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NCAA basketball preview

What to expect from local college basketball teams?

A look at the state’s Division I programs:

Tami Chappell/Reuters

Boston College

  • Coach: Steve Donahue (right), fourth year (46-52).

  • Last season: 16-17, 7-11 (eighth, ACC).

  • Starters: Olivier Hanlan, 6-4, So. (15.4 ppg), Ryan Anderson, 6-9, Jr. (14.9), Joe Rahon, 6-2, So. (10.1), Eddie Odio, 6-8, Jr. (4.3), Alex Dragicevich, 6-8, Jr.

  • Key reserves: Lonnie Jackson, 6-4, Jr. (8.7), Patrick Heckmann, 6-6, Jr. (8.0), Dennis Clifford, 7-1, Jr. (2.8), KC Caudill, 6-11, Jr. (1.0), Will Magarity, 6-11, Fr., Garland Owens, 6-5, Fr.

  • Outlook: Returning one of the most experienced teams — if not the most experienced — in the ACC (all five starters and seven of the top eight scorers), Donahue toughened up the nonconference slate in an attempt to bolster BC’s RPI. Hanlan, the ACC’s Freshman of the Year last season, reprises his role at the point and will be joined in the backcourt by Rahon, a gritty and durable floor leader. Anderson will likely have to man the pivot, but there’s hope he’ll have help from the oft-injured Clifford. Newcomers Magarity, a 6-11 freshman from Sweden, and Owens, an athletic 6-5 swingman, could make immediate contributions.

  • ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE: After getting only four teams in the NCAA Tournament last season, the expanded ACC could have as many as five teams making a run at the Final Four. Preseason favorite Duke leads the way ahead of North Carolina and conference newcomers Syracuse, which has preseason Player of the Year C.J. Fair, and Notre Dame, which boasts one of the nation’s best backcourts. Virginia will look to make some noise with the return of Joe Harris, one the league’s more underrated shooters (42 percent from 3-point range). Look for Duke to be the conference’s standard-bearer in March.


Yoon S. Byun/Globe Staff/File

Boston University

  • Coach: Joe Jones (right), third season (33-29).

  • Last season: 17-13, 11-5 (tied second, America East).

  • Starters: D.J. Irving, 6-0, Sr., (14.2 ppg), Dom Morris, 6-7, Sr. (11.6), Maurice Watson, 5-10, So., (11.2), Travis Robinson, 6-5, Sr., (6.7), Malik Thomas, 6-7, Jr. (7.3).

  • Key reserves: John Papale, 6-3, So., (9.3), Nathan Dieudonne, 6-7, So., (4.5), Justin Alston, 6-8, So., (1.4).

  • Outlook: The Terriers have 10 underclassmen (four freshmen, six sophomores) in their inaugural season in the Patriot League. They will have to rely on the senior leadership of Irving and the physical frontcourt presence of seniors Morris and Robinson. Irving is the kind of difference-maker Jones will need to run his offense, but if the Terriers have any aspirations of making it to the NCAA Tournament, Watson will have to complement Irving in the backcourt.

Paul Kapteyn/Telegram & Gazette/File

Holy Cross

  • Coach: Milan Brown (right, in center), fourth year (35-53).

  • Last season: 12-18, 4-10 (seventh, Patriot League).

  • Starters: Dave Dudzinski, 6-9, Sr. (15.2 ppg), Justin Burrell, 5-9, Jr. (12.1), Cullen Hamilton, 6-2, So., (6.3), Malcolm Miller, 6-7, Jr. (5.7), Taylor Abt, 6-8, Jr. (2.0).

  • Key reserves: De’Vaughn Reid, 6-0, Jr. (2.8), Christopher Morgan, 6-7, So. (1.4).

  • Outlook: The Crusaders will look to Dudzinski, a second-team All-Patriot League selection last season, to provide senior leadership and productivity from the paint, where he is expected to be joined at some point this season by interesting newcomer Matt Husek, a 6-11, 240-pound freshman. Burrell, in his third season as point guard, needs to maintain a handle on things to help the Crusaders manage a challenging schedule that includes nonconference road games against Michigan and North Carolina.

  • PATRIOT LEAGUE: After tying for second in its final season in the America East, BU is again eligible for postseason play, and the Terriers were selected as the preseason favorite to win the Patriot League. Lafayette, last season’s runner-up to regular-season and conference tournament champ Bucknell, is poised to make a run for the title. But the backcourt presence of Irving, the league’s preseason Player of the Year, will make the Terriers strong contenders to make a splash in their first year in the league. The strong frontcourt presence of Dudzinski will give Holy Cross, picked to finish seventh, a strong chance to exceed expectations.

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Harvard

  • Coach: Tommy Amaker (right), seventh season (112-66).

