Northeast Conference Tournament 2013 schedule and bracket

Wesley Hitt

After losing in the conference championship game two years running, Robert Morris will try to make it to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2010. They start off their tourney Wednesday night against St. Francis. All games are at home sites.

7 p.m.: No. 8 St. Francis (NY) (12-17, 8-10, Kenpom ranking 218) at No. 1 Robert Morris (22-9, 14-4, Kenpom ranking 130), Sewall Center, Pittsburgh, Penn.

The Colonials only dropped four conference games this year, good for the top seed and their first regular-season title since 2010 — which is also the last time they went to the dance. However, one of those defeats was a 71-61 loss to the Terriers back in January. That game was in Brooklyn, however, and this one will be on Robert Morris' home floor. Velton Jones has a 44.9 assist rating, the third-best figure in the country, and between Coron Williams, Karvel Anderson, and Lucky Jones, the Colonials have three guys who shoot 40 percent from deep. (Yes, one is named after an ice-cream store and one is named "Lucky".) Their 38.5 percent shooting from three-point range as a team is good for No. 20 in the nation, and they shoot it a lot from there — over 22 shots a game from beyond the arc.

Read More: Full NEC bracket | SB Nation's full March Madness coverage

7 p.m.: No. 7 Central Connecticut St. (13-16, 9-9, Kenpom rating 243) at No. 2 Wagner (18-11, 12-6, Kenpom rating 185), Spiro Sports Center, Staten Island, N.Y.

Wagner had a bit of a knack for playing to the level of their opposition this year: seven times, the Seahawks ended up in overtime. Sometimes that was against decent teams like Princeton, and sometimes it was against awful teams like Coppin State. That showed in a pair of matchups against CCSU: at home, they crushed the Blue Devils, 101-82, despite 42 points on eight threes by Kyle Vinales. On the road, they "held" Vinales to 30 points, but Central Connecticut came away with the 73-66 win.

7 p.m.: No. 6 Quinnipiac (15-15, 11-7, Kenpom ranking 199) at No. 3 LIU-Brooklyn (17-13, 12-6, Kenpom ranking 202), Wellness Recreation and Athletic Center, Brooklyn, N.Y.

The Blackbirds are trying to earn back-to-back-to-back trips to the NCAA Tournament. They've already hit a bit of a snag — they were the regular-season champion in past seasons. This year, they got the third seed. They have the No. 21 EFG% in the nation, thanks in large part to 6'7 senior Jamal Olasewere, who averages 19.7 points a game. They're terrible at defense, though, at No. 324 in the nation per Ken Pomeroy's defensive efficiency numbers. That scouting report showed in their regular-season finale, as they won a 96-90 game in regulation behind 33 points and 10 rebounds from Olasewere. The good news for the Blackbirds is that game was also a home game against Quinnipiac. They'll be looking to rinse and repeat, although the Bobcats did beat Long Island in their first meeting of the season.

7 p.m.: No. 5 Mount St. Mary's (16-3, 11-7, Kenpom ranking 217) at No. 4 Bryant (19-10, 12-6, Kenpom ranking 174), Chace Athletic Center, Smithfield, R.I.

Discovery about the Northeast Conference: everybody is great at offense and awful at defense. Bryant also boasts an undersized bully in Alex Francis, who shot nearly 59 percent from inside the arc on over ten shots a game, and he's bested by Dyami Starks, who averages 17.7 points per game. The flaw? A defense that ranks 300th in the country. Meanwhile, the Mountaineers, led by Rashad Whack — yes, Whack — are literally dead last in the nation in EFG%. The season series between these two was exciting, with the Bulldogs winning 79-78 in overtime on a Shane McLaughlin winner at home. They did allow a 44-point scoring outburst by Sam Prescott — season average, 10.8 points — who drilled ten threes to set a school record.

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