2019 NEC Tournament Betting Odds, Preview: Finding the Right Sleeper
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Long Island guard Raiquan Clark
- The eight-team NEC tournament will tip off on Wednesday, March 6 with four first round games on NEC Front Row.
- No. 1 seed and tourney favorite St. Francis U (+120) has home-court advantage, but this is one of the most wide-open fields in 2019.
- I wouldn't be shocked if any of the top six seeds won the title, which likely means we can find some sleeper value in the futures market.
The top eight seeds will compete in the Northeast Conference Tournament that uniquely reseeds after the top four seeds host the quarterfinals. No. 8 seed Bryant cannot get a home game, but No. 7 seed Long Island technically could host the championship.
Fairleigh Dickinson and St. Francis U tied for first at 12-6 in the conference and each won on the other’s home court in as season split, but St. Francis won the tiebreaker for the No. 1 seed.
As we talked about on the latest episode of our podcast, this is a wide-open conference. Just take a look at KenPom’s ratings, which have the top six seeds separated by just 3.5 Adjusted Efficiency Margin points. I believe the guard-dominated NEC has one of the highest chances of a surprise tourney champ.
Let’s take a closer look at the bracket and try to pick out the right sleeper.
2019 Northeast Tournament Odds, Format
- Who: Top 8 Northeast seeds (Mount St. Mary’s and CCSU didn’t qualify)
- Format: Single elimination (no byes)
- When: March 6, 9, 12
- Where: Campus sites (higher seed hosts)
- How to Watch: NEC Front Row, ESPN3, ESPN2
- Defending Champion: Long Island
Who Should Win?
No. 1 seed Saint Francis U. (+120) leads the league in two important statistics — offensive rebounding percentage and fewest turnovers per 100 possessions. However, the Red Flash sputtered down the stretch, losing two of their final three. They will be one of the most vulnerable top seeds in any conference tourney this season.
St. Francis is a deserved tourney favorite with its experienced roster and home-court advantage, but it has an extremely suspect defense that ranks 325th in Adjusted Efficiency and 329th in 2P%. The Red Flash must even be careful in the first round against a No. 8 seed Bryant squad that it split with during the regular season.
St. Francis (PA) hasn’t made the NCAA Tournament since 1991, while No. 5 seed St. Francis (Brooklyn) is one of only four original Division I teams to never make the tourney (Citadel, William & Mary, Army).
No. 2 seed Fairleigh Dickinson (+220) comes in as the league’s hottest team. It leads the conference in true shooting percentage and shoots 40% from deep (top 5 nationally) Their top six in the rotation are all capable shooters from the perimeter. That said, FDU’s struggles on the defensive glass could ultimately cost the Knights on an off-shooting night.
With not much separating the co-regular season champions from the rest of the field, the NEC presents a perfect opportunity to take a futures long shot. One in particular sticks out to me.