by Stuart Kaufman, Keene State Sports Information
KEENE, N.H. - Trying to decipher the numerous basketball standings scenarios in the Little East Conference would make your head spin these days.
With two regular season games remaining, seven women's teams are jockeying for position in the post-season tournament that will include only six squads this year. The picture on the men's side is a bit clearer with the top six teams in place. However where they finish when the final horn sounds on Saturday night is still up in the air.
"The last two games are very import standings-wise and hopefully our players realize that," said KSC women's coach Keith Boucher. "Fortunately, we're at home for both of those games."
"My younger assistants are really having a lot of fun trying to determine all the possibilities," said KSC men's coach Rob Colbert. "I used to get caught up in that, but there are so many scenarios that I just focus on where we are right now."
Right now the Owl women find themselves in fifth place in the standings with a 14-8 overall and 6-6 LEC record. By winning its final two games, KSC could move as high as third and secure a much coveted first-round home game.
Meanwhile with a pair of wins, the KSC men, owners of a 13-10 (6-6 LEC) mark, still have a chance of moving up to fourth and staying home for a quarterfinal game.
"Our first goal was to make the playoffs, our second was to get a home game, and our third was to win the championship," said Colbert. "I think we can still control our destiny a little bit, but we're going to have to take it one game at a time and try to beat Plymouth."
If the battle for playoff position wasn't enough, the schedule makers have added a little spice to the standing sauce by having the Owls hosting rival Plymouth State on Tuesday night at Spaulding Gym.
The Panthers like the Owls are also in a tug-of-war when it comes to playoff positioning. The PSU men (15-8, 7-5 LEC) are currently in fourth place while Panther women are sixth with a 15-8 (5-7 LEC) record.
"I know Plymouth is going to come in tomorrow and they're going to be ready to play for 40 minutes," said Boucher. "We have to be able to match their intensity and focus."
Back on Jan. 26 in Plymouth, the Owl women lost 62-59 while the Keene State men came out on top 80-72.
"The only thing you can take out of that game is the fact that we beat them," said Colbert. "You have to be careful, especially with a young team, thinking that it's just going o happen. I think we have to remember how hard we had to work to get the win."
With their victory in Plymouth, the PSU women snapped a 12 game losing streak against the Owls. Since the 1980-81 season, KSC owns a 24-11 lead in the series, including a 24-11 advantage in LEC play.
The Keene State men have won seven of its last 10 games against PSU. KSC has the better mark in LEC play (17-13), but the Panthers have a slight 52-51 edge in the overall series.
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