Lose four, win five, lose six, win three. The roller coaster year which has been the LIU Brooklyn men’s basketball season continues. Of course, you would figure the streakiness would enter into conference play with the Blackbirds losing their first three (of course, the two-game suspensions didn’t help their cause) and now have won their last three.
Some people who were hoping to write-off LIU Brooklyn will quickly says they have beaten three 2-4 teams. True. Yet, the record of the teams they have lost to thus far is just 9-9 with their best players missing two of those games. Parity is in full effect this season in the NEC with just one team right now running away with things (Bryant at 6-0) and one team sinking towards the bottom (St. Francis (PA) at 1-5). Ten teams right now separate second-place to eleventh-place by just two games. LIU right now are in that mix at 3-3, tied for fifth with Wagner and Central Connecticut State although Wagner has the advantage over LIU right now thanks to their win against the Blackbirds.
The next three weeks are going to really decide in what direction LIU Brooklyn is going to go with their season. Here is LIU’s next six games (home games in BOLD): St. Francis Brooklyn, Bryant, St. Francis (PA), Robert Morris, Central Connecticut State, St. Francis Brooklyn. That is a combined opponent record of 22-14 in NEC games. This will be LIU’s toughest stretch of conference games this season. These next six games will prove to be make or break time for this team.
It starts out with a bang with two huge road games. It is no secret, LIU Brooklyn has had their struggles on the road this season. So far they have gone just 2-7 away from home although they did win their last road game at FDU last Thursday. First up, it is the annual “Battle of Brooklyn” game against St. Francis Brooklyn. A game which has traditionally been a close game between the two teams no matter the location or the teams’ records. LIU has won the last three of four “Battle of Brooklyn” games but the last three of these games have been decided by four points or less. This game won’t be an exception in all likelihood.
LIU Brooklyn then faces Bryant who is currently still perfect in NEC play. Bryant has just lost once at home all season and that was just a two-point loss to Yale back in early December. Bryant has emerge from seemingly nowhere to lead the pack in the NEC this season. LIU only plays Bryant once this season so that fact makes this a really big game. According to John Templon on his blog Big Apple Buckets in his latest NEC tempo-free post, Bryant is considered the “luckiest team” in the NEC (don’t get me started on that). No matter how “lucky” they are, Bryant is really good and quite dangerous especially offensively.
LIU Brooklyn then returns home to face St. Francis (PA) before taking on NEC-nemesis Robert Morris in a national-televised game on ESPNU. RMU is now on a four-game winning streak after unexpectedly dropping their first two NEC games at home. This is a big game because it is their only meeting of the season against one another. RMU won at home last season in their only regular-season meeting which stopped an LIU nine-game winning streak at the time. There is no love lost whenever these two teams square off.
CCSU will be a tough test for LIU Brooklyn on the road as they have a couple of lethal offensive weapons who can put a ton of points if LIU let them run wild in NEC-leading scorer Kyle Vinales and Matt Hunter. Finally, LIU takes on SFC once again but this time at the Barclays Center for an LIU home game but it should be a bipartisan crowd on hand for the big game at the new Brooklyn arena.
How LIU Brooklyn fares after these next six games will ultimately show in what direction their season will go. If LIU wants at least one home game in the NEC tournament in March, they can’t afford to lose more than two of these next six. The Blackbirds can’t have anymore losing weeks it they planning on getting back to the upper half of the NEC standings. The pressure is on and it begins this week.