Northeast Basketball: 2018 Conference Tournament Preview

SOUTH BEND, IN – NOVEMBER 13: Junior Robinson

In a wide open season within the Northeastern Conference, Wagner College has earned the top seed heading into this week’s NEC Tournament, but can they close the deal?

When To Watch

Quarterfinals

All quarterfinals will be played on February 28th at 7 p.m. on the home floor of the higher seed.

Semifinals

On March 3rd, the first semifinal will be played at 12 p.m. on the home court of the higher seed. Immediately following the first semifinal, the second semifinal will be played at 2 p.m. on the home court of the higher seed.

Finals

The Northeastern Conference Championship will be played on Tuesday, March 6th at 7 p.m. on the home court of the higher seed.

Where To Watch

Quarterfinals

All quarterfinal games can be streamed on NEC Front Row.

Semifinals

All semifinal games can be streamed on ESPN3 and NEC Front Row.

Finals

The NEC Conference Championship game will be broadcasted on ESPN2 and streamed on ESPN3.

Who to Watch

Tyler Kohl

Averaging 16.8 points and 8.3 rebounds per game, Tyler Kohl is the key to Central Connecticut’s bid to take down top-seeded Wagner College. Last week, Kohl fell below his season averages in points and rebounds in a two-point loss against Wagner. If the Blue Devils are going to have shot at pulling the biggest upset of the tournament, he’s going to have to show up.

JoJo Cooper

The senior out of Wilmington, Delaware will be relied upon heavily in this week’s tournament. The only issue with that is that his performance this season on the court has been extremely erratic. The 6-1 guard can go from scoring four points against Fairleigh Dickinson to scoring twenty-three against Sacred Heart in the blink of an eye. While Wagner is the favorite in this year’s NEC Tournament, they are by no means a lock if Cooper cannot remain a consistent scorer.

Junior Robinson

Standing at 5’5, Junior Robinson is easy to overlook both figuratively and literally. With that being said, overlooking Robinson is not wise in any way. As a top fifty scorer in the nation, Robinson is the most lethal weapon in Mount St. Mary’s arsenal. Look for him to play a major factor in their efforts to get back to the NCAA Tournament.

Keith Braxton

Braxton is without a doubt the most exciting young player in the NEC. After averaging thirteen points and eight rebounds per page as a freshman, Braxton came back for his sophomore season to average seventeen points, three assists and nearly ten rebounds per game. Having just dropped twenty-seven on them last week, look for Braxton to give Fairleigh Dickinson all it can handle in their quarterfinal matchup.

 

What To Watch

Jamaal King vs. Junior Robinson

If Mount St. Mary’s and St. Francis (PA) take care of business in the first round, we could be in a matchup of two dominant guards under 6’0. Mount St. Mary’s guard, Junior Robinson, is a known commodity within NEC basketball circles, but St. Francis’s Jamaal King could make a name for himself this postseason if he continues playing the way he has of late.

While shooting 55% from the field and 80% from the free throw line in his last five games, King has managed average twenty-four points, four rebounds and three assists per game. If he continues to play like this, he’s going to give Mount St. Mary’s leading scorer, Junior Robinson series issues on the defensive end of the floor in their probable second-round matchup.

Why You Should Watch

The first round of the NEC Tournament may be more exciting than any other conference tournament in college basketball. Reigning champion, Mount St. Mary’s needed overtime to beat #3 Seed St. Francis (PA) earlier this season. #4 and #5 seeds, St. Francis (BKN) and LIU-Brooklyn, split their season in two games that were decided by five points or less. Last week, #8 seed Central Connecticut took #1 seed Wagner down to the buzzer.  In short, the NEC Championship is up for grabs.

Prediction

Quarterfinals

#1 Wagner, 72 – #8 Central Connecticut, 69

#2 Mount St. Mary’s, 68 – #7 Robert Morris, 50

#3 St. Francis (PA), 76  – #6 FDU, 64

#4 LIU-Brooklyn, 75 vs. #5 St. Francis-Brooklyn, 71

Semifinals

#4 LIU-Brooklyn, 74 – #1 Wagner, 71

#3 St. Francis (PA), 64 – #2 Mount St. Mary’s, 62

Finals

#3 St. Francis (PA), 78 – #4 LIU-Brooklyn, 70