Eph teams earn seeds for the NESCAC basketball tourney
WILLIAMSTOWN -- The Williams College basketball teams now know where they’ll be starting on the road to the NESCAC Championship.
Williams earned the second seed in the men’s tournament and will start the tourney at home Saturday afternoon against Tufts. The game will start at 3.
The women are seeded sixth and will travel to No. 3 Bowdoin on Saturday.
There are four games in each tournament with the higher seeds hosting. The semifinal and final round will be held March 1-2 at the home of the highest remaining seed.
"I am very proud of my team," Williams men’s coach Mike Maker said after the seeds were announced. "We’ve won eight in a row. We tied for the NESCAC title. I feel very good about our basketball team and where we’re at."
Williams (21-3, 9-1 in NESCAC) and top-seeded Amherst finished with the exact same conference and overall records. The Lord Jeffs earned the top seed by beating Williams 84-73 back on Jan. 11.
Williams is seeking its fourth NESCAC title and first since 2010.
Tufts, Colby and Wesleyan all finished tied at the bottom of the playoff table, but Tufts and Colby had tiebreakers to make the tournament. The Mules are the eighth seed and will play No. 1 Amherst.
Tufts (13-11, 4-6) will play Williams for the first time in a NESCAC tournament since 2007. Williams won that game 84-72, and the Ephs beat the Jumbos 93-70 back on Feb. 8. But to Maker, that’s all history.
"Every team in our league is a challenge to play," he said. "We have to get ready for Tufts. It’s a contrast of different styles.
"Every first-round game this year is going to be a hard-fought contest."
The Eph men enter this postseason on an eight-game winning streak. And two of Williams’ three losses have come to Amherst.
In the other men’s quarterfinal matchups, sixth-seeded Hamilton is at No. 3 Middlebury, while No. 5 Trinity travels to No. 4 Bowdoin.
The Williams women and Connecticut College both finished with identical 6-4 league records, but the Camels earned the fifth seed by virtue of Friday’s win over Williams.
Eph head coach Pat Manning said that losing out on the higher seed won’t have much of an impact on her team.
"We didn’t play great at Conn. We rebounded at Wesleyan with a win" on Saturday, Manning said Sunday afternoon. "This team doesn’t worry about that stuff. They focus on the present."
And that could be because Williams doesn’t know better. It’s a team without a senior on the roster and a squad that has a freshman like Lauren McCall coming off the bench to play a critical role.
Williams finished its regular season 20-4 as did the Polar Bears of Bowdoin. Williams beat Bowdoin at Chandler Gym 69-55 on Jan. 17. Williams has beaten Bowdoin three straight times. The last win for the Polar Bears came on Feb. 4, 2012 in Brunswick.
"We match up well with them," said Manning. "They play great defense. It’s definitely a challenge. I feel like we match up well. We had a great game against them in January."
Tufts (23-1, 10-0) is the top seed and will host No. 8 Wesleyan (12-11, 3-7). Amherst is seeded second and the Lord Jeffs (22-2, 9-1) will host seventh-seed Hamilton (11-12, 4-6). Trinity is the No. 4 seed and the Bantams (15-8, 7-3) will host in-state rival Conn. College (14-10, 6-4).
TALK TO US
If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.