by Patrick Gustavson
The penultimate week of the Northeast Conference regular season has come and gone, and things are as intense as ever with the conference tournament looming.
One thing that’s (almost) certain is the teams that will be participating in the tournament. Seven teams have clinched their respective spot, leaving just one more spot up for grabs.
Wagner, who has had their spot clinched for a few weeks, has claimed the number one seed, guaranteeing them home-court advantage, should they advance. This bodes well for the Seahawks, who have still yet to lose at home on the season. This makes them the favorite to make the NCAA tournament.
Behind Wagner is a three-way tie for second place between Saint Francis (PA), Mount St. Mary’s and Saint Francis (BK). All three teams took care of business this past weekend, improving to 10-6 in conference play.
None of the three teams play this weekend, so it very well could come down to a tie-breaker. Should they remain tied, it will come down to winning percentage against the other two teams. If that is the case, Mount St. Mary’s would get the two seed (3-1 versus SFU and SFBK), SFU would get the three (2-2) and SFBK would get the four (1-3).
Robert Morris, who once sat at 7-2, has lost five of their last seven games, now sitting on the outside of a home playoff game. After soundly defeating Bryant at home, the Colonials were upset by Central Connecticut at home on Saturday, dropping them out of the aforementioned tie.
Fairleigh Dickinson continued their hot streak, defeating Mount St. Mary’s before falling to SFBK. The Knights are now at 8-8, after being on the fringe of the tournament. They face the difficult task of playing SFU on Thursday, before taking on Bryant on Saturday. Should they win out, they would be at 10-8 and possibly in a position for a home game.
On the contrary, LIU Brooklyn has the longest current losing streak in the conference, with three straight losses. Despite the losses, the Blackbirds have had strong showings, losing to SFBK by just five, and nearly beating Wagner on their court, falling by just four points.
Should the Knights and Blackbirds remain tied, the tie-breaker would go to the Blackbirds. However, in this instance, there is likely a lot to change.
The last six games have seen Central Connecticut in a freefall, putting their chances at reaching the tournament in serious jeopardy. However, the Blue Devils marched into Robert Morris on Saturday and upset the Colonials, leaving them just one win (or Sacred Heart loss) away from making the tournament for the first time in four years.
As for Sacred Heart, they would have to win both games against Bryant and LIU Brooklyn, and have CCSU lose both of their remaining games against SFBK and Wagner.
Should the two end the year tied, the edge would go to the Pioneers, who swept the Blue Devils.
As for Bryant, they have been eliminated from contention. A tough season for the Bulldogs continued when they were beaten down by at least 20 points against Robert Morris and SFU.
Though most of the field is filled, there is plenty of moving and shaking to be done in the last two games, leading up to what will surely be an excitement-filled conference tournament.