The New Year Can Only Mean One Thing… #NECOpeningNight

In the college basketball world, the New Year brings a chance for renewal.  

During the months of November and December teams are busy contesting tip-off tournaments, holiday classics and stand-alone games against non-conference opponents.  When January arrives, the focus switches to the conference play portion of the schedule.

The NEC will tip off its 32nd season of men’s basketball league play on Thursday, January 3.

All 12 Northeast Conference teams will take the floor on #NECOpeningNight sporting clean slates.  Regardless of what transpired over the previous eight weeks, everyone appears in the league standings with a 0-0 record.

While teams like Robert Morris will attempt to build on its non-conference success and carry momentum into the NEC season, others will have the chance for a fresh start.

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Follow #NECOpeningNight Live on the Web
Thursday night’s docket features six Northeast Conference matchups, and five of them will air live on NEC Front Row (www.necfrontrow.com).  As always, fans can view the webcasts FREE OF CHARGE!

Debating whether to watch St. Francis Brooklyn vs. Quinnipiac or Fairleigh Dickinson vs. Mount St. Mary’s? STOP RIGHT THERE! 

With NEC Front Row’s multi-game viewer, you can watch up to SIX games at once! So log onto www.necfrontrow.com a little before 7:00 pm EST on Thursday night, click on the “multi-game viewer” link in the upper-lefthand corner of the web page and enjoy a night full of NEC hoops … FOR FREE!

Thursday night will also mark the debut of NEC Front Row’s newest fan-friendly feature – The Control Room. Whereas the multi-game viewer requires fans to individually select each of the games they want to see, The Control Room allows fans to automatically see the live video feed(s) from ever Front Row event airing at that time.  Once in The Control Room, fans can then choose which of the video feeds they would like to add an audio component.

Oh, and feel like tweeting about what you’ll be watching? NEC Front Row has got you covered! The Front Row game viewer features a number of built-in social media widgets, which allow you to tweet, view Instagram photos and much more all while watching your favorite NEC team.

 

What You Need to Know about #NECOpeningNight

Just the Facts

– Eight of last 10 NEC champions swept the first weekend of NEC play

– Robert Morris (4-0), Wagner (3-0) and Mount St. Mary’s (3-0) are all unbeaten at home this season.  All three host games tonight.

– CCSU has won four straight NEC openers and is 8-2 in its last 10 NEC openers, best in league.

– Monmouth has caused most turnovers per game in nation (21.2)

Running Down the Docket

Bryant (7-4) at Robert Morris (8-5)
Location:  Moon Township, PA (Sewall Center)
Time:  7:00 pm
Watch Live: Click Here (Game is Not on Front Row due to contractual obligation)

A perennial power hosts the new kids on the block in a game that features two teams with impressive non-conference resumes.  After winning a program-record 26 games last year, Robert Morris picked up another eight victories during the out-of-conference portion of its 2012-13 schedule. The Colonials picked up wins over Ohio (a Sweet 16 team last March), Steel City rival Duquesne and Horizon League member Cleveland State.  They suffered road losses at Xavier and Arkansas by a combined seven points.  Meanwhile, it all seems to be coming together for Bryant in what is the Bulldogs’ first year as a postseason-eligible NCAA Division I member.  After taking its lumps during the reclassification process, Tim O’Shea’s Bulldogs have hit the ground running this season. Their seven-win non-conference showing includes triumphs over ACC member Boston College and defending Patriot League champ Lehigh.

Monmouth (5-8) at Wagner (6-5)
Location: Staten Island, NY (Spiro Center)
Time: 7:00 pm
Watch Live: Click Here

These Outer Bridge rivals go at it in Game No. 1. Monmouth started strong, but enters league play having lost its last five contests.  The Hawks haven’t won a NEC opener in any of the last six seasons, and if King Rice’s troops are to snap that slide come Thursday night, they’ll have to do it against the NEC’s top-ranked defense.  In its first year under the defensive-minded Bashir Mason, Wagner is limiting opponents to a league-low 60.8 points per contest.  The Seahawks have won four of their last five heading into #NECOpeningNight, including a win over Penn and a triumph over Larry Brown’s Southern Methodist team at the Cable Car Classic.

