By Korbett Koselak
In 2018, the fourth seeded Long Island-Brooklyn Blackbirds won the Northeast Conference tournament. The Blackbirds knocked off fifth seeded St. Francis Brooklyn, sixth seeded Fairleigh Dickinson and first seeded Wagner en route to playing in the First Four in Dayton- where they lost to Radford. Those 2018 Blackbirds are a microcosm of the Northeast Conference.
Since LIU-Brooklyn won the Northeast tournament in 2012, only one team has garnered the automatic bid after winning the conference in the regular season. Two different four seeds have won as well as a slew of two seeds. This is one of the most wide open conference tournaments in the country.
My team to watch in this tournament is Fairleigh Dickinson. Fairleigh Dickinson will enter the tournament as the one seed; holding a tiebreaker over St. Francis PA who also finished the regular season at 12-6 in conference. Fairleigh Dickinson enters the postseason having won five games in a row by an average of 11 points. They are very balanced with five different players scoring in double figures. Their most notable win of the season might be when they went on the road and beat regular season co-champion St. Francis by 18 points.
My tandem to watch for the NEC tournament is the Sacred Heart backcourt of Sean Hoehn and Cameron Parker. Hoehn is the second leading scorer in the Northeast with almost 18 ppg. He is also fifth in the league shooting threes at a 41 percent clip. His teammate Cameron Parker only averages six ppg, but leads the NEC averaging seven assists. They lead my team to watch.
Sacred Heart finished the season at 15-16, 11-7 in conference. They have won three games in a row and contain a veteran backcourt that often makes the difference in the postseason. Whomever wins this conference will almost assuredly be a 16-seed in the field NCAA tournament, but hey, after UMBC-Virginia last year, 1-135 right? While this tournament may not mean much to many across the country, for one group of 18-22 year olds, a dream is about to come true.
The Northeast Conference tournament begins on Wednesday, Mar. 6.