It is a great time to be a fan of NCAA basketball. Conference tournaments are about to get into full swing, with the Atlantic Sun already underway. Today will see the Big South Conference tip-off, followed by three more on March 1st. One of those three will be the Northeast Conference.
While most conference play in the typical bracket format, the Northeast does things a little differently. Instead of following the normal format, teams are re-seeded after each round. Therefore, Mount Saint Mary’s, who owns the one seed, will get the weakest opponent possible in their first two games, assuming they can win round one. With eight teams in the mix, we will see three rounds in total.
Things will tip-off on Wednesday, March 1st. The semi-finals will then take place on March 4th. Then to close things out, a champion will be rewarded an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament on March 7th. You can check out the seedings and bracket below.
(1) Mount Saint Mary’s
(2) LIU Brooklyn
(4) Saint Francis
(6) Fairleigh Dickinson
(7) Robert Morris
(8) Sacred Heart
— Northeast Conference (@NECsports) February 26, 2017
So to start things off, we have Mount Saint Mary’s taking on Sacred Heart. Unlike most one seeds, this is not going to be a cakewalk. While I am not high on Sacred Heart, I simply think Mount Saint Mary’s has played over their heads. Since these small conferences are always full of upsets, I am going with one right off the bat. I’ll take Sacred Heart 72-70.
This will give LIU Brooklyn the chance to become the top dog in this tournament if they can take down Robert Morris. While they are far from a perfect team, they will have enough to advance to the second round. Their best quality is their ability to create possessions. That will be the biggest difference in this one as LIU Brooklyn wins it 70-66.
Moving on down the line, we have Fairleigh Dickinson going toe-to-toe with number three Wagner. Wagner is not that great shooting the ball, but they can ramp it up on defense when they need to. Luckily for them, Fairleigh Dickinson should not be much of a threat. I will take Wagner, 75-69.
The first round closes out with the four-five matchup. Saint Francis will be going up against Bryant for the right to take on Wagner. Saint Francis is probably one of the most over-seeded teams in all of these conference tournaments. I simply cannot find a reason to pick them to win this one. So while Bryant is not going to tear the house down, I will go with them 72-71.
Opening the semi-finals we have LIU Brooklyn taking on round one’s biggest surprise, Sacred Heart. But unfortunately for Sacred Heart, this is where their journey will come to an end. LIU Brooklyn will once again use their ability to create possessions to earn a victory and a chance in the title game. But it will still be closer than most would expect, 71-70.
So who will get the chance to take on LIU Brooklyn, Wagner or Bryant? Well, the answer to that question is quite simple. Wagner will have no issues in dispatching of Bryant. Bryant will not be able to get much going on the offensive end, leading to a fairly ugly game. Give me Wagner 77-69.
Time to find out who gets that auto-bid! The two seed LIU Brooklyn will go up against the three seed Wagner. Overall this is a fairly weak conference, as I do not see either team being much of a threat come the NCAA Tournament. The winner will either be looking at either a 15 or 16 seed. And that team will be Wagner, who just get past the two seed by a score of 69-68.
So what do you think? Who will come out of the Northeast Conference Tournament on top? Will Mount Saint Mary’s be able to avoid an upset and earn the conference’s bid into the Big Dance? Tell us in the comments!