1. The Northeast Conference will employ a campus site playoff format for the sixth year in a row after an eight-year absence that saw the league's annual postseason tournament contested at one campus site (1999), at a municipal arena (2000-01) and at a single campus site for the quarterfinals and semifinals, followed by the highest remaining seed hosting the championship game (1998, 2002-04). The conference had previously employed a high-seed hosting format from 1991-97, though teams were not reseeded after the quarterfinals as the tournament is currently constructed.
2. Only five of the eight teams that qualified for the 2009 NEC Tournament return again this season. The absentees are Sacred Heart, St. Francis (NY) and Wagner.
The newcomers are Fairleigh Dickinson, Monmouth and Saint Francis (PA).
3. Central Connecticut State has earned an NEC Tournament berth 12 straight years, the longest current run in the conference. Fairleigh Dickinson holds the league record with 18 straight appearances from 1984-01.
4. The NEC has not had a back-to-back tournament winner since Rider in 1993 and 1994. The 16-year drought is the second longest in the country behind the Southland Conference, which last had a team win twice in a row back in 1992 and 1993 (Louisiana-Monroe).
5. Saint Francis (PA) will make its first NEC Tournament appearance since 2005. Looking to end a 15-year drought, the Red Flash are shooting for their first playoff victory since stopping St. Francis (NY), 95-76, in a 1995 opening round game. Saint Francis (PA) last reached the NEC semifinals in 1991, the same year the Red Flash won their lone NEC crown with a 97-82 win over Fairleigh Dickinson.
6. In what has developed into one of the great NEC rivalries, Robert Morris and Mount St. Mary's have met in the conference tournament in each of the last four seasons and 14 times over since the start of the 2005 season, and could once again be on a collision course with a potential semifinal matchup looming in Moon Township. The two teams split their season series in 2009-10, with the Colonials recording a 63-57 victory back on December 3rd in both team's NEC openers, before the Mount returned the favor on the final day of the regular season with a 63-61 win. Robert Morris leads the series over the past four-plus years by a 9-5 margin. To illustrate the tight nature of the rivalry, nine of the 14 meetings between the teams since the 2005-06 season have been decided by five points or less and the average margin of victory is just 5.9 points. There have been some memorable postseason games between the two programs, highlighted by Robert Morris rallying to defeat the Mount on a last second Dallas Green shot, 48-46, in the 2009 title game. The previous three years, the team that swept the regular season series went down in the playoffs. In the 2006 NEC quarterfinals, the fifth-seeded Colonials used a late three-pointer from then-freshman Jeremy Chappell to upend fourth-seeded Mount in Emmitsburg. In 2007, fifth-seeded Mount St. Mary's returned the favor, winning 78-61 against fourth-seeded RMU in quarterfinal action in Moon Township. In the 2008 semifinals, top-seeded RMU was ousted by the fourth-seeded Mountaineers, 83-65. The Mount would go on to capture its third league crown.
7. Quinnipiac, which won a share of its first-ever NEC regular season championship and a school Division I record 21 games, will take on Monmouth for the first time in NEC Tournament play. The Bobcats finish tied for first with Robert Morris, but earned the top seed and automatic berth to the Postseason NIT by beating the Colonials, 87-79, in their lone meeting on February 20.
8. Mount St. Mary's is the league's hottest team entering the NEC Tournament. The Mount has won 10 straight games - the longest streak in the conference this season - by an average margin of 16.9 points.
9. Central Connecticut State was the final NEC team to qualify for the tournament with a 68-56 victory over St. Francis (NY) in what amounted to a play-in game on Saturday. A win would have sent the Terriers to the tourney and ended the season for the Blue Devils.
10. Quinnipiac posted a perfect 12-0 home record during the regular season. The last NEC team to run through the regular season without losing at home was Monmouth, which finished the 2003-04 regular season 12-0, then defeated CCSU in the NEC title game in West Long Branch.
11. On the season, the four teams hosting quarterfinal games - Quinnipiac (12-0), Robert Morris (10-3), Mount St. Mary's (9-3) and Long Island (9-3) - are a combined 40-9 (.816) at home.
12. Since the league scrapped a divisional format in 1984, #1 seeds are a perfect 26-0 in their opening game of the NEC Tournament.
13. Despite the legacy of first round success #1 seeds have enjoyed in the NEC Tournament, Monmouth may have a puncher's chance at stopping top-seeded Quinnipiac. The Hawks handed the Bobcats the first of their three conference setbacks this season with a 72-60 victory in West Long Branch on January 2nd.
14. The #3 seed in the NEC Tournament - Mount St. Mary's - lost to quarterfinal partner and #6 seed Saint Francis (PA) earlier this season. The Mount fell, 73-66, in Loretto on December 5th. Mount St. Mary's did come back to knock off the Red Flash, 67-51, on February 25th.
