Tuesday marks the official start date for a variety of Division III Men’s and Women’s College Basketball teams in Massachusetts, and with that being the case, here’s a look a some of the teams to watch during the opening week of the season.
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1.) Williams College – The Ephs ended their season with a crushing two-point loss to Wooster in the Division III Final Four, but appear destined to return to Virginia for the second year in a row. D3Hoops.com has Williams ranked third nationally, and that’s probably because of senior guard James Wang and junior guard James Klemm, who finished the season as two of the team’s top three scorers. Yet, one of the biggest questions entering the upcoming season will be who’ll fill the void of Troy Whittington, who led the squad with 250 rebounds. Williams will kick-off their season on Friday (Nov. 18) when they host Southern Vermont.
2.) Amherst College – Despite squandering an 18-point lead in the NESCAC, (New England Small College Athletic Conference) semi-finals to Middlebury, the Lord Jeffs came within two games of Division III championship, but fell to their archrival, Williams College. This season, Amherst will seek revenge against Middlebury and Williams, as well as battle the Ephs for the top spot in conference. Also, without Connor Meehan as the team’s main floor general, the Lord Jeffs will have to rely on sophomore guard Aaron Toomey and senior guard Taylor Barrise to carry the load. Amherst’s season begins Friday (Nov. 18) against Plymouth State.
3.) Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) – After a rather difficult loss last Friday to Harvard University, the Engineers will look to kick-off their season with a victory on the road at Curry College on Tuesday (Nov. 15) before returning home on Thursday (Nov. 17) against Gordon College. MIT’s six top scorers are back from last year’s [20-9] team, including preseason All-American Noel Hollingworth.
4.) Brandeis University – The Judges start the year ranked just outside the Top-25. Head coach Brian Meehan will try to duplicate the start he saw last year, when his team won its first eleven games, en route to a [19-9] campaign that ended with a victory in the ECAC New England Championship game.
5.) Worcester Polytechnic Institution (WPI) – After losing the NEWMAC, (New England Men’s and Women’s Athletic Conference) championship to MIT in Worcester, the Engineers ended their postseason run with a loss in the second round to Amherst. WPI will need to find someone to replace Jeffery Robinson, who led the team last season with 471 points. WPI begins its season on Wednesday (Nov. 16) at home against Husson.
1.) Amherst College – After winning the Division III championship, the Lord Jeffs will enter the year ranked atop numerous polls as the team to beat. Yet, despite adding four new members to their squad, the Lord Jeffs championship unit remains in tact with senior guard Caroline Stedman and senior forward/center Lem Atanga McCormick. The Lord Jeffs begin their title defense on Saturday (Nov. 19) when they host Norwich.
2.) Babson College – Despite ending their successful campaign with a loss to Amherst in the playoffs, the Beavers experienced one of their best seasons in program history with 30-wins, and appear to be even hungrier than last year. Seniors Kathleen King and Nicki Wurderman, along with junior Sarah Collins will be the main focal point of the Beavers offense and defense, and you can bet they’ll cause nightmares for opposing coaches. Babson will begin its NEWMAC title defense on Tuesday (Nov. 15) when they host Salem State.
3.) Williams College – For the last two seasons, the Ephs have either ended their campaigns in the first or second round of the NESCAC playoffs, but this year, they appear to be a front runner to challenge Amherst. Senior Jill Greenberg will be one of the key players to watch this season, especially since she finished last year with 247 points and 71 steals, as well as led the squad with 133 assists. Also, the Ephs will need to find Taylor Shea’s replacement on the boards. The Ephs begin their season against Whitman at home on Friday (Nov. 18) before facing Babson on Saturday (Nov. 19).
4.) Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) – For the past two seasons, WPI has always finished second behind Babson, but could this be the year the Engineers challenge the Beavers for first place in the NEWMAC? The Engineers will rely heavily upon senior guard Lauren Hannmann, who finished the year with 322 points, 26 steals, and 23 assists. WPI begins their season on Tuesday (Nov. 15) against Brandies.
5.) Tufts University – Replacing Colleen Hart will be the biggest challenge for the Jumbos entering the upcoming season. Tufts has been to the NESCAC playoffs the past two years, but has struggled against both Amherst and Williams. The Jumbos finished last season winning 10-of-11 games at home, but faltered on the road with a [5-5] record. If the Jumbos are going to challenge the Ephs and Lord Jeffs, they have to win on the road. Tufts kicks off their season against Babson on Saturday (Nov. 19) at the Williams Tip-Off Tournament.
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