Conference Tourney Primers: NEC

Posted by Tommy Lemoine on March 4th, 2015

It’s the start of Championship Fortnight, so let’s gear up for the next 13 days of games by breaking down each of the Other 26’s conference tournaments as they get under way.

NEC Tournament

Dates: March 4, 7, 10

Site: Campus sites (higher-seeded teams host)


What to expect: St. Francis-Brooklyn is the team to beat after winning nine of its last 10 games and clinching the NEC title with ease. The Terriers boast the league’s best home record and its most dominant player, double-double machine Jalen Cannon. But they don’t exactly come in ‘hot,’ either, fresh off losing to Bryant on Saturday and squeaking by LIU-Brooklyn two days before that. Robert Morris and Mount St. Mary’s also gave them problems this season, and the conference tournament’s top seed has not advanced to the NCAA Tournament since 2012. If St. Francis-Brooklyn stumbles, there are probably five different teams capable of winning this event, the Colonials best among them.

Favorite: St. Francis-Brooklyn. Since the dawn of KenPom rankings, there has never been a larger chasm between the NEC’s best and second-best teams; St. Francis-Brooklyn ranks 145th while Robert Morris comes in at 204th. Throw in home court advantage and the conference’s top player and you understand why the Terriers are the favorites.

Darkhorse: Mount St. Mary’s. Mount St. Mary’s finished with seven conference losses last season, entered the tournament as the #4 seed and wound up dancing. This year? The Mountaineers finished with seven conference losses, enter as the #4-seed and… you get the picture. If ‘Mayem’ is working and the outside shots are falling – which they were in NEC play (35.7 percent) – watch out.

Who wins: St. Francis-Brooklyn. In addition to the factors mentioned above, the fact that St. Francis-Brooklyn does its damage on the offensive glass and at the free throw line – a style not very prone to off-nights – makes me think it will be fine. Expect the senior-laden Terriers to reach their first-ever NCAA Tournament.

Player to watch: Jalen Cannon – St. Francis-Brooklyn. Not only does the senior average a double-double (16.5 PPG, 10.2 RPG), he racked up a whopping 18 of them over the course of the season. Cannon is the NEC’s all-time leading rebounder and the NCAA’s current active leader in that category. And he’s even developed a three-point shot, knocking down 23 triples this season (31.7 percent).

Tommy Lemoine (250 Posts)

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