2013 Northeast Conference Tournament Preview

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The Northeast Conference features six teams that have won 11 or more conference games. Safe to say, several teams have a shot at the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Robert Morris took the regular season title and the Colonials are looking for their third tourney title since 2009.

Robert Morris is atop the league, but LIU Brooklyn has been the best team in the NEC over the last two seasons. Robert Morris and LIU Brooklyn, for all their recent success, may not be dancing when it’s all said and done. Wagner and Bryant are two teams that have improved over the years and are ready to make a run at the NCAA tournament.

(CLICK HERE to browse through all of our conference tournament previews)

The Bracket

Where: Campus sites (higher seeds)

When: March 6, 9, 12

Final: March 12, 7:00 p.m. ET (ESPN2)

Favorite: Robert Morris

The Colonials were the best team in the NEC this year with a 14-4 conference record. Velton Jones leds a balanced scoring attack for the Colonials. The senior guard is averaging 11.3 points and more than five assists per game. Robert Morris dropped the first two conference games before rallying off six straight. The Colonials could make their way to the tournament behind their shooting from behind the arc, shooting 39 percent as a team on the season.

And if they lose?: Good chance this happens in the semifinals. Robert Morris has a potential matchup with Bryant — having its best season since joining the Division I ranks. The Bulldogs and Colonials have split the season series by a total of nine points (Butler won by seven, Robert Morris won by two). Wagner also could be in the mix, falling to Robert Morris by only four and going 1-1 against Bryant this season.

Sleepers: Mount St. Mary’s is playing its best basketball heading into the tourney. The Mountaineers have won seven straight and nine of their last 10. Quinnipiac is the last team to take down top-seeded Robert Morris. LIU Brooklyn, winners of the last two NEC tournaments tied for second place in the NEC with Wagner and Bryant.

Studs:

Jamal Olasewere, LIU Brooklyn: The senior forward is the third leading scorer in the league with 19.2 per game while pulling down more than eight rebounds per game.

Velton Jones, Robert Morris: Experienced guard has led the Colonials to the top of the NEC. One of the NEC’s top floor generals knows what it takes to go dancing and has led the versatile Colonials’ offensive, leading the team with 5.2 assists and scoring 11.3 per night — good for third on the team.

Dyami Starks, Bryant: The redshirt sophomore averaging a team-high 17.7, barely ahead of Alex Francis (17.1). Bryant is on the rise and Starks, the transfer from Columbia, is a big reason why.

CBT Prediction: Top-seeded Robert Morris advances past No. 3 LIU Brooklyn.

Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

VIDEO: Jay-Z’s nephew posterizes nation’s No. 1 recruit Marvin Bagley III

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Nahziah Carter is an unsigned 6-foot-6 wing in the Class of 2017.

He’s also Jay-Z’s nephew, and he just so happened to posterize Marvin Bagley III — the clearcut No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2018 — while Hova was in the stands watching him.

NCAA denies extra-year request by NC State guard Henderson

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The NCAA has denied North Carolina State guard Terry Henderson’s request for another year of eligibility.

Henderson announced the decision Friday in a statement issued by the school.

The Raleigh native played two seasons at West Virginia before transferring to N.C. State and redshirting in 2014-15. He played for only 7 minutes of the following season before suffering a season-ending ankle injury.

As a redshirt senior in 2016-17, he was the team’s second-leading scorer at 13.8 points per game and made a team-best 78 3-pointers.

Henderson called it “an honor and privilege” to play in his hometown.

SMU gets transfer in Georgetown’s Akoy Agau

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SMU pulled in a frontcourt player in Georgetown transfer Akoy Agau, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. Agau is immediately eligible for next season as a graduate transfer.

The 6-foot-8 Agau started his career at Louisville before transferring to Georgetown after one season. Spending two seasons with the Hoyas, Agau was limited to 11 minutes in his first season due to injuries. He averaged 4.5 points and 4.3 rebounds per game last season.

Coming out of high school, Agau was a four-star prospect but he’s never lived up to that billing in-part because of injuries. Now, Agau gets one more chance to make a difference as he’s hoping to help replace some departed pieces like Ben Moore and Semi Ojeleye.

South Carolina loses big man Sedee Keita to transfer

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South Carolina big man Sedee Keita will transfer from the program, he announced on Friday.

The 6-foot-9 Keita was once regarded as a top-100 national prospect in the Class of 2016, but he never found consistent minutes with the Gamecocks for last season’s Final Four team.

Keita appeared in 29 games and averaged 1.1 points and 2.0 rebounds per game while shooting 27 percent from the field.

A native of Philadelphia, Keita will have to sit out next season before getting three more seasons of eligibility.

Although Keita failed to make an impact during his only season at South Carolina, he’ll be a coveted transfer thanks to his size and upside.

Mississippi State losing two to transfer

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Mississippi State will lose two players to transfer as freshmen Mario Kegler and Eli Wright are leaving the program.

Both Kegler and Wright were four-star prospects coming out of high school as they were apart of a six-man recruiting class that is supposed to be a major foundation for Ben Howland’s future with the Bulldogs.

The 6-foot-7 Kegler was Mississippi State’s third-leading scorer last season as he averaged 9.7 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. Kegler should command some quality schools on the transfer market, especially since he’ll still have three more years of eligibility after sitting out next season due to NCAA transfer regulations. Kegler’s loss is also notable for Mississippi State because it is the second consecutive offseason that Howland lost a top-100, in-state product to transfer after only one season after Malik Newman left for Kansas.

Wright, a 6-foot-4 guard, was never able to find consistent minutes as he was already behind underclass perimeter options like Quinndary Weatherspoon, Lamar Peters and Tyson Carter last season. With Nick Weatherspoon, Quinndary’s four-star brother, also joining the Bulldogs next season, the writing was likely on the wall that Wright wasn’t going to earn significant playing time.