The Long Island U. Blackbirds made the NCAA Tournament for the third time in the last 15 years, defeating the Robert Morris Colonials in the Northeast Conference Tournament championship game for an automatic bid. The Blackbirds went 9-6 in non-conference play, starting the year with three straight losses on the road. They picked up their play once the conference portion of their schedule began, going 16-2 against NEC opponents.
The Blackbirds were slated for a 16-seed, due in large part to their 245th-ranked RPI Strength of Schedule. As a result, you will be hard-pressed to find anyone predicting an upset over the No. 1 seed Michigan State Spartans in the second round. SB Nation's own Andrew Sharp and Bill Connelly both predict a swift exit for the Blackbirds. Still, LIU has a couple of tricks up its sleeve, namely a high-powered offense and solid rebounding.
Three players average double-digit scoring per game, led by Julian Boyd's 17.4 points. The Blackbirds rank third in the nation in averaging 81.9 points per game. Boyd also leads the team with 9.5 rebounds, helping LIU to 38.6 boards per game. It will be interesting to see how they match up with an equally physical Spartans squad.
For more NCAA Tournament coverage, be sure to check out our tournament stream, SB Nation's tournament hub and SB Nation New York. Also make sure to check out our NCAA Tournament Printable Bracket stream.