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Our favorites, sleepers, and dark horses in the 2020 Northeast Conference basketball tournament

The best team in the NEC can’t play in the postseason tournament, which makes the field much more open

Keith Braxton of the Saint Francis Red Flash celebrates after making a 3-point shot during the game against the Florida State Seminoles at the Donald L. Tucker Center on November 23, 2019 in Tallahassee, Florida. The Seminoles defeated the Red Flash 80-65. Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

The NCAA Tournament is a few weeks away, which means it’s conference tournament time to set the table for March Madness. We’ll be taking a look at some of the best teams in each conference, and providing picks and predictions each conference tournament. Plenty of favorites will win, but we’ve got some sleepers to consider that might be able to pull off a big upset on the way to the NCAA Tournament.

Here’s the bracket for the Northeast Conference Tournament with TV listings, dates and times.

Due to the NCAA’s archaic reclassification rules, Merrimack is leading the NEC, and won’t be able to participate in the conference tournament. This is the first year in Division I and in the conference for the Warriors, which means they’re forced to sit on the sidelines during postseason play until 2023. It’s really stupid for a team that has earned a regular season championship to not be able to go further, but here we are. As for the rest of the NEC...

Favorite: St. Francis (PA)

The Red Flash are 12-4 in the league, are 4-0 against the two teams that will be No. 2 and No. 3 in the conference tournament in Robert Morris and Sacred Heart, and shoot 37.4% from three-point range. They also only played Merrimack once instead of twice, and that extra half game will be very helpful come NEC seeding time.

Sleeper: Sacred Heart

Hung with Merrimack twice, and rebounds really well off the offensive glass. Which is tough to do when E.J. Anosike at 6’6 is their tallest starter. He’s also their most efficient scorer at 54% from the field.

Dark Horse: Mount St. Mary’s

This isn’t Jim Phelan’s Mountaineers anymore, but they play with about as much pace, as they’re bottom 10 in the NCAA in adjusted tempo. A big win over Merrimack last week delayed the conference title for the Warriors, and they might be getting back on track at the right time; they had lost five in a row before that, but are still 7-9 in the NEC and can defend well.