TEAMS TO WATCH
The top eight teams make it to the GNAC conference tournament, but only four teams are above .500 in the conference play. It’s a very top-heavy league led by BR-38 Albertus Magnus (18-0) and BR-124 Johnson & Wales (RI) (15-3) sitting at 1 and 2. Albertus Magnus is currently on a 24-game winning streak while Johnson & Wales (RI) is waiting in the wings hoping that the Falcons are “due for a loss”—yea, probably not.
The GNAC tourney started on Feb. 24, but it really begins on Feb. 26 when sleeper 6-seed BR-379 Emmanuel will face No. 2 Johnson & Wales (RI) and No. 4 BR-314 St. Joseph’s (Maine) will take a crack at No.1 Albertus Magnus in the GNAC Tournament Semifinals.
Come tournament time anything can happen. Coaches love to say, “its hard to beat anyone three times in a row,” which means Albertus Magnus is on thin ice? – highly unlikely. Fair to say that Johnson & Wales (RI) will face Albertus Magnus in the GNAC Conference Finals on Feb. 28.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Steve Simonds from St. Joseph’s leads the league in scoring at 22.4 points per game. The 6-foot-3 guard also rebounds with the best of them, snagging 7.9 rebounds per contest as well. Shooting 53.2 percent from the field, including a 47.2 percent clip from beyond the arc, Simonds is a nightmare for any opposing team. He’s got five 30-point games this season, one 40-point game and is heading into the GNAC Semis off a 38-point performance against Lasell. Kid can hoop.
Quarry Greenway from Johnson & Wales (RI) is averaging 20.4 points per game while snatching 7.3 rebounds per game for the Wildcats. The 6-foot-3 junior from New York has had 12 games in which he scored 20 or more points this season, including a 42-point performance against Norwich on Jan. 24. If he gets hot like that again in the tourney, watch out, his squad is going to be tough to beat.
Victor Ljuljdjuraj from Albertus Magnus is a 6-foot-8, 215-pound walking double-double, averaging 18.8 points and 10.7 rebounds per game. The senior center is probably the frontrunner for GNAC’s Player of the Year Award. Ljuljdjuraj has recorded 17 double-doubles this season while shooting a ridiculous 57.2 percent from the field, exceptional stats without even mentioning his work on the defensive end of the floor. Ljuljdjuraj has erased 109 shots this season, which is an average of just over four blocks per game for the big fella. The 109 shots blocked are just the ones he got a whole hand on too, imagine how many shots the guy has altered. Ljuljdjuraj will be looking to cap off his senior season with an undefeated GNAC title, and I don’t think there is much to stop him unless Johnson & Wales (RI) can pull off an upset.
Albertus Magnus has won three straight GNAC titles. The Falcon’s margin of victory in the past three GNAC Championship games is +25.3, including two wins by more than 34 points. They might not be able to match those numbers if Johnson & Wales (RI) make it to February 28 however. The two teams have met twice already this season, and Albertus Magnus won both by a combined five points. Last time these two teams caught up with each other in tournament play was in 2011, when the Falcons lost to Johnson & Wales (RI) in the GNAC Semifinals 128-107.
BOLD represents hosting team
LS Live Stream Link
|Feb. 26||6 Emmanuel||2 Johnson & Wales||7:00PM (ET) LS|
|Feb. 26||4 St. Joseph’s||1 Albertus Magnus||7:00PM (ET) LS|
Championship set for Feb. 28
High seed hosts throughout