The NCAA Tournament is here and the New York/New Jersey area will be well represented. Here's a look at who each local team is playing and what their chances of making a run are:
Syracuse (No. 8 seed, West Region)
City/Tip time: Salt Lake City, 9:57 p.m.
Thursday TV: truTV
The skinny: The Orange (20-13) are the No. 8 seed in the West Region and have their work cut out for them. After losing five of seven to close the season, including two losses to overall No. 1 seed Duke, the Orange now head out west to Salt Lake City for a late tip on Thursday against No. 9 Baylor (19-13). Losers of four straight heading into the Big Dance, the Bears are led by sophomore forward Tristan Clark (14.6 ppg, 6.3 rpg) and redshirt senior guard Makai Mason (14.6 points, 54 3-pointers), who led Yale to a victory over Baylor in the 2016 NCAA Tournament. The good news for Syracuse is that junior wing Tyus Battle, a native of Edison, N.J. averaging 17.2 ppg, 3.3 rpg and 2.5 apg, will return to the court after missing two games with a back injury. "I'm feeling good," Battle told Syracuse.com Sunday evening in the Melo Center. "Almost close to 100 percent. I'll be ready to play."
How far can they go?: If Syracuse gets past Baylor, they will likely have face No. 1 seed Gonzaga (30-3) in the second round on Saturday. The Zags, who won the WCC regular-season title but lost to Saint Mary's in the conference championship game, have arguably the nation's best frontcourt in Rui Hachimura, Brandon Clarke and Killian Tillie. It looks like Syracuse won't get past the second round.
St. John's (No. 11 seed, West Region)
City/Tip time: Dayton, 9 p.m.
Wednesday TV: truTV
The skinny: After losing five of seven to close the season, including a 32-point loss to Marquette on Thursday in the Big East Tournament quarterfinals, the Johnnies (21-12) were on the bubble in a big way. They had to sweat it out on Selection Sunday and didn't hear their name called until near the very end of the show, when it was announced they'll have a play-in game against Bobby Hurley and Arizona State (22-10) Wednesday night in Dayton. The game will feature a matchup of coaches who starred in college and both played in the NBA in Hurley, who led Duke to back-to-back NCAA titles in the early 1990s, and Chris Mullin, the greatest player in St. John's history. St. John's will have its hands full with 6-foot-4 Sun Devils star Luguentz Dort (16.1 ppg, 4.3 rpg), one of several Canadians in the Big Dance. Shamorie Ponds has waited three years to play in the Big Dance, and now it's his chance to play on a national stage. "It definitely adds fuel to the fire," Ponds said of being named the last team in. "We should go in there with that mindset since everyone wanted to count us out. We have to prove everyone wrong and play St. John's basketball."
How far can they go?: St. John's should be happy they're in the tournament given their late-season swoon. That said, it doesn't look like they'll last very long. Arizona State won six of eight down the stretch to earn a bid. The winner of this game gets MAC Tournament and regular-season champion Buffalo, the No. 6 seed, on Friday in Tulsa, Okla. Led by coach Nate Oats, the Bulls are 31-3 and were ranked No. 18 in the AP Poll last week.
Seton Hall (No. 10 seed, Midwest Region)
City/Tip time: Jacksonville, 9:40 p.m.
Thursday TV: CBS
The skinny: Myles Powell and the Pirates (20-13) enter the Big Dance red hot, having beaten Marquette and Villanova in the final week of the regular season before marching into the Big East Tournament final on Saturday night, where they fell to Villanova, 74-72. Powell, the 6-foot-2 junior guard, scored 78 points in three games at the Garden. Now they travel south to face No. 7 Wofford (29-4), which won the Southern Conference Tournament over UNC-Greensboro. The Terriers are led by senior guard Fletcher Magee, who's averaging 20.5 points and shooting 43 percent from beyond the arc. Seton Hall guard Quincy McKnight will draw the assignment. "I'm more looking forward to the NCAA Tournament, I have more confidence in my team than I think I ever have," Pirates coach Kevin Willard said.
How far can they go?: If the Pirates can get past Wofford, they would likely get a rematch with No. 2 Kentucky, which faces No. 15 Abilene Christian in the first round. The Pirates, of course, stunned the Wildcats, 84-83, on Dec. 8 at the Garden behind some late-game heroics from Powell and Myles Cale. Beating Wofford and Kentucky back-to-back is asking a lot, but the Pirates have proven they can beat just about anyone this season. "We know we can play with anybody in the country and we're just going to get ready for the Tournament," Powell said.
Iona (No. 16 seed, Midwest Region)
City/Tip time: Columbus, 9:20 p.m.
Friday TV: TNT
The skinny: After a 2-9 start to the season in which one player was booted from the team for fighting with an assistant, the Gaels (17-15) came on strong when it mattered most. Iona won 10 straight to capture the MAAC regular-season title and then win the conference tournament. The Gaels made league history by becoming the first program to win four tournament championships in a row. Iona will make its fourth-straight NCAA Tournament appearance and sixth in nine seasons under head coach Tim Cluess. It is the first time since Seton Hall in 1991-94 that a team from the New York Metropolitan area will appear in the NCAA tournament in four straight seasons. Their reward was a No. 16 seed and a date with North Carolina (27-6), the No. 1 seed in the Midwest and the No. 3 overall seed. The Tar Heels are one of three ACC teams who got No. 1 seeds, along with Duke and Virginia.
How far can they go?: The Gaels play a fun uptempo style and average 76.8 ppg. Four players average in double-figures. The Tar Heels, meantime, also like to get up and down and average 86.1 ppg, so this game could be a fun one. If Iona somehow pulls off the upset, the would be just the second No. 16 ever to topple a No. 1 after UMBC stunned Virginia last year.
Fairleigh Dickinson (No. 16 seed, West Region)
City/Tip time: Dayton, 6:40 p.m.
Tuesday TV: truTV
The skinny: Greg Herenda and the Knights (20-13) closed their season by winning eight straight and captured the Northeast Conference's automatic bid with an 86-76 win over St. Francis (PA) in which five players reached double-figures, led by Darnell Edge's 21 points, Kaleb Bishop's 20 points and 11 boards and Jahlil Jenkins' 20 points. They now face a play-in game against Prairie View A&M (22-12) in Dayton on Tuesday.
How far can they go?: Like Syracuse, the bad news for the Knights is they would likely have to face No. 1 Gonzaga next. The Zags have the talent and experience to make a run all the way to the Final Four and challenge for the program's first NCAA title after they lost the 2017 title game to North Carolina. Both FDU and Iona can take inspiration from UMBC last season, however, knowing that at least one No. 16 seed now has beaten a No. 1.