By Matt Noonan | @NoontimeNation
Another busy weekend of New England D-III college basketball is set to tip-off this afternoon and evening – hope you are ready for some great games to watch and follow!
Let’s begin with one game to watch in Medford, Massachusetts this evening as the Tufts University women’s basketball team welcomes Wesleyan University to Cousens Gymnasium for a 7 p.m. tip-off.
Friday’s clash between the Cardinals and Jumbos marks the official start of New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) play.
Tufts enters tonight’s contest riding an impressive 13-game winning streak, which has included recent wins over UMass Dartmouth, SUNYIT, and Wheaton College. Emily Briggs highlighted the Powder and Blue’s effort against the Lyons on Wednesday by connecting on 7 of 10 field goals for 19 points – she also made all three freebies. Erica DeCandido chipped in 13 points on six of eight shooting.
Wesleyan should certainly provide Tufts with some challenges on both ends of the court – the Cardinals have won eight of 11 contests thus far, including an early January clash with Babson College. The Cardinals began their 2019-20 campaign with six-straight wins.
In their last outing against SUNY Geneseo, last weekend, Caleigh Ryan and Katy O’Connor combined for 24 points, while Emma Roush added 10 points off the bench.
A few other NESCAC women’s games to watch tonight and this weekend include Bowdoin College at Trinity College (1/10 at 7 p.m.), Amherst College at Middlebury College (1/10 at 7 p.m.), and Amherst at Williams College on Saturday, January 11th at 3 p.m.
On the men’s side of the NESCAC, keep an eye on Friday’s clash between Middlebury and Amherst. The Panthers have won 13-straight contests, including three consecutive 2020 meetings with Colby-Sawyer, Springfield College, and Plattsburgh State. This particular outing should be a good test for the Panthers, but also the Mammoths, who began the new year with a 116-44 win over Lesley University before falling to Wesleyan three days later by a score of 79-77.
My prediction for Friday’s Amherst-Middlebury game is the following: The Mammoths will prevail and receive some major contributions from Grant Robinson, Fru Che, and Eric Sellew.
Tomorrow (Saturday, January 11th), WPI will entertain Babson in a very enticing New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) contest. The Engineers began conference play earlier this week against MIT, while the Beavers were edged on Wednesday by Springfield.
It’s too early to say this a must-win for the Beavers (or Engineers) as all eight teams play each other twice in a single-season, but this could be a potential preview of the conference championship game next month.
Other Games to Watch (and Follow) this Weekend:
- WBB: Framingham State at Westfield State (Saturday, Jan. 11th at 12 p.m.): The Rams can begin conference play with a win on the road against an Owls team, which has not won a game since beating Plymouth State in mid-to-late November.
- WBB: Western New England at Wentworth Inst. of Technology (Saturday, Jan. 11th at 1 p.m.): Look for the Golden Bears to bounce back after losing to WPI earlier this week. A win over the Leopards would provide WNE with their fourth conference win and keep them within at least one or two games of the University of New England.
- WBB: Brandeis University at New York University (Saturday, Jan. 11th at 1 p.m.): The Judges face another 10-1 squad in an important conference meeting. Brandeis has won 10 of 11 contests this season so I expect that momentum will help them against the Violets.
- MBB: Keene State at Rhode Island College (Saturday, Jan. 11th at 3 p.m.): This is an important meeting for both teams as the Anchormen and Owls are in a three-way tie with Western Connecticut for the top spot in the conference. Look for the Anchormen to bounce back after losing to Western Connecticut earlier this week.