Thursday, February 21, 2013

Rough Times Possibly Ahead for Sacred Heart

It's been a while since I've updated my Sacred Heart blog, because frankly I've been disappointed in their recent results. Phil Gaetano misses a game with the flu, and next thing you know the 2-21 St. Francis Red Flash come into the Pitt Center and defeat the Pioneers, 64-60. So much for cupcakes...

But now with the NEC is in its home stretch, I at least wanted to give Pioneer fans an update on SHU's current status within the standings. Here's how it looks, both for the standings and head-to-head tiebreakers:

4) Wagner, 9-5 (lost tiebreaker, 0-1)
5) Quinnipiac, 8-5 (leads tiebreaker, 1-0)
6) Sacred Heart, 7-6
7) Mount St. Mary's, 7-7 (lost tiebreaker, 0-1)
8) Central Connecticut, 6-7 (leads tiebreaker, 1-0)
9) St. Francis Brooklyn, 6-8 (leads tiebreaker, 1-0)
10) Monmouth, 5-9 (leads tiebreaker, 1-0)

As you all know, the top eight make the NEC postseason and SHU holds a precarious 1.5 game lead on the ninth place St. Francis Terriers. (Don't worry about Monmouth - they need to win out with games at Robert Morris and Wagner.) Yet, SHU controls their own destiny. A critical in-state set with Quinnipiac and CCSU awaits and with those head-to-head tiebreakers currently in Big Red's favor, it would certainly behoove SHU to take care of business this week. If they do, then they'll be in fantastic shape to make the postseason, and who knows, maybe have an outside shot at a home playoff game in the first round of the NEC tournament (top four seeds earn that).

Unfortunately, the remaining schedule is unkind. So unkind that our advanced statistician friend Ken Pomeroy has projected the Pioneers as significant underdogs (see the percent chance he gives SHU to win each game) in their last three contests, all away from the "friendly confines" of the Pitt Center.

KenPom Predictions:
2/21: Home vs. Quinnipiac, 74-73 (53%)
2/23: Home vs. Central Connecticut, 82-80 (55%)
2/25: Away at Bryant, 83-72 (20%)
2/28: Away at LIU Brooklyn, 85-75 (21%)
3/2: Away at St. Francis Brooklyn, 78-69 (23%)

Yikes. This won't be easy, but if SHU can someone win at least two more games, that should get him in. The first step is tonight against Quinnipiac in what could be the last conference battle between the two programs. Is it too much to ask for the fans to show up and support their Pioneers? Please?

Until next time...

Ryan Peters covers Sacred Heart Pioneers men's basketball for Big Apple Buckets and Pioneer Pride. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @pioneer_pride.

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