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October 14, 2009

League previews: Ivy, Northeast, Big South

Today, we continue our conference rankings countdown. We're working backward, from our No. 31 league to the top league in the nation.

We provide a quick overview of the league, our projected order of finish and the preseason first- and second-team all-league picks.

We've started with the low-major leagues, and are unveiling three per day. We'll do two mid-majors per day, then each of the top 10 leagues will get a day to itself.

29. IVY LEAGUE

Cornell was the only league team to finish with an overall winning record last season. The league can only hope that isn't the case in 2009-10, but the rest of its members have little hope of unseating the Big Red.

Cornell returns all the key pieces from a team that fell to Missouri in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Senior forward Ryan Wittman is the prohibitive favorite to bring home league player of the year honors, and coach Steve Donahue has bolstered the roster with some prominent newcomers.

There are other programs on the rise, though, including Tommy Amaker's Harvard Crimson and former Ivy pacesetter Princeton, which has a special young point guard in Doug Davis. Yale, Columbia and Penn need to find or develop more help up front to push into the upper echelon.

Predicted order of finish
1. Cornell
2. Princeton
3. Harvard
4. Columbia
5. Penn
6. Yale
7. Brown
8. Dartmouth

Preseason All-League Team
First team
C Jeff Foote, 7-0, Sr., Cornell
F Matt Mullery, 6-8, Sr., Brown
F Ryan Wittman, 6-7, Sr., Cornell
G Louis Dale, 5-11, Sr., Cornell
G Jeremy Lin, 6-3, Sr., Harvard
Second team
F Tyler Bernardini, 6-6, Jr., Penn
F Peter Sullivan, 6-5, Jr., Brown
G Doug Davis, 5-11, Soph., Princeton
G Chris Wroblewski, 6-0, Soph., Cornell
G Alex Zampier, 6-3, Sr., Yale

Player of the Year
F Ryan Wittman, 6-7, Sr., Cornell
Newcomer of the Year
G Brandyn Curry, 6-1, Fr., Harvard


Regular-season winner last season: Cornell (lost in first round of NCAA tourney to Missouri as a No. 14 seed)
Tournament winner last season: This league has no tournament

28. NORTHEAST CONFERENCE

Most of the teams in the conference have legitimate hopes of moving up this season. A young league in 2008-09 had just two seniors on the two all-conference teams.

Defending champ Robert Morris might be due for a tumble, with NEC player of the year Jeremy Chappell and defensive player of the year Bateko Francisco out of eligibility. The Colonials squeaked past rival Mount St. Mary's in the NEC title game before losing to Michigan State in the NCAA tournament's first round.

Mount St. Mary's, led by Jeremy Goode, is poised to reclaim the crown, although Long Island, Central Connecticut State and Quinnipiac have reason to believe as well. All return key players and lose little.

St. Francis (N.Y.) and Monmouth get back stars Kayode Ayeni and Whitney Coleman, respectively, after both suffered season-ending injuries in 2008-09, so those teams should see improvement.

Predicted order of finish
1. Mount St. Mary's
2. Long Island
3. Quinnipiac
4. Robert Morris
5. Central Connecticut State
6. Monmouth
7. St. Francis (N.Y.)
8. Sacred Heart
9. Wagner
10. Fairleigh Dickinson
11. St. Francis (Pa.)

Preseason All-League Team
First team
F Rob Robinson, 6-8, Sr., Robert Morris
F Justin Rutty, 6-7, Jr., Quinnipiac
G James Feldeine, 6-4, Sr., Quinnipiac
G Jeremy Goode, 5-9, Sr., Mount St. Mary's
G Jaytornah Wisseh, 6-1, Sr., Long Island
Second team
F Ken Horton, 6-6, Jr., Central Connecticut State
F Devin Sweetney, 6-6, Sr., St. Francis (Pa.)
G Sean Baptiste, 6-3, Sr., Fairleigh Dickinson
G Ricky Cadell, 6-2, Jr., St. Francis (N.Y.)
G Whitney Coleman, 6-3, Sr., Monmouth

Player of the Year
G Jeremy Goode, 5-9, Sr., Mount St. Mary's
Newcomer of the Year
G/F Justin Sofman, Jr., Monmouth


Regular-season winner last season: Robert Morris
Tournament winner last season: Robert Morris (lost in first round of NCAA tourney to Michigan State as a No. 15 seed)
2010 conference tournament: March 4, 7 and 10, with all games at campus sites of better seeds

27. BIG SOUTH

Coach Brad Greenberg led Radford to the biggest turnaround in Big South history last season. After finishing seventh in 2007-08, the Highlanders won the conference regular-season and tournament titles to earn a trip to the NCAA tournament, where they lost to North Carolina in the first round.

Can they do it again? Yes, they can. Although the Highlanders lost guard Kenny Thomas, they return the Big South player of the year in center Artsiom Parakhouski (16.2 ppg, 11.2 rpg) as well as All-Big South first-team forward Joey Lynch-Flohr (13.7 ppg, 5.9 rpg).

Winthrop - the lone league team that returns all five starters - UNC Asheville and Gardner-Webb look to have the best shot of dethroning Radford.

Predicted order of finish
1. Radford
2. UNC Asheville
3. Winthrop
4. Gardner-Webb
5. Liberty
6. High Point
7. VMI
8. Charleston Southern
9. Coastal Carolina
10. Presbyterian

Preseason All-League Team
First team
C Artsiom Parakhouski, 6-11, Sr., Radford
F Joey Lynch-Flohr, 6-8, Sr., Radford
F John Williams, 6-4, Jr., UNC Asheville
G Grayson Flittner, 6-0, Sr., Gardner-Webb
G Jamarco Warren, 5-11, Jr., Charleston Southern
Second team
F Joshua Henley, 6-3, Soph., Gardner-Webb
F Lazar Trifunovic, 6-8, Jr., Radford
G Nick Barbour, 6-2, Soph., High Point
G Austin Kenon, 5-11, Jr., VMI
G Kyle Ohman, 6-4, Sr., Liberty

Player of the Year
C Artsiom Parakhouski, 6-11, Sr., Radford
Newcomer of the Year
F Lazar Trifunovic, 6-8, Jr., Radford


Regular-season winner last season: Radford
Tournament winner last season: Radford (lost in first round of NCAA tourney to North Carolina as a No. 16 seed)
2010 conference tournament: March 2-6. Quarterfinals at home sites of top four seeds, semifinals at No. 1 seed, final at best-remaining seed



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