CBB Review highlights the ins and outs of every conference tournament leading up to Selection Sunday. Up next: The NEC Tournament.
The NEC usually doesn’t garner as much hype as most postseason tournaments. However, with the nation’s leading scorer in Peter Kiss and a triple-double threat any time Alex Morales steps onto the court, this year’s NEC Tournament is drawing more attention than usual.
Players to Watch
- Peter Kiss, Bryant
- Alex Morales, Wagner
- Ty Flowers, LIU
- Charles Pride, Bryant
- Eral Penn, LIU
No, I didn’t just choose the five leading scorers in the conference. Rather, these five all bring unique styles of play to the hardwood that makes it difficult for opposing teams to conquer. They also happen to be on the top three seeded teams in the NEC Tournament.
Kiss and Morales are the biggest game-changers on this shortlist. When he gets hot, Kiss is the best scorer in the country. Before Bryant’s latest win over Wagner, Kiss put up 30 or more in six straight games. His opponent in that game, Alex Morales, dropped a light 24 points, 12 rebounds, and 5 assists. He’s the closest thing to a do-it-all player in the NEC Tournament.
Kiss and Charles Pride make up a lethal duo, as Pride can put up stellar numbers as well. The Syracuse native averages 17.8 points on the season, making Bryant one of the toughest teams to slow down.
LIU has its own feared duo in Ty Flowers and Eral Penn. Although the Sharks don’t boast an extremely gifted backcourt, the two forwards combine for over 36 points per game and contribute double-doubles on what seems like a nightly basis.
Team to watch: Sacred Heart
I have reservations if the Pioneers can actually win a game in the NEC Tournament but the simple fact that they’ve won two straight and have been competitive against the league’s best leads me to think the 6-10 conference record isn’t justified. Watch out for Nico Galette, who’s playing his best basketball of the season.
NEC Tournament Simulation
Opening Round – Monday, February 28
8. Fairleigh Dickinson vs 9. CCSU – 7 p.m.
Nigel Scantlebury is on fire averaging 22.7 over his last three games. Hammer the Blue Devils.
Quarterfinals – Wednesday, March 2
9. CCSU vs 1. Bryant – 7 p.m.
I’m not sure if anything is stopping Kiss and Pride right now. Bryant by a million.
5. St. Francis (BKN) vs 4. Mt. St. Mary’s – 7 p.m.
The Terriers took the most recent of the series and have won three of five. They’re moving on.
7. St. Francis (PA) vs 2. Wagner. – 7 p.m.
It doesn’t matter if you like upsets. Wagner isn’t going out this early.
6. Sacred Heart vs 3. LIU – 7 p.m.
Sacred Heart can pose an offensive challenge for the Sharks and beat them once before. But LIU is far too big in a one-and-done type scenario.
Semifinals – Saturday, March 5
1. Bryant vs 5. St. Francis (BKN) – TBD
The Bulldogs beat the Terriers by 17 the first time around and decided to up it to a 20 point win at St. Francis on February 24. The third time isn’t the charm.
2. Wagner vs 3. LIU – TBD
In a star power filled semifinals game, I like the team with a guard to take over. Alex Morales, that means you.
Championship – Tuesday, March 8
1. Bryant vs 2. Wagner – 7 p.m.
I’ve been on the Alex Morales hype train this whole season and I’m not about to stop here. I’ve also been to Wagner (one time!) so shoutout to my friend from Seahawks nation. Welcome to the Big Dance!