By Matt Noonan
Brandeis University captured the 2018 New England Big 4 Challenge last season with a commanding 74-49 win over Babson College and will attempt to win the title again this weekend when they compete in the two-day, four-team tournament at Salem State University.
The Judges will begin their title defense against Tufts University on Saturday, December 7th at 12 p.m. Babson and Salem State will square-off afterward at 2 p.m. The winner of both contests will advance to Sunday’s championship game at 2 p.m. which will follow the consolation game at 12 p.m.
Brandeis will certainly be a team to watch this weekend after beginning their current campaign with a 5-2 mark, but the same could be said for the Beavers of Babson, which enter the weekend tournament with an impressive 7-0 record. The Green and White’s seventh win – an 87-82 victory over Amherst College earlier this week – was highlighted by Frank Oftring, who netted a career-high 30 points to go along with 10 rebounds.
Tufts saw its five-game winning streak to start its 2019-20 campaign snapped earlier this week against WPI. The Jumbos scored some impressive non-conference wins prior to their initial setback last month against MIT and UMass Dartmouth.
Salem State will attempt to snap its current five-game losing streak this weekend when they face Babson in the opening round. The Vikings have not appeared in the win column since last month when they defeated Anna Maria College, 89-76.
The winner of the tournament will receive the Crotty Cup, which is named after Michael Crotty Sr., who was the Founder and Director of the Middlesex Magic.
“The tournament features four very good teams from four different leagues, to celebrate the game of basketball and a dear friend to each of us in Michael Crotty Sr., Founder, and Director of the Middlesex Magic AAU Club, who left us far too soon,” said Salem State coach Chris Harvey, via the tournament preview.
While Brandeis has won four New England Big 4 Challenges, Babson has won three – their last came during the 2016-17 season when they captured the program’s first-ever NCAA championship. Tufts has won two titles, while Salem State captured its first-ever tournament crown two years ago.