Games to watch involving the NEC this season

With LIU Brooklyn and Sacred Heart finally releasing their 2015-16 men’s basketball schedule late last week, now all ten Northeast Conference teams have officially released their schedules for the upcoming season. With that said, let’s see which games will be the non-conference games to watch involving NEC teams this season and which could be in-conference games to look out for this season.

Big Opening Weekend – All ten NEC teams will be start their seasons off opening weekend, eight of them tip off on opening night, November 13th. Some of the highlights games are:

Mount St. Mary’s @ Maryland – November 13 –  The Maryland Terrapins are a likely preseason Top 10 maybe even a Top 5 team coming into this season and Mount will make the short trip to the Comcast Center to start off their season.

Wagner @ St. John’s – November 13 – Wagner will make the trip from Staten Island to Jamaica, Queens to be the first opponent for the Red Storm in the Chris Mullin coaching era. There will be a lot of excitement for the Johnnies that night but they will feature practically a brand new team with only a few returnees. If Wagner plays well, it is not out of the realm for the them to pull off the big upset on night one.

Saint Francis U. @ Notre Dame – November 13 – SFU heads to South Bend to face the Irish on opening night. Although, this is great showcase game for the Red Flash, how long they can hang with the Notre Dame will be the question.

Robert Morris @ Penn – November 13 – The defending NEC champs open up their season at the famed Palestra in Philly. RMU head coach Andy Toole returns to his alma mater for the first time as RMU head coach. Toole was a candidate this offseason to become their head coach, making this first game a little more intriguing.

Bryant @ Duke – November 14, 8pm – ESPN3 – Bryant is walking into a difficult situation heading to Cameron Indoor to face the reigning national champs. One slight advantage Bryant has is that Duke will have actually played the night before. Yet, this IS Duke and there is no Dyami Starks bombing away threes here for the Bulldogs. The experience here is playing Duke at Duke.

Other non-conference games to watch for:

Robert Morris @ Cincinnati – November 15, 2pm – ESPN3 – A battle of two NCAA tournament teams from last season. The Bearcats were 23-11 last season so this is a nice early challenge for the Colonials.

Mount St. Mary’s @ Gonzaga – November 21 – The gauntlet of difficult early season road games for the Mount ends with a visit to the Kennel. The Zags have lost a total of just 11 home games in their last nine seasons. Also the Zags return a majority of their roster which finished 35-3 last season.

Bryant @ Georgetown – November 28, 12pm – FS2 – Bryant heads down to the nation’s capital to take on the Hoyas who come off a season in which they finished 22-11 and reached the round of 32 of the NCAA tournament.

Sacred Heart @ UConn – December 2, 7pm – SNY – A Nutmeg state battle involving the state’s top team in the Huskies. UConn no longer has Ryan Boatwright but they do have Omar Calhoun, Amida Brimah and newly added Sterling Gibbs from Seton Hall. This is going to be a tough one for the Pioneers.

LIU Brooklyn @ Fordham – December 8 – This NYC battle between Bronx and Brooklyn could be an interesting one. Fordham is in transition with first-year head coach in Jeff Neubauer while LIU brings in what could possibly be an upstart team to Rose Hill.

Robert Morris @ Columbia – December 14 – Some of you might be thinking what is this game doing on this list. Well, Columbia actually might be the Ivy League favorite this season. Yes, seriously. With returning seniors Alex Rosenberg and Maodo Lo who played for the German national team this summer, this game should be one of the most intriguing non-conference played inside NYC this season.

St. Francis Brooklyn @ Manhattan – December 14 – Another inter-NYC game is this one between the Terriers and Jaspers. Manhattan likely will be once favored to win the MAAC. This will be a good barometer game to see where St. Francis Brooklyn is as they start looking towards NEC play.

Bryant @ Michigan – December 23, 7pm – BTN – The Bulldogs visit Ann Arbor right before Christmas. Michigan is coming off a .500 season last season. Anytime a NEC plays a tradition-rich program like the Wolverines, it is always one to circle on the calendar.

Fairleigh Dickinson @ Rutgers – December 23, 7pm – BTN Plus – Two seasons ago in Greg Herenda’s first season at FDU, they upsets Rutgers at their place. Can FDU make it two wins at Rutgers in three seasons?

Robert Morris @ Georgia – December 29, 7pm – SECN+ – RMU finishes off their tough non-conference schedule against another NCAA tournament team from last season in Georgia. RMU has played a couple of SEC teams on the road in their non-conference finale in past few seasons, each game has been a fairly close affair so this one should be one to look out for.

LIU Brooklyn @ UMass – December 29 – The Blackbirds finish out their non-conference schedule against the Minutemen. This isn’t the UMass of old with John Calipari and Marcus Camby but UMass is a season removed from an NCAA tournament appearance but they should be competitive in the deep Atlantic 10 conference.

Other big opponent non-conference games:

Fairleigh Dickinson @ Villanova – November 13
Mount St. Mary’s @ Ohio State – November 15
Mount St. Mary’s @ Washington – November 19
St. Francis Brooklyn @ Louisville – November 24
Bryant @ Harvard – November 25
Bryant @ Providence – December 12
Sacred Heart @ Northwestern – December 21

Marquee NEC Games to watch for:

LIU Brooklyn @ Mount St. Mary’s – January 2 – Likely the marquee game of opening day in the NEC. The games between these two teams since Jamion Christian’s arrival to the Mount have been for the most part very competitive. This is going to big test for the young Blackbirds right out of the gate.

Robert Morris @ LIU Brooklyn – January 7 – Any time these two rivals get together, it is usually must-see. LIU swept RMU in their season series last season. This first meeting will be in Brooklyn.

Robert Morris @ St. Francis Brooklyn – January 9 – A rematch of last season’s NEC championship game. It will be little consolation to the Terriers but I’ll assume they would like to get some form of revenge on the team that came into their gym and dashed their hopes of making their first appearance into the NCAA tournament.

Mount St. Mary’s @ Robert Morris – January 14 – Could likely be the first of two heavyweight battles between what many people feel will be the top two contenders for the NEC crown this season.

St. Francis Brooklyn @ LIU Brooklyn – January 23 – Battle of Brooklyn – The annual Battle of Brooklyn returns to LIU this season. SFC won the battle last season. In fact, the Terriers won all three meetings against their cross-Fulton Street rivals last season. Still one of the best rivalries in the NEC.

Robert Morris @ Bryant – January 23 – This game the last few years have one of the better ones on the NEC calendar. The atmosphere up at the Chase along with two competitive teams have made this particular one to watch and should be the same once again this season.

Other NEC games to likely circle on your calendars:

Sacred Heart @ Robert Morris – January 2
Saint Francis U. @ St. Francis Brooklyn – January 7
Central Connecticut @ Fairleigh Dickinson – January 9
LIU Brooklyn @ Wagner – January 14
Robert Morris @ Mount St. Mary’s – January 28
Bryant @ Sacred Heart – January 30
Bryant @ Robert Morris – February 6
LIU Brooklyn @ St. Francis Brooklyn – February 13
Mount St. Mary’s @ Bryant – February 20
Robert Morris @ Sacred Heart – February 25
Bryant @ LIU Brooklyn – February 27

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