Somerset, NJ --
It was a wild ride this season in the Northeast Conference, but the final day of the regular season brought some clarity to the standings as well as finalized pairings for the 2013 NEC Men's Basketball Tournament. Robert Morris clinched its fourth NEC regular season title in six years and tenth overall, and will enjoy home court advantage throughout the playoffs. The Colonials also earned the league's automatic bid to the Postseason NIT should they falter in the tourney.
With only one win separating the teams seeded from second to sixth, this year's playoffs have the potential to be one of the most competitive in recent memory. Consider this: In each of the four quarterfinal matchups, the lower seeded team beat the higher seeded team during the regular season.
The 32nd Annual NEC Basketball Tournament will consist of an eight-team playoff format with all games played at the home of the higher seed. After the quarterfinals, the teams will be reseeded so the highest remaining seed plays the lowest remaining seed in the semifinals.
2013 Northeast Conference
Men’s Basketball Tournament
(all games played at home of higher seed)
Wednesday, March 6
#8 St. Francis Brooklyn at #1 Robert Morris, 7:00 pm
#7 Central Connecticut at #2 Wagner, 7:00 pm
#6 Quinnipiac at #3 LIU Brooklyn, 7:00 pm
#5 Mount St. Mary's at #4 Bryant, 7:00 pm
Saturday, March 9
Lowest Remaining Seed at Highest Remaining Seed,
12 or 2:30 pm*
3rd Highest Remaining Seed at 2nd Highest Remaining Seed, 12 or 2:30 pm*
* Games to be televised on MSG2, Fox College Sports (FCS) and ESPN3
Tuesday, March 12
7:00 pm on ESPN2
NEC Men's Tournament quarterfinal play commences on Wednesday, March 6, followed by the semifinal round on Saturday, March 9. Both semifinal games will be televised on MSG2, Fox College Sports and ESPN3 at noon and 2:30 pm. The championship game, to air on ESPN2, will be contested on Tuesday, March 12 at 7:00 pm.
The NEC’s return to a playoff format in 2005 came 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.
Robert Morris (22-9, 14-4)
won back-to-back NEC titles in 2009 and 2010, and reached the title game in each of the past two years. The Colonials ended the regular season on a five-game win streak, including a 77-75 title-clinching win at Bryant on Thursday. Robert Morris has now posted an 85-23 record in NEC play over the last six years while at the same time racking up 139 overall wins - including five 20-victory campaigns - a league record for the time frame. St. Francis Brooklyn (12-17, 8-10 NEC)
punched its ticket to the postseason with a 92-80 win over Sacred Heart in a win-and-you're-in game on Saturday afternoon. The Terriers, who beat Robert Morris in their lone regular season meeting, have now qualified for the NEC Tournament three straight seasons and will attempt to become the first #8 seed to knock off a #1 seed in tourney history.
2012-13 meeting: SFC 71, RMU 61 (1/31 at SFC)
Wagner (18-11, 12-6 NEC)
snagged the #2 seed on Saturday evening by downing Monmouth and concluded the regular season with five wins in its last six outings. The Seahawks were also seeded second a year ago, and advanced to the semifinals before falling to Robert Morris. This is also the 10th anniversary of Wagner's lone NEC championship back in 2003. Central Connecticut (13-16, 9-9 NEC)
, seeded at #7, has been a model of consistency during the Howie Dickenman era, and has now qualified for the NEC Tournament 15 straight seasons, the longest current streak in the league. The Blue Devils have won three NEC titles under the veteran coach (2000, 2002 and 2007).
2012-13 meetings: CCSU 73, WC 66 (1/17 at CCSU); WC 101, CCSU 82 (2/14 at WC)
LIU Brooklyn (17-13, 12-6 NEC)
hopes to etch its name in the league recordbook. The two-time defending NEC champions are attempting to become the first program in conference history to threepeat, and will begin that quest at home after securing the #3 seed with a pair of wins this past week. LIU is now 44-10 over the last three years in NEC play, the second-best three-year stretch in NEC history. The high-scoring Blackbirds began the year 0-3 in league play, but recovered to win 12 of their last 15 games. Quinnipiac (15-15, 11-7 NEC)
could have wrapped up the #2 seed on Saturday, but a 96-90 setback to quarterfinal opponent LIU dropped the Bobcats all the way down to the #6 seed. The Bobcats, who have won seven-of-nine, have reached the postseason eight straight years and have advanced to the NEC semifinals or further in each of the last four seasons. The two teams will meet in Brooklyn for the second time in five days on Wednesday.
2012-13 meetings: QU 82, LIU 74 (1/5 at QU); LIU 96, QU 90 (3/2 at LIU)
Fourth-seeded Bryant (19-10, 12-6 NEC)
is on the verge of completing the greatest year-to-year turnaround in NCAA history. The Bulldogs finished with a 2-28 record a year ago, but have posted a remarkable 17-win improvement and 17.5 game turnaround in 2012-13. All this has come in Bryant's first year of NEC and NCAA postseason eligibility following a five-year NCAA reclassification process. No team is hotter than Bryant's opponent, fifth-seeded Mount St. Mary's (16-13, 11-7 NEC)
. The Mountaineers head into the postseason having won seven straight games by an average margin of 12.7 ppg. Under first year head coach Jamion Christian, the Mount improved by five wins in NEC play and secured the program's highest seed since 2010.
2012-13 meetings: BRY 79, MSM 78 OT (1/17 at BRY); MSM 84, BRY 70 (2/14 at MSM)
About The Northeast Conference
Now in its 32nd year, the Northeast Conference is an NCAA Division I collegiate athletic association consisting of 12 institutions of higher learning located throughout six states. Media coverage of the NEC extends to four of the largest markets in the United States - New York (#1), Pittsburgh (#23), Baltimore (#27), and Hartford/New Haven (#30). Founded in 1981 as the basketball-only ECAC Metro Conference, the NEC has grown to sponsor 23 championship sports for men and women and now enjoys automatic or play-in access to 14 different NCAA Championships. NEC member institutions include Bryant, Central Connecticut State, Fairleigh Dickinson, LIU Brooklyn, Monmouth, Mount St. Mary’s, Quinnipiac, Robert Morris, Sacred Heart, St. Francis Brooklyn, Saint Francis U and Wagner. For more information on the NEC, visit the league’s official website (www.northeastconference.org
) and digital network (www.necfrontrow.com
), or follow the league on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube (@NECsports).