By Matt Noonan (@MattNoonan11)
Happy Friday the 13th, D3 Hoop Fans!
Let’s kick-start this three-day weekend with five games – and five predictions – to watch this weekend.
QUICK NOTE: Rankings (numbers) next to teams are based on this week’s Noontime Sports Top 10 Poll, which is posted every Monday morning at 9 a.m. (Women’s Basketball) and 9:30 a.m. (Men’s Basketball) on Twitter (@NoontimeSports).
No. 2 Middlebury at No. 4 Tufts (MBB), Friday, Jan. 13th at 7 p.m. – This is the only meeting between the Panthers and Jumbos (this season). Yet, don’t be shocked if the two tangle in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) tournament next month.
Tufts enters the game on a four-game winning streak, while Middlebury has won eight-straight, including a pair of conference tilts against Wesleyan University and Connecticut College. Middlebury’s Matt St. Amour will be one of many to players to watch this evening, but I think the Jumbos defense will find away to slow down the Panthers’ offense and escape with a two (or three or four) point victory. PREDICTION: Tufts 74, Middlebury 72
Wheaton at No. 1 Babson (MBB), Saturday, January 14th at 2 p.m.: As a Wheaton College alum, I am pretty jacked-up – well, technically excited about their current three-game winning streak. Their win earlier this week over Springfield College was rather impressive. Can Coach Brian Walmsley‘s squad make it four-straight New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) wins tomorrow by squeaking out a dramatic win over number one Babson College? Possibly, but they’ll need their defense to fuel their offense, as well as find a way to prevent transition baskets, too.
The Beavers’ transition game is quite impressive following a defensive carom, so keep an eye on not just Joey Flannery, but Sam Bohmiller, Nick Comenale, Charlie Rice, Matthew Droney and Isaiah Nelsen. Prediction: Babson 74, Wheaton 66
No. 7 Conn. College at No. 2 Amherst (WBB), Saturday, January 14th at 3 p.m.: Slowing down the Amherst College women’s basketball team has been a challenge this season for many squads. The Purple and White are a perfect 13-0, including 1-0 in NESCAC play. This game will be their third conference game of the season – this evening they host Little Three rival Wesleyan University with tip-off scheduled for 7 p.m.
The Camels of Conn. College have enjoyed a successful 2016-17 campaign, capturing some impressive wins over Ithaca College, Roger Williams and Western Connecticut. Against Amherst, the Camels will need everyone, both their starters and reserves to step-up. Expect some big contributions from Mairead Hynes, Payton Ouimette and Liz Malman. PREDICTION: Amherst 75, Conn. College 65
No. 6 Eastern Connecticut at UMass Boston (MBB), Saturday, January 14th at 3 p.m.: This has the making of a fast-paced, up-tempo and exciting contest, so if you’re looking for a quality pre-New England Patriots playoff game to watch, head to UMass Boston for a BIG Little East Conference (LEC) clash.
The Warriors of Eastern Connecticut State University have been on a roll since starting 2-4 overall. Currently, they have won four-straight as well as seven of their last eight contests, including an impressive win over Amherst earlier this month. Hugh Lindo and Tarchee Brown are on a mission to extend their season beyond the end of February, but will need to keep playing their best, especially against a solid foe like the Beacons, which have won their last three contests, including a double-overtime win earlier this week at Plymouth State. PREDICTION: Eastern Conn. 75, UMass Boston 73 (OT)
No. 3 Bowdoin at Williams (WBB), Sunday, January 15th at 3 p.m.: This will be a BIG test for Coach Pat Manning‘s Ephs as they host the third-ranked Polar Bears on Sunday afternoon. Williams enters the weekend 1-1 in NESCAC play – they defeated Trinity College, but fell to second-ranked Amherst College on the road. The Ephs will host the Purple & White later this month – keep an eye on that game.
A win for Williams would provide a boost for the Purple and Yellow heading into their next few conference games, but slowing down a Polar Bears squad that has netted 70, 43, 80 and 87 points over their past four games won’t be easy. Prediction: Bowdoin 68, William 60