Albany Great Danes
Record: (18-14, 9-7 America East)
RPI: 199 (.482)
BPI: 197 (46.8)
Conference: America East
How They Qualified: Automatic Bid (won America East Tournament)
The Great Danes managed just an 18-14 record against one of the easiest schedules in the country but that’s the great thing about college basketball. Their longest winning streak of the season is three (twice) and their longest losing streak is three, so they were a model of consistency/mediocrity and entered the America East Tournament as the four seed.
The tournament was held in Albany at SEFCU Arena (their home court) and they promptly crushed UMBC in the first round and moved on to face top-seeded Vermont, thought by many to be the clear-cut favorite to win the title. Albany had other ideas as they dismissed the Catamounts on a “neutral court”, 67-58, setting up a matchup at second-seeded Stony Brook in the title game. Thanks to America East rules, the championship game is held at the higher seed, to Albany took their 6-11 road record to Long Island. They proceeded to shock the America East by taking down the Seawolves, 69-60, earning their second straight berth in the NCAA Tournament.
Just last year, they took down the same two teams in reverse order to reach earn their trip to the tourney.
What You Need to Know
Leading Scorer: Peter Hooley – 15.7 ppg
Leading Rebounder: Sam Rowley – 6.7 rpg
Leading Passer: DJ Evans – 2.8 apg
Bad Losses: at New Hampshire, at UMBC, Colgate
Good Wins: Yale, Vermont
What to Expect
The hope is that they can build off last year’s tournament experience, a 73-61 loss to second-seeded Duke. The problem is, last year they were 24-11. This year, they’ll likely find themselves as a 16 seed and possible in a First Four game in Dayton, which is exactly where ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has them.
They don’t do anything exceptionally well except play defense — the Danes allow just 63.8 points per game (39th in NCAA). Averaging nearly 20 fouls per contest, they’ve limited opponents to just 507 free throw attempts all season, third in the country.
They’re a scrappy bunch who shoot it fairly well from deep (36.4 3PT%), but they’ll probably need to win a game to earn a game against a one seed. Maybe they’ll make history or maybe they won’t, but upstate New York will be watching.
Congratulations to the Albany Great Danes. They are going dancing in the NCAA Tournament!