4. New Hampshire Wildcats: 19-12 (11-5) Lost First Round CIT
The Wildcats were without a doubt the breakout team of the year. Coming off a dismal 2013-14 season (6-24 overall) not many people expected them to excel the way they did, so they didn't seem like much of a threat. While Stony Brook, Albany and Vermont were battling each other for the top position, New Hampshire slowly and quietly rose in the standings. This was their best season in years and they intend to keep it going.
They only have two seniors this year, Ronnel Jordan and Frank Okeke, and a younger team that most, but have their top scorers, Tanner Leissner (12.8 ppg) and Jaleen Smith (10.5 ppg), returning to the roster this year.
Their schedule will be a nice judgement of where they will be once conference season starts. With their second game of the season against the UConn Huskies, and other games against the likes of Boston College and former America East members, Boston University, they have their work cut out for them.
Key Players: Tanner Leissner, Jaleen Smith
5. Hartford Hawks: 14-16 (7-9) Lost AE Semifinals
Hartford had it all last year: 6 seniors and a drive for the America East title. What happened was a slew of injuries to key players and an overall performance that just wasn't cutting it. While they've lost a large chunk of their team, they do have replacements. Whether or not they can step up and fill the shoes of their predecessors is a different story.
Replacing Mark Nwakamma is John Carroll and Jack Hobbs. For Yolonzo Moore there is now Justin Graham and for Wes Cole there is the lone veteran senior, Taylor Dyson and returning after a year off, Evan Cooper. The only open spot that hasn't been clearly designated is to replace the defense powerhouse that was Corban Wroe.
Hartford has a few challenges as far as non-conference opponents in St. Louis, Lousiville and Providence. These tough teams are going to hopefully set the stage for their conference season
Key Players: Taylor Dyson, John Carroll, Justin Graham
6. Binghamton Bearcats: 6-26 (5-11) Lost AE Quarterfinals
Binghamton was a bit of a mess last year. Losing their star player mid-season (Jordan Reed) caused a lot of trouble as he was being groomed to be the leader of the team. They were very young and did their best with the limited experience. The Bearcats needed a complete overhaul of their playing style.
With a lot going against them, a few key players emerged to give them hope. Willie Rodriguez took the reins, averaging 11.8 ppg and partnered with Romello Walker (4.6 rpg) and Marlon Beck (2.6 apg) they have a bright future ahead.
Their biggest game of the season comes with a match up against Michigan State University. While the likelihood of them winning the game is very low, it will be a good experience to test their ability.
Key Players: Willie Rodriguez, Dusan Perovic, Romello Walker