Favorite(s)- Robert Morris 22-9 14-4
The Colonials fell to Long Island in last season’s NEC final, this year they are looking to knock the king of the mountain. Robert Morris is the #1 seed for the tournament and are looking to use their depth (a 10-man rotation) to wear down its competitors en route to the title. Robert Morris has six players averaging nearly nine points a contest.
Contender(s)-Bryant 19-10 12-6, Wagner 18-11 12-6, Long Island 17-13 12-6
Bryant is in its infancy of division 1 athletics and have had some growing pains. Last season they suffered 28 defeats, and in one of the biggest one-season turnarounds ever the Bulldogs won 19 games and secured themselves the 2nd seed in the NEC tournament. Bryant began its turnaround by defeating Boston College. They carried that momentum all the way into March and more than likely their first-ever post season appearance, maybe even the NCAA Tournament.
The Seahawks haven’t made the NCAA Tournament since 2003, 2013 may be their best chance since. They swept two-time champ Long Island and junior guard Kenneth Ortiz and his 12.0 points, 4.2 rebounds and 5.2 assists is one of the most entertaining players in the conference.
It isn’t very often that a two-time defending champion is considered something other than a favorite. But Long Island lost forward Julian Boyd for the season and they have “stumbled” to a 12-6 NEC record. With the likes of Jamal Olasewere and one of the more underrated point guards in the country Jason Brickman the Blackbirds will still be a force no matter what seed they are in the tournament.
Team Likely to pull an upset- Central Connecticut State 13-16 9-9
The Blue Devils have wins over Wagner and Robert Morris and have only 3 double digit league losses, which means they are always within striking distance. Add to that a scoring guard the likes of sophomore Kyle Vinales the ingredients for an upset or two are there for CCSU.
3 Key Players- Kyle Vinales-CCSU, Lucky Jones-Robert Morris, Jamal Olasewere-Long Island
Vinales is 6th in the country in scoring at 22.0 points a game, and even though the other Blue Devils finished in the middle of the NEC the sophomore guard can go off at any time and get a win for his team. Just ask Wagner who watched him average 36 to earn a split of the season series, or Robert Morris who saw him net 34 of his team’s 77 points in a 77-70 win.
After Velton Jones suffered a shoulder injury against Monmouth Lucky Jones has taken advantage of the opportunity of the increased playing time averaging 15 points in the next 13 games which saw the Colonials go 11-2. If RMU is lucky enough to return to the NCAA Tournament other teams are going to have to have a hard time keeping up with the Joneses.
Trying to three peat in the NEC and one of your stars goes down for the year, no problem. Long Island didn’t earn the crown by being a one-man show. So when Julian Boyd was lost for the season senior Jamal Olasewere and his 19.2 points and eight rebounds have brought the Blackbirds a 4 seed and you never look past the two-time defending champs come tournament time.
2013 NORTHEAST TOURNAMENT
March 6-12 Campus Sites
#1 Robert Morris vs. #8 St. Francis (NY)
#4 Bryant vs. #5 Mount St. Mary’s
#3 Long Island vs. #6 Quinnipiac
#2 Wagner vs. #7 Central Connecticut State