On Monday, the 2014-15 LIU Brooklyn men’s basketball schedule was officially released and I broke down their non-conference schedule team by team. Today, I will take a glance at LIU Brooklyn’s Northeast Conference schedule and see which are the games to look forward to, which are the games that could cause the Blackbirds some problems and which ones they will likely need to win if they plan on returning back to the NEC tournament after missing out last season.
It all starts opening week which this season consist of four games instead of the usually two with New Year’s Day falling on a Thursday this season. The Blackbirds start the conference season with a season-high three-game homestand, the first of which is on Saturday, January 3rd versus Bryant. Last season, LIU closed the season with Bryant at home, this season they will open the conference season with the Bulldogs. LIU was swept last season in both meetings against Bryant after winning seven of their first eight meetings including six straight. This should be a good first game for LIU to see what this young LIU is all about and how they will compete in the NEC.
After their conference opener against Bryant, LIU hosts FDU at the Steinberg Wellness Center. LIU lost the only meeting between the two teams last season at home by 22. The loss snapped a LIU 11-game winning streak in the series. It was a pretty ugly loss as LIU were throughly handled at home. LIU caps their three-game homestand against Sacred Heart. LIU beat the Pioneers last season on the road in their only meeting. LIU has won the last two games in this series and have won seven of the last eight meetings overall.
The Blackbirds then hits the road for three of the next four games. A meeting with Wagner at the Spiro Sports Center in Staten Island closes the first week of NEC action as every NEC team will end up playing four conference games in eight days. Wagner swept LIU in their two games last season. Wagner has won four of the last five meetings in the last two seasons. After Wagner game, the NEC schedule returns to the normal Thursday/Saturday schedule.
On Thursday, January 15th, LIU heads to Central Connecticut State. The Blackbirds had won six straight games in the series until LIU lost a heartbreaking 86-82 overtime game at the Steinberg Wellness Center to end LIU’s chances of defending their three-straight NEC championships. After the CCSU game, LIU returns back to Brooklyn to play defending NEC tournament champions Mount St. Mary’s. This game though will be at the Barclays Center. This will be the second time in three years in which LIU has played the Mount at the Barclays Center. LIU won that first meeting 86-72 back in 2013. The teams split the two meetings last season. LIU has won eight of the last ten meetings between the teams.
The following week, LIU returns back on the road for a pair of games. On Thursday, January 22nd, they play their second game of the season against Bryant and then head to FDU for the second meeting. LIU then return home to the Steinberg Wellness Center for a home game versus CCSU. Then they head across Fulton Street to Brooklyn Heights to take on St. Francis Brooklyn for their 40th annual Battle of Brooklyn game. Last season, LIU won the Battle of Brooklyn for the fourth consecutive time. This would be the 101st meeting between the two teams, the most meetings between any LIU opponent. LIU had a six-game winning streak in the series snapped in their first meeting last season.
The month of February begins with NEC perennial powerhouse Robert Morris returning to the Steinberg Wellness Center on February 5th . LIU has lost three straight to the Colonials including their last two home games. Two days later, Saint Francis PA comes to visit Downtown Brooklyn for a late afternoon affair. SFU swept a pair of games from LIU last season snapping what was previously an LIU three-game winning streak in the series. LIU has not lost three in a row to the Red Flash since the 2003 through 2005 seasons. The following week, LIU heads to western Pennsylvania to play these same two teams on the road.
On February 19th, LIU heads to Mount St. Mary’s to wrap us a three-game road swing which will be LIU’s longest and toughest road trip of conference play with three teams that may all finish in the top four of the NEC standings, before returning back to Brooklyn for their final two regular season home games, both against city rivals, the first of which is against Wagner. Then it is a home game against St. Francis Brooklyn. This game returns back to the SWC after being held at the Barclays Center last season and I, for one, am happy to see this game return back on campus. LIU has won four straight home games against the Terriers.
LIU concludes the season with a road matchup against Sacred Heart on the final day of February. LIU has won five straight home games versus the Pioneers.
LIU will need to get off to a good start to conference play with three home games to begin the campaign. After that, things get tricky with four of five on the road against what could be upper tier teams in the NEC. Then what comes is what I feel is the meat grinder of LIU’s schedule: vs CCSU, at St. Francis Brooklyn, vs Robert Morris, vs Saint Francis PA, at Robert Morris, at Saint Francis PA and at Mount St. Mary’s. This seven-game stretch will be the make or break part of their season. If LIU comes out these seven games in good shape, they should no doubt be a playoff team and quite possible a sleeper going into the NEC tournament. If they come out of it with a bunch of L’s, they are once again going to be fighting for that final playoff spot in the NEC.
The NEC game I’m most looking forward to is the January 15th road game at Central Connecticut. That game will prove to me how legit this team will be in conference play this season. Also, the return of St. Francis Brooklyn to the Steinberg Wellness Center should be a fun one as well along with the Battle of Brooklyn game at the Pope Center. These are always fun games no matter how good or bad each team is.
|1/3/2015||BRYANT||Steinberg Wellness Center||4:30 p.m.|
|1/5/2015||FAIRLEIGH DICKINSON||Steinberg Wellness Center||7:30 p.m.|
|1/8/2015||SACRED HEART||Steinberg Wellness Center||7:00 p.m.|
|1/10/2015||at Wagner||Staten Island, N.Y.||4:00 p.m.|
|1/15/2015||at Central Connecticut||New Britain, Conn.||7:00 p.m.|
|1/17/2015||MOUNT ST. MARY’S||Barclays Center||1:30 p.m.|
|1/22/2015||at Bryant||Smithfield, R.I.||7:00 p.m.|
|1/24/2015||at Fairleigh Dickinson||Teaneck, N.J.||4:30 p.m.|
|1/29/2015||CENTRAL CONNECTICUT||Steinberg Wellness Center||7:00 p.m.|
|1/31/2015||at St. Francis Brooklyn||Brooklyn Heights, N.Y.||4:00 p.m.|
|2/5/2015||ROBERT MORRIS||Steinberg Wellness Center||7:00 p.m.|
|2/7/2015||SAINT FRANCIS U.||Steinberg Wellness Center||4:30 p.m.|
|2/12/2015||at Robert Morris||Moon Township, Pa.||7:00 p.m.|
|2/14/2015||at Saint Francis U.||Loretto, Pa.||1:00 p.m.|
|2/19/2015||at Mount St. Mary’s||Emmitsburg, Md.||7:00 p.m.|
|2/21/2015||WAGNER||Steinberg Wellness Center||4:30 p.m.|
|2/26/2015||ST. FRANCIS BROOKLYN||Steinberg Wellness Center||7:00 p.m.|
|2/28/2015||at Sacred Heart||Fairfield, Conn.||3:30 p.m.|