15. Robert Morris is the only NEC team with a winning mark on the road at 9-7. Should they advance, the Colonials will play at least the first two rounds at home. Robert Morris could play away from home in the title game at top seeded Quinnipiac. The two teams met just once this season with the Bobcats scoring an 87-79 victory in Moon Township on February 20th.
16. Long Island, seeded fourth, beat fifth seed and quarterfinal opponent Fairleigh Dickinson, 68-62, in their only meeting this season back on
February 18th in Brooklyn.
17. Mount St. Mary's has the distinction of being the only team in the NEC to own victories over top seeds Quinnipiac and Robert Morris this season.
18. Good times in Moon Township. While the Robert Morris men tied for the top spot with a 15-3 record, the Colonial women earned the top seed in the women's tourney with a 17-1 mark. This marked the second time in three years that both the RMU men and women both won conference regular season titles. Mount St. Mary's (1995-96) is the only other school that has won both in the same year.
19. Monmouth needed eight wins to qualify for the final NEC Tournament spot. The last time a team needed at least eight wins to secure a playoff spot was back in 2005 when CCSU entered the postseason with an 8-10 mark.
20. Since moving to the eight-team tourney format in 1998 (seven qualified in 2001 only), Central Connecticut State has qualified for the NEC Tournament 12 out of 13 times, with Robert Morris one behind with 11. Fairleigh Dickinson, Monmouth, St. Francis (NY) and Wagner have made it tenof those years, followed by nine for Long Island and Mount St. Mary's, seven for Quinnipiac (first eligible in 2001) and Saint Francis (PA), and five for Sacred Heart (first eligible in 2002).
21. Robert Morris owns the most NEC tournament wins at home with 14. Prior to the four wins in Moon Township the last two years, the other 10 home victories for the Colonials came between 1982 and 1994. Fairleigh Dickinson is second with 11, followed by Long Island and Monmouth tied for third with nine apiece.
22. Central Connecticut State has recorded the second best winning percentage in NEC Tournament history. The Blue Devils are 14-8 (.636) in 11 tourney appearances. Likewise, CCSU head coach Howie Dickenman has posted an 14-8 (.636) record in NEC postseason play, the second-highest winning percentage among active league coaches and sixth all-time.
23. Within the last five years, two #8 seeds have nearly pulled off the first-ever upset of a #1 seed in NEC quarterfinal round play. In 2005, Monmouth's Marques Alston hit a layup at the buzzer to give the Hawks a 54-53 win over #8 CCSU. In 2006, Fairleigh Dickinson's Gordon Klaiber hit a bucket with ten seconds left on the clock as the Knights avoided the upset with a 66-65 triumph over #8 Quinnipiac.
24. While only five #7 seeds have ousted a #2 seed in the NEC Tournament, four of these upsets have come since 2000. In 2004, Central Connecticut State knocked out St. Francis (NY) (81-68) after Fairleigh Dickinson defeated Monmouth (63-61) in 2003. Quinnipiac topped Wagner (87-78) in 2002 and Mount St. Mary's booted Fairleigh Dickinson (73-68) in 2000. Marist also beat Monmouth (75-60) in 1992.
25. Only three NEC Tournaments - in 1987, 1991 and 1994 - have gone exactly according to seeding.
26. Conference teams have posted a 77-31 record (71.3 percent) when hosting NEC Tournament games throughout the league's history (current NEC teams only).
27. There are 17 players in this year's tournament who have competed on NEC championship teams. For Mount St. Mary's (2008): Jeremy Goode, Kelly Beidler, Will Holland, Jean Cajou, Shawn Atupem, Pierre Brown, Tayvon Jackson and Kevin Jones. For Robert Morris (2009): Rob Robinson, Mezie Nwigwe, Dallas Green, Gary Wallace, Josiah Whitehead, Khalif Foster and Jimmy Langhurst. CCSU's Joe Seymore (2007) and Monmouth's Whitney Coleman (2006) have also won NEC titles.
28. CCSU has won three NEC titles, but only when seeded first in the field (2000, 2002 and 2007).
29. Monmouth's rally from a 20-point second half deficit to win the 2001 NEC crown marked the biggest championship game comeback in league history.
30. Fairleigh Dickinson holds the league record for consecutive NEC semifinal appearances with nine in a row from 1983-91. St. Francis (NY) (1999-03) and Rider (1993-97) turned the trick five consecutive years.
31. Robert Morris' Jeremy Chappell (2009), CCSU's Javier Mojica (2007), Wagner's Jermaine Hall (2003), Monmouth's Rahsaan Johnson (2001), CCSU's Rick Mickens (2000), Long Island's Charles Jones (1997), Rider's Darrick Suber (1993), Robert Morris' Myron Walker (1992), St. Francis (PA)'s Mike Iuzzolino (1991), Robert Morris' Vaughn Luton (1989) and Long Island's Carey Scurry (1984) all were named NEC regular season and tournament Most Valuable Player. Incidentally, three of these players (Jones, Iuzzolino and Scurry) were named to the NEC's 10-man 25th Anniversary team in January, 2006.
