Northeast Basketball: Sacred Heart, St. Francis (PA) tournament favorites

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LAS VEGAS, NV – NOVEMBER 24: Head coach Anthony Latina of the Sacred Heart Pioneers reacts on the bench as his team takes on the Northern Colorado Bears during the 2016 Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational basketball tournament at the Orleans Arena on November 24, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Northern Colorado won 81-59. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The Northeast Basketball Conference has a top seed hoping to return to the Big Dance for the first time since 1991. Will they be able to get there?

The Northeast Conference may not be the most anticipated conference tournament as we head towards Selection Sunday but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have intriguing things that people should watch for. The top seed Saint Francis (PA) is trying to get back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1991.

The conference, while not having an elite team was hotly contested. Central Connecticut State and Mount Saint Mary’s finished in 9th and 10th place respectively, and as a result, failed to qualify for the tournament. As for the rest of the league, the top five teams were separated by just three games, and the other three qualifying teams, Long Island, Wagner, and Bryant were all within two games of each other.

For the top-seeded Red Flash junior guard, Keith Braxton leads them in nearly every category and is a likely candidate for the Player of the Year award. But Saint Francis (PA) will have plenty of competition as the Red Flash are the only team to have swept a team that earned a top-four seed, they swept Robert Morris. Throughout the year the teams in this conference beat up on each other, which led to a close conference race and a top team with a 12-6 record.

Don’t be surprised if the winner of this tournament comes from outside the top four teams. Last season the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds fell in the quarterfinals and last year’s top seed Wagner comes in seeded seventh and defending champ Long Island is just ahead of them in sixth.

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