventual winner in the Ivy League and they got the ticket to the big dance. The Crimson will look to bounce back this season and are hopeful that they’ll qualify for the NCAA Tournament.
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Each team’s star
Rhode Island Rams: G E.C. Matthews, Senior
Last season, Matthews averaged 14.9 points per game with 4.3 rebounds, and 1.4 assists in 29.3 minutes played. Those numbers were actually a dip for him though, as he was at his best in 2013 and 2014 when he averaged 16.1 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 2.4 assists. If Matthews can get back to those kinds of numbers, he should be able to lead the Rams to a strong season and another NCAA Tournament appearance.
Providence Friars: F Emmitt Holt, Senior
Another Senior, Emmitt Hot will look to finish his college basketball career on a high note. He appeared in 32 games for Providence last season and he averaged 12.5 points, 5.38 rebounds, and 1.0 assist. Holt was a community college transfer, and with a season under his belt at the Division I level, he should be even better in 2017-18.
Harvard Crimson: F Seth Towns, Sophomore
Seth Towns is the youngest star in New England and he’s looking to get Harvard back into the big dance. He appeared in 28 games for the Crimson last season with 20 starts and he averaged 12.3 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 1.3 assists per game. Those are great numbers for a freshman, and he’ll hopefully make a nice jump in year 2.