St. Francis Brooklyn (4-7) at Quinnipiac (4-7)
Location: Hamden, CT (TD Bank Center)
Time: 7:00 pm
Watch Live: Click Here

It’s a rematch of last year’s NEC quarterfinal round contest. The Terriers, who will be on the road for this one, are hoping for a different outcome this time around.  The good news for Glenn Braica’s squad is that Quinnipiac no longer has the services of guard James Johnson, who poured in 22 points during the Bobacts’ 80-72 playoff win last March.  It’s been a bit of a roller coaster ride for St. Francis Brooklyn early on.  After a 2-2 start, the Terriers dropped five in a row before rebounding with back-to-back victories sandwiched around Christmas.  Quinnipiac is 2-6 since beating Iona in the Paradise Jam on Nov. 16, but their frontcourt, which features preseason all-NEC selection Ike Azotam, can create headaches for opposing defenses.  The lone rebounder ahead of Azotam (9.3 rpg) on the league leader board this season is St. Francis sophomore Jalen Cannon (9.5 rpg).

Central Connecticut (4-7) at Saint Francis (PA) (0-11)
Location: Loretto, PA
Time: 7:00 pm
Watch Live:  Click Here

This game features the top-two leading scorers in the NEC, but both of them will be wearing blue.  Central Connecticut’s dynamic backcourt tandem – Kyle Vinales (20.7 ppg) and Matt Hunter (18.9 ppg) – has to scare any opposing coach.  Still, the Blue Devils have been anything but invincible this season. They picked up a nice non-conference win over La Salle, but enter league play on a four-game slide.  Meanwhile, Saint Francis is still trying to find its footing under first-year head coach Rob Krimmel.  Red Flash guard Umar Shannon (14.0 ppg) will contest his first NEC game since the 2010-11 season after losing last year to injury.

Fairleigh Dickinson (5-7) at Mount St. Mary’s (5-6)
Location: Emmitsburg, MD
Time: 7:00 pm
Watch Live: Click Here

These two teams were picked to finish in the bottom third of the league standings, but after two months of game results, both appear to be playoff contenders.  Despite only playing two home games thus far, FDU has five wins to its credit.  One of the reasons for the vast improvement over last year’s non-conference performance is the fact that Greg Vetrone’s Knights can shoot the ball with the best of them.  FDU leads the NEC in field goal percentage and three-point field goal percentage.  Meanwhile, the Mount’s success stems from the “mayhem” that Jamion Christian’s team attempts to create on defense.  The team’s high-powered pressure has forced opponents into an average of 18 turnovers per game.

LIU Brooklyn (5-7) at Sacred Heart (2-9)
Location: Fairfield, CT
Time: 7:00 pm
Watch Live: Click Here

The defending NEC champion Blackbirds tip off the 2012-13 season against the same team they faced in the 2012 NEC Tournament quarterfinal round.   Looking to start another championship run against Sacred Heart, LIU Brooklyn will have to do so without reigning NEC Player of the Year Julian Boyd who has been lost for the season due to injury.  The Blackbirds won five straight games, including a 27-point thumping of MAAC contender Manhattan, from Nov. 28 through Dec. 16, but have dropped its last three contests since mid-December.  After picking up early-season wins over Yale and Stony Brook, Sacred Heart has encountered its longest losing streak – 7 straight – in the last five years. The NEC opener is the perfect opportunity for the Pioneers to break back into the win column. They have won five of their last six NEC lid-lifters.

 

Is your NEC hoops appetite still not satiated? Then check out the NEC Tip-off Magazine below.  Fans can pick up a printed copy of the book at their favorite team’s conference home opener.

Sneak Peek at NEC Tip-off Magazine

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