32. The only teams to win back-to-back NEC titles are Robert Morris, which did it twice (1982-83 and 1989-90), along with Marist (1986, 1987) and Rider (1993, 1994).
33. In what will forever be known as "The Shot," Rider's Darrick Suber earned a place in NEC annals and ESPN Championship Week history in 1993. The Broncs and Seahawks battled tooth-and-nail for 39-plus minutes as Suber and Wagner's Bobby Hopson waged their own individual dual. With the Broncs trailing by a point in the game's waning seconds, Suber went coast-to-coast and hit an off-balance leaner just inside the free-throw line as time expired. The victory sent the Broncs Zoo into a frenzy and for a short time, brought the NEC into the forefront of the college basketball world. Look for a feature article on "The Shot" in this year's NEC Tournament program.
34. The longest win streak in NEC Tournament history is eight, shared by Robert Morris (1982-84) and Rider (1993-95).
35. In 2008, Mount St. Mary's became just the second team in NEC annals to claim the league championship after winning on the road in both the semifinals (over Robert Morris) and title contest (over Sacred Heart). Monmouth also turned the trick in 2006, beating CCSU in the semis and FDU for the championship. No NEC team has ever won three straight games on the road to win the league championship. Teams that have won NEC title games on the road (not including neutral sites): Mount St. Mary's (2008), Monmouth (2006), FDU (1998), Mount St. Mary's (1995), FDU (1985) and Robert Morris (1983).
36. NEC Championship games have historically been tightly contested affairs. Six games have been decided by exactly one point, including Monmouth's 49-48 win over Fairleigh Dickinson in 2006. A total of 13 have been decided by five points or less and 19 by ten or fewer points.
37. The 2009 NEC title game between Robert Morris and Mount St. Mary's was the lowest scoring finale in league history. The two teams combined for 94 points as the Colonials won 48-46, on a last second shot by future RMU folk hero Dallas Green.
38. Robert Morris and Fairleigh Dickinson have qualified for 26 of the league's 29 postseason tournaments - tied for most in league history - since the inception of the conference in 1982. The Knights missed out on the festivities in 2002, 2008 and 2009. Robert Morris didn't qualify in 1991, 2001 and 2003.
39. NEC coaches involved in this year's tournament who have conference championships under their belts are CCSU's Howie Dickenman, the Mount's Milan Brown and RMU's Mike Rice. Dickenman's Blue Devils won the title in 2000, 2002 and 2007, while Brown's Mountaineers were victorious in 2008 and Rice's Colonial squad took home the trophy in 2009.
40. Mount St. Mary's (1999) is the lone NEC school to win the conference title without having both a winning overall and conference record prior to entering the tournament.
41. Mount St. Mary's became the lowest seeded team (#6) to win the NEC Tournament back in 1999. In 2008, the Mount became the second lowest seeded team
(#4) to win it all.
42. Monmouth's Alex Blackwell (1990) and Rider's Charles Smith (1994) are the only two players to win both NEC Rookie of the Year and NEC Tournament MVP in the same season.
43. St. Francis (NY) is the lone NEC charter member - a group that also includes Fairleigh Dickinson, Long Island, Robert Morris, St. Francis (PA) and Wagner - that has yet to win an NEC title. The Terriers have also played the most games in NEC Tournament history (32) without winning a championship.
44. Fairleigh Dickinson's Tom Green and Marist's Dave Magarity are the only head coaches in league history to capture the NEC Tournament in their first season with their clubs. Coaches in this year's event without prior NEC tourney experience: FDU's Greg Vetrone and Saint Francis (PA)'s Don Friday.
45. The largest margin of victory in an NEC Tournament game is 35 points. That came on March 1, 1996 when Mount St. Mary's defeated Long Island, 93-58.
46. Robert Morris set a new NEC Tournament record on March 6, 2004, holding St. Francis (PA) to just 43 points in a quarterfinal victory.
47. Robert Morris has won the most NEC Tournament titles with six. Fairleigh Dickinson has won 27 NEC tournament games, one ahead of Robert Morris for the most in conference history.
48. Monmouth's Rahsaan Johnson holds the NEC Tournament single-game scoring mark with 40 points in an 86-70 loss to St. Francis (NY) on March 3, 2000.
49. Fairleigh Dickinson's 18 straight NEC Tournament appearances from 1984-01 is a league record. CCSU's 12 straight appearances is the longest current streak in the conference.
50. This year's event marks the 29th NEC Tournament. The first was contested in 1982 entirely at Marist College and was won by Robert Morris.