With the three-time NEC champs LIU Brooklyn not making into the field for this week’s 2014 NEC Tournament, it means a new NEC champion will be crowned for the first time since 2010.
Here is the bracket for 2014 NEC Tournament (courtesy of the NEC):
With the brackets now set, here are my predictions for each round of the 2014 NEC Tournament.
#8 Fairleigh Dickinson @ #1 Robert Morris – RMU defeated FDU last week in their only meeting of the season, 69-64 at FDU. I think RMU should take care of FDU rather comfortably. Only #1 seed in the history of the NEC Tournament has lost a first round game and that was all back in the very first NEC Tournament. Sidney Sanders Jr. might keep FDU in the game for a while but I expect they RMU to ultimately win pretty convincingly.
My pick: ROBERT MORRIS
#5 St. Francis Brooklyn @ #4 Mount St. Mary’s – The Mount won their one and only meeting at home in the their second NEC game of the season. The Mount is a much better home team than away team which gives them an advantage. One thing that may give the Mount trouble is St. Francis Brooklyn size. The Mount won’t have much to combat the Terriers’ front court. Expect SFBK’s Jalen Cannon to have a great game. If the Mount’s threes are falling, it will likely be trouble for the Terriers. SFBK plays defense though so they might be able to slow down the Mount. I think SFBK’s defense and their big three of Cannon, Mockford and Jones ekes out a win on the road over the Mount’s big three of Norfleet, Whack and Prescott.
My pick: ST. FRANCIS BROOKLYN
#7 Central Connecticut State @ #2 Wagner – They split the season series with each team winning on the road. Yes, CCSU finished the season winning six of their last nine but I can’t see Wagner losing this game at home. Wagner is trying to erase the disappointments of the last two NEC Tournament where they lost in the semifinals as a 2-seed. They are a 2-seed once again and it is finals or bust. I think they take care of CCSU in round one. Wagner is just too deep and too athletic for CCSU in this stage.
My pick: WAGNER
#6 Saint Francis (PA) @ #3 Bryant – Neither team has come to the finish on any kind of a hot streak. I think Bryant lucks out with the most favorable matchup of the four quarterfinal games. One thing Bryant has plenty of that SFU doesn’t is offense. Bryant won the only meeting between the two and I believe Bryant will make rather quick work of the Red Flash and advance.
My pick: BRYANT
#5 St. Francis Brooklyn @ #1 Robert Morris – RMU won both meetings but the first meeting was the first game after the SFBK suspensions occurred and they needed a tip-in from Lucky Jones in overtime to escape with a win at home. I think third time will be the charm for the Terriers. I feel like RMU has been losing steam the past couple weeks and that they might be ripe for an upset. St. Francis Brooklyn can present them with a lot of problems inside, problems RMU won’t have the bodies to overcome. Karvel Anderson will be put up the points but I think the Terriers will escape with a close victory and move on to the NEC final.
My pick: ST. FRANCIS BROOKLYN
#3 Bryant @ #2 Wagner – St. Francis Brooklyn won the only meeting of the season. Wagner has lost in this round of the NEC Tournament the past two seasons hosting both times. I believe third time will be the lucky charm for Ken Ortiz, Latif Rivers and Bashir Mason as they get by in a close one over Bryant. Wagner’s depth and ability to play on both ends should be the deciding factor to bring the NEC Final to Grymes Hill on Staten Island.
My pick: WAGNER
#5 St. Francis Brooklyn @ #2 Wagner – Here it is. An all-NYC NEC final. Wagner took the only meeting between the two, winning by just one point. Both teams like to play defense. Both teams can go off on scoring spurt on offense. Both have perimeter scorers who like to shoot from deep and both can get their points inside. Both have good point guards. Both have good shot blockers. Both are pretty deep although Wagner is deeper with the Terriers down Hagigal, White and Santavenere due to suspensions. In the end, I think Wagner has enough of an edge all-around plus the home court advantage to win the NEC championship and return to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2002-03. I picked them to win it all in October and I’m sticking with them in March.
Final score prediction: 68-65
My 2014 NEC Champion: WAGNER
Let the games begin!!