March Madness: SJU, SHU, ‘Cuse headline locals at the dance

March Madness. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
March Madness. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /
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March Madness
Javin DeLaurier, Duke Blue Devils. Jeremy Jones, Rui Hachimura, Gonzaga Bulldogs. March Madness (Photo by Darryl Oumi/Getty Images) /

The NCAA Basketball Tournament a.k.a March Madness starts this week. Empire Writes Back has a look at all seven area teams that will be playing.

Call it what you will, March Madness, or Big Dance, or field of 68, the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament starts Wednesday night. Seven teams in New York and surrounding areas have qualified for college basketball’s biggest stage.

Empire Writes Back takes a look at those teams and assess their chances of advancing. Can a team from one of the power conferences make a run to Minneapolis? Will one of the mid-majors be the next 2006 George Mason and wear a glass slipper?

Here are the “contenders.”

Colgate Raiders (24-10) – 15th seed South Regional

How they got here: Patriot League Champions

Opening round opponent: #2 seed Tennessee 3/22

Better known as the other NCAA Division 1 conference that doesn’t offer athletic scholarships, the Patriot League isn’t considered much of a threat. Even so, Colgate battled through a grueling 18-game conference schedule and then the conference tournament, winning both. The Raiders are led by 6-10 Rapolas Ivanauskas who had 16.4 points per game (PPG) and 7.9 rebounds per game (RPG).

Their odds on beating Tennessee are slim. Colgate averages 13 turnovers per game and the Vols can turn TO’s into points quickly in the transition game. Colgate’s best chance is if they catch UT looking past them, but after last years upset loss to Loyola in the second round, Tennessee should be very focused.

Fairleigh Dickenson Knights (20-13) – 16th seed West Regional

How they got here: Northeast Conference Champions

First Four round opponent: Prarieview A&M

Talk about finishing the season on a high note. FDU shook off a miserable 7-11 start to 2018-19, by winning 13 of their final 15 games. Even so, the Knights never beat anyone of consequence. According to the NCAA Net Rankings (replaced RPI), Fairleigh Dickenson was 203rd.

That leads to a good news, bad news scenario. On the bright side, they have a fair chance of defeating SWAC Champions, Prarieview A&M (Net Ranked 205th)Tuesday night in the “First Four.” Unfortunately, if they do win, it sets up a date with a fired up Gonzaga Bulldogs team.