With a 15-16 overall record under its belt, Stony Brook is anything but a desirable pick in this weekend's America East Championship game against No. 2 Boston University.
But after upsetting top-seeded Vermont in the semifinals, the fifth-seeded Seawolves have all the confidence in the world and are looking to advance to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history, a step up from last year's appearance in the NIT.
Like any team that goes on a strong run, everything is clicking for Stony Brook. It finally has a healthy lineup with Chris Martin back in the mix. Its 12-man rotation and complete use of depth has helped tremendously, compared to a team like BU, which focuses on its six or seven key contributors game in and game out.
Stony Brook head coach Steve Pikiell is confident about the Seawolves' chances in what he dubbed the biggest game in school history.
"We’ve built this," Pikiell told Patch this week. "It’s been five years of building. We went from the last place team to the first place team last year. When I took over this program we were 4-24. We were in dead last place. Last year we had 22 wins. We lost to BU in the semifinals. This year we’re back and we have a chance in the finals now to win it. This program has come very far in a short period of time. This would be the final chapter in that."
Stony Brook and Boston will face each other Saturday, March 12 at noon in Boston.
Our Patch staff weighed in on who they think will win the tourney and advance to the big dance ...
, editor of Sachem Patch & regional L.I. sports editor for Patch.com
Chris's pick: Stony Brook. "I normally don't buy into March Madness hype, upsets or Cinderella stories, but after Stony Brook's upset of No. 1 Vermont in the America East semifinals and its strong run over the past few weeks, I'll take Stony Brook over Boston University. Here's hoping one Long Island school makes it to the big dance."
Chris Vaccaro has been covering collegiate and high school sports on Long Island for almost a decade.
, editor of Three Village Patch
Chrissy's pick: Stony Brook. "Stony Brook is just in a really, really good place right now. There are guys coming off the bench now who were starters at various points in the regular season, and they all look pretty confident lately. BU's got the leading America East scorer in John Holland, who scored 29 points against Stony Brook in the Terriers' 67-62 win over the Seawolves back in January. But then again Chris Martin wasn't in the Seawolves' lineup at that point, and now that he's back, he could be a game-changer. I think Stony Brook's depth will make a difference and ultimately put the Seawolves on top."
Chrissy Sampson is a Hofstra graduate who spent two years covering high school and college sports from Staten Island to Long Island.
, Patch.com regional editor
Jason's pick: Stony Brook. "So the Seawolves are in the America East championship game, one win away from their first NCAA Tournament berth. Stony Brook has won six of eight games after injury troubles slowed the Seawolves and denied coach Steve Pikiell an optimum lineup for much of the season. Yet you cannot deny what Pikiell has done. Win or lose, he’s made the Seawolves relevant. One year after SBU withered under the pressure of the top seed and lost in the America East semifinals, Pikiel has his team playing unburdened and aggressive. With nothing to lose and everything to gain, SBU can beat Boston University."
Jason Molinet has reported on the Long Island sports scene since 1995.
, editor of West Islip Patch
A.J.'s pick: Boston. "College basketball in March is all about upsets. Unfortunately, that won't be the case when Stony Brooks goes up to Beantown for the AE Championship. BU is riding a 10-game winning streak and with two perennial scorers in John Holland and Darryl Partin, it'll be too much for SBU's defense to handle. If the Wolves have any chance, they'll need Bryan Dougher to have a career game, something in the 30s. And from my own personal experiences of going to AE Championships (2000, 2001), the home team has an enormous advantage."
A.J. Voelpel is a 2009 graduate of Hofstra University and has covered high school and college sports for both print and online publications.
, editor of Wantagh-Seaford Patch
Andrew's pick: Boston. "Stony Book is playing as well as anybody in the America East now and has showed great strengh to reach the conference finals after a disappointing regular season. The magic will end in Boston, though, as the Seawolves will face a very hostile crowd at the 1,800-seat Case Gym. Since the America East (formerly the North Atlantic Conference) began playing its championship game at the highest seed in 1991, only twice has the road team won."
Andrew Coen is a 2002 Hofstra University graduate and has covered high school and college sports for both print and online publications.
, Patch.com Contributor
Adam's pick: Stony Brook. "The Seawolves are the proverbial hot team that no one wants to play. They took on the two best defenses in the conference in Vermont and Albany and torched them with near 50 percent shooting. Stony Brook is healthy, confident, and playing their best ball of the year exactly when they need to. BU fell behind early in both of their playoff games, look for it to happen again on Saturday, except this time SBU will ride the momentum and close them out. When you fill out your March Madness bracket this year, you will see Stony Brook's name on it."
Adam Newman edits physics journals by day and moonlights as a sports and news reporter for several Long Island Patch sites.