  • Last season: 20-10, 11-3 (first, Ivy League)

  • Starters: Wesley Saunders, 6-5, Jr. (16.2), Siyani Chambers, 6-0, So. (12.4), Laurent Rivard, 6-5, Sr. (10.3), Kyle Casey, 6-7, Sr., Brandyn Curry, 6-1, Sr.

  • Key reserves: Steve Moundou-Missi, 6-7, Jr. (7.4), Jonah Travis, 6-6, Jr. (6.2), Kenyatta Smith, 6-8, Jr. (5.8).

  • Outlook: As the unanimous favorite to win the Ivy League for the third year in a row, Harvard faces some high expectations. And rightfully so. The Crimson, who caught the nation’s fancy when they upset third-seeded New Mexico in the 2013 NCAA Tournament, return all but one letter-winner. To bolster an already loaded squad, Amaker will welcome back seniors Casey and Curry after they sat out a season following their involvement in a campus-wide cheating scandal. They join a roster that includes All-Ivy players in Saunders and Chambers, and 3-point sharpshooter Rivard.

  • IVY LEAGUE: With Harvard as loaded as it is, it’s painfully evident to the rest of the Ivy League that this will be a race for second place. Penn’s dynamic backcourt of Miles Jackson-Cartwright and Tony Hicks gives it a chance to keep pace with the Crimson’s loaded backcourt. Yale could loom as a factor after going 7-3 in its final 10 games last season. The Bulldogs return everyone on the roster with the notable exception of guard Austin Morgan. Brown could factor with the return of last year’s Defensive Player of the Year, Cedric Kuakumensah, for his sophomore season. But the loss of Tucker Halpern could be critical.

Nancy Palmieri/Globe Photo/File

UMass

  • Coach: Derek Kellogg (right), five years, (85-77).

  • Last season: 21-12, 9-7 (tied sixth, Atlantic-10).

  • Starters: Chaz Williams, 5-9, Sr. (15.5 ppg), Derrick Gordon, 6-3, So. (11.8), Raphiael Putney, 6-9, Sr. (7.1), Cady Lalanne, 6-10, Jr. (8.4), Sampson Carter, 6-8, Sr. (6.4).

  • Key reserves: Maxie Esho, 6-8, Jr. (5.5), Trey Davis, 6-0, So. (3.3), Tyler Bergantino, 6-9, So. (0.6).

  • Outlook: The Minutemen welcome back three starters, seven of their top nine scorers, and their top five rebounders from a squad that went 21-12 and qualified for the NIT. Led by Williams, a dynamic force of nature in the backcourt, UMass will attempt to return to the NCAA Tournament by cobbling together another 20-win season, it’s third in a row under Kellogg.

  • ATLANTIC 10: With all the comings and goings in the conference, it may be difficult to keep track of the newcomers and the defectors. Butler, Charlotte, Temple, and Xavier left, while George Mason followed Virginia Commonwealth over from the CAA. VCU looks to be the favorite to win the league, but will be tested by La Salle, Saint Louis, and UMass. They all have the look of NCAA Tournament teams, which would continue a trend, as the A-10 landed five bids last year.

Yoon S. Byun/Globe Staff/File

Northeastern

  • Coach: Bill Coen (far right), eighth season (111-113).

  • Last season: 20-13, 14-4 (first, CAA).

  • Starters: Quincy Ford, 6-8, Jr. (12.2 ppg), Reggie Spencer, 6-7, Jr. (9.8), David Walker, 6-6, So. (6.2), Marco Banegas-Flores, 6-1, So. (2.2), Demetrius Pollard, 6-2, Jr. (5.6).

  • Key reserves: Zach Stahl, 6-5, So. (5.7), Derrico Peck, 6-5, So. (0.9).

  • Outlook: The Huskies, who captured their first CAA regular-season crown since joining the conference in 2006-07, will be hard-pressed to duplicate the feat after losing their top two scorers in Joel Smith and Jonathan Lee. NU will likely become a frontcourt-oriented club with the return of silky smooth junior forward Ford and hard-working post player Spencer. Banegas-Flores is explosive enough off the dribble to keep the opposition honest in the backcourt. He will likely inherit the reins of the offense from the hyper-quick Lee. Walker and Pollard will give Coen some veteran depth and flexibility at the wing position.

  • COMMONWEALTH ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION: Realignment has forced the CAA (which no longer has a single team from the Commonwealth of Virginia) to reinvent itself and move its conference tournament from Richmond to Baltimore. The move could bode well for Towson, which returns four starters from an 18-13 team, including CAA Player of the Year Jerrelle Benimon, and was the preseason favorite to win the league. Drexel, with a pair of all-CAA backcourt performers in senior Frantz Massenat and junior Damion Lee, could factor in the race, as well as CAA newcomer College of Charleston and Delaware. NU, which won the regular-season title last year, was picked to finish sixth in the nine-team league.

Michael Vega can be reached at vega@globe.com.
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