Josh Cohen, St. Francis PA Red Flash, NEC Tournament Preview

CBB Review prepares you for every conference tournament leading up to Selection Sunday. Up next: The NEC Tournament.


For the second time since joining Division 1, Merrimack holds the one seed in the NEC Tournament and has taken home the regular season crown. However, due to the NCAA’s transitional period, even if they win the NEC Tournament, cannot compete in the NCAA Tournament or the NIT.

Furthermore, Stonehill, which is in its first D1 season, will not be competing in the NEC Tournament at all. Nonetheless, Merrimack will attempt to hang another banner before being eligible for the NCAA Tournament, while the rest of the league will be looking to upset the top dog and punch their ticket to the big dance.

2023 NEC Awards

Player of the Year: Josh Cohen, St. Francis PA

Freshman of the Year: Landon Moore, St. Francis PA

Transfer of the Year: Demetre Roberts, Fairleigh Dickinson

Coach of the Year: Chris Kraus, Stonehill

First Team:

  • G: Demetre Roberts, Fairleigh Dickinson (16.8 PPG, 4.1 APG, 3.1 RPG, 1.2 SPG)
  • G: Grant Singleton, Fairleigh Dickinson (14.6 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 3.4 APG, 2.0 SPG, 39.0 3P%)
  • F: Nico Galette, Sacred Heart (15.5 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 1.8 APG, 1.7 SPG)
  • F: Josh Cohen, St. Francis PA (22.0 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 2.5 APG, 59.1 FG%)
  • F: Jordan Minor, Merrimack (17.4 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 2.3 APG, 2.4 BPG, 1.2 SPG)

Second Team:

  • G: DeLonnie Hunt, Wagner (11.3 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 2.8 APG)
  • G: Kellen Amos, CCSU (14.1 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 1.4 APG)
  • G: Isaiah Burnett, Stonehill (12.2 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 2.7 APG, 2.8 SPG)
  • F: Andrew Sims, Stonehill (15.2 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 1.7 APG)
  • F: Ziggy Reid, Merrimack (13.3 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 1.3 APG, 1.2 SPG)

NEC Tournament Simulation

*Note* The NEC reseeds after each round of the tournament so that the highest seed remaining is playing the lowest seed remaining, the second highest seed is playing the second lowest seed, etc.

Quarterfinals – Wednesday, Mar. 1

1. Merrimack (15-16, 12-4) vs. 8. LIU (3-25, 1-15) – 7 p.m. on ESPN3

The league’s regular season champ starts the NEC Tournament against three-win LIU at home. Merrimack won both previous matchups by double-digits, including their last game of the regular season, which was a 21-point victory on the road. This one should not be close.

Sam’s pick: 1. Merrimack

2. Fairleigh Dickinson (17-14, 10-6) vs. 7. St. Francis Brooklyn (14-15, 7-9) – 7 p.m. on ESPN3

Like the matchup above, these two teams ended their regular seasons against each other. FDU was victorious in both contests, blowing out St. Francis BK twice. This game should prove the same, as the Knights average over 10 more points per game than the Terriers.

Sam’s pick: 2. FDU

3. St. Francis PA (12-17, 9-7) vs. 6. CCSU (10-21, 7-9) – 7 p.m. on ESPN3

Josh Cohen is the focus of this contest, leading the league in scoring and winning the conference’s Player of the Year award. Cohen struggled in the first matchup between these two teams, but St. Francis PA got the win. However, later in the year, CCSU prevailed at home despite Cohen dropping 22. The Red Flash are playing for revenge, and Josh Cohen is due for a big game.

Sam’s pick: 3. St. Francis PA

4. Sacred Heart (15-16, 8-8) vs. 5. Wagner (15-12, 8-8) – 7 p.m. on ESPN3

Wagner and Sacred Heart split the season series, each team winning at home. Wagner has a very balanced attack, while Sacred Heart does not get much bench scoring at all. The difference in this game will be turnovers and free throws, both of which Wagner does at a slightly better rate. The Seahawks squeak out a road win.

Sam’s pick: 5. Wagner

Semifinals – Saturday, Mar. 4

1. Merrimack vs. 5. Wagner – 6 p.m. on ESPN3

These two teams split the regular season series, except each team won on the road. Merrimack hosts this game, but Wagner is no stranger to winning there. However, two road victories against the same team are difficult enough. Not to mention, Ziggy Reid and Jordan Minor scored below their season average in their loss in January. Merrimack will bounce back.

Sam’s pick: 1. Merrimack

2. Fairleigh Dickinson vs. 3. St. Francis PA – 6 p.m. on ESPN3

Well, with the NCAA transitional rule, if Merrimack wins the other semifinal game, the winner of this contest punches their ticket to the Big Dance. Plenty to play for, if you ask me. Josh Cohen averaged 28.5 points in the season split between the two teams, including a 31-point explosion in the Red Flash’s home win. FDU had the advantage at home, but defending the Player of the Year in the postseason is another challenge in itself.

Sam’s pick: 3. St. Francis PA

Championship – Tuesday, Mar. 7

1. Merrimack vs. 3. St. Francis PA – 7 p.m. on ESPN3

The league’s best team against the league’s best player. What more could one ask for? Maybe a trip to the NCAA Tournament on the line, but, unfortunately for Merrimack, there is none. However, the Warriors have much to play for, and St. Francis does not want to go into the NCAA Tournament on a loss. Merrimack won both the regular season matchups, and at home, the Warriors kept Cohen quiet. In a championship setting, the Player of the Year will play up to his abilities. Merrimack won at home by just four, and Cohen will lift the Red Flash to avoid the season sweep and punch their ticket the right way.

Sam’s pick: 3. St. Francis PA

By Samuel Bass

Writing sports, college basketball, ACC hoops

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