Robert Morris (21-10, 15-3 NEC) captured its second straight regular season title and eighth in program history, finishing three games ahead of Mount St. Mary's, Sacred Heart and Long Island. The Colonials, who finished the year 11-2 at home and recently had a league-record 15-game road win streak against conference opponents snapped, will now take up residence in the Sewall Center for as long as they remain alive in the NEC Tournament.
The Colonials are 31-5 in NEC play and 46-18 overall the last two seasons under Mike Rice. Robert Morris has won a league record five NEC Tournament championships, all between 1982 and 1992.
The Colonials will host #8 St. Francis (NY) (10-19, 7-11 NEC) in Thursday's quarterfinal round in Moon Township, PA. The Terriers return to the postseason following a one-year absence and have the distinction of being the only NEC team to defeat the Colonials in the Sewall Center this season with an 87-79 victory on December 4. In search of its first conference title, St. Francis (NY) has hopes of becoming the first #8 seed to knock off the top seed in NEC tournament history. The two schools have faced off three times in NEC Tournament play with the Terriers holding a 2-1 edge.
2008-09 meetings: SFNY 87, RMU 79 (12/4 at RMU), RMU 61, SFNY 54 (2/5 at SFNY)
Mount St. Mary's (17-12, 12-6 NEC) locked up the #2 seed on Saturday and will entertain #7 Wagner (16-13, 8-10 NEC) at Knott Arena on Thursday. The defending champion Mountaineers finished in a three-way tie for second place and will attempt to become the first NEC team to repeat since Rider turned the trick way back in 1993-94. Wagner enters the postseason riding a wave of momentum having clinched the final NEC playoff spot on Saturday with a 91-60 road conquest of Monmouth. In an all-or-nothing game, senior guard Joey Mundweiler (Olathe, KS/Olathe East) established a new conference record with 11 three-pointers as part of a career-high 39-point performance. The Seahawks, who have won four straight and six of their last seven games, won their lone NEC championship in 2003. Mount St. Mary's has collected three league titles in 1995, 1999 and 2008. The two teams have met just once in NEC Tournament play, a 65-48 semifinal win for the Seahawks in 1993.
2008-09 meetings: MSM 65, WC 51 (1/31 at MSM), WC 70, MSM 65 (2/19 at WC)
After ending the regular season in a three-way tie for second place, Sacred Heart (16-13, 12-6 NEC) will be the tourney's #3 seed and entertain #6 seed Central Connecticut State (13-16, 8-10 NEC) in the quarterfinals for the second straight season. Dating back to the 2006 season, it will mark the fourth straight year the two Constitution State rivals will face each other in the postseason and fifth time since 2002 (the Blue Devils are 4-1 in the series). The Pioneers, who swept CCSU this season and enter the playoffs red hot, having won five straight games by an average margin of 20.8 points, reached the NEC title game in each of the last two years and will be looking for their first conference title. The Blue Devils have captured the league crown three times (2000, 2002 and 2007) since joining the league in 1997.
2008-09 meetings: SHU 77, CCSU 69 (1/31 at SHU), SHU 101, CCSU 67 (2/19 at CCSU)
Finishing in a three-way tie for second place, Long Island (16-13, 12-6 NEC) earned the #4 seed and will host its first NEC Tournament game since 2005. The Blackbirds are a league best 12-2 at home this season at the Wellness, Recreations and Athletic Center, but one of the two losses came to Quinnipiac (14-15, 10-8 NEC), which claimed the #5 seed with a 69-55 win over CCSU on Saturday. It will be the first-ever postseason meeting between the two programs. The Bobcats, who swept the season series from the Blackbirds, are seeking their first NEC championship, while the Blackbirds are two-time winners of the title (1984, 1997).
2008-09 meetings: QU 69, LIU 63 (1/31 at QU), QU 78, LIU 73 (2/21 at LIU)
The 28th Annual NEC Basketball Tournament will consist of an eight-team playoff format with all games played at the home of the higher seed. After the quarterfinals, the teams will be reseeded so the highest remaining seed plays the lowest remaining seed in the semifinals.
NEC Men's Tournament quarterfinal play commences on Thursday, March 5, followed by the semifinal round on Sunday, March 8. The championship game, to be televised by ESPN2, will be contested on Wednesday, March 11 at 8:00 pm.
The NEC's return to a playoff format in 2005 came after an eight-year absence that saw the league's annual postseason tournament contested at one campus site (1999), at a municipal arena (2000-01) and at a single campus site for the quarterfinals and semifinals, followed by the highest remaining seed hosting the championship game (1998, 2002-04). The conference had previously employed a high-seed hosting format from 1991-97, though teams were not reseeded after the quarterfinals as the tournament is currently constructed.
Thursday, March 5
#8 St. Francis (NY) at #1 Robert Morris, 7:00 pm
#7 Wagner at #2 Mount St. Mary's, 7:00 pm
#6 Central Connecticut State at #3 Sacred Heart, 7:00 pm
#5 Quinnipiac at #4 Long Island, 7:00 pm
Sunday, March 8
Lowest Remaining Seed at Highest Remaining Seed, Time TBA
3rd Highest Remaining Seed at 2nd Highest Remaining Seed, Time TBA
Wednesday, March 11
8:00 pm on ESPN2