The Little East Conference (LEC) basketball season is set to begin this weekend. And this is certainly good news for New England small college basketball fans.
As of this evening, three men’s basketball games are scheduled to tip-off this Saturday, January 23, along with one women’s contests between Keene State and Rhode Island College. More games will occur both later this month and next month, along with a four-team playoff in early March. And pending a national postseason does occur, the winner of their respective conference tournament would represent the league in the NCAA D-III playoffs.
Both Keene State squads have competed previously this school year in their Red vs. White contest while the men’s team squared-off last November against New Hampshire. The Rhode Island men’s basketball team competed last December against Bryant.
While the opening weekend will feature just six of the league’s nine members, Southern Maine is expected to play some games next month, according to a recent post from Al Bean, who is the school’s athletic director.
UMass Boston and Western Connecticut are the only two LEC members that won’t be competing this winter.
The Western Connecticut men’s basketball team captured the LEC crown last winter to secure a date with Tufts University in the opening round of the 2020 NCAA D-III Tournament.
The Eastern Connecticut women’s basketball team, which won its second-straight LEC title last February, announced earlier this month that they would not play an abbreviated season due to “health risks surrounding COVID-19.”
Here is this weekend’s LEC men’s and women’s basketball schedule:
Keene State at Rhode Island College (WBB) | 12 p.m.
Eastern Connecticut at Plymouth State (MBB) | 1 p.m.
Castleton at UMass Dartmouth (MBB) | 2 p.m.
Keene State at Rhode Island College (MBB) | 3 p.m.
Football has finally returned to New England – welcome back, we missed you!
And with the return of a brand new football season, it can only mean one thing: 10 Games to Watch has officially returned to Noontime Sports (get excited!).
So – similar to last year – we will highlight 10 New England D3 contests to watch (and follow/attend) this weekend, as well as our predictions for each contest, too. And as always, you can let us know what you think of our predictions by sending us a tweet to @NoontimeSports or @Noontime_FB (our brand new football Twitter handle!).
Let’s kick-off a BRAND new season with our first installment of 10 Games to Watch in week one!
Univ. of New England at Coast Guard Academy (Thursday, Aug. 30th | 7 p.m.): The Bears open its 2018 campaign against a new opponent (UNE), which will certainly be a team to watch this fall as a first-year varsity program. But tonight, we’ll take the Bears over the Nor’Easters, which will be led by junior quarterback Ryan Jones. PREDICTION: Coast Guard 28, UNE 10
WPI at Anna Maria (Friday, Aug. 31st | 7 p.m.): WPI is one of our teams to watch this fall – as we mentioned earlier this week, they are very determined to challenge Springfield College for the top spot in the NEWMAC – so look for the Engineers to begin their season with a week one win against a non-conference/Worcester area foe. PREDICTION: WPI 35, Anna Maria 14
Western New England at Springfield College (Friday, Aug. 31st | 7 p.m.): Junior Hunter Belzo and the Pride’s offense will look to continue its momentum from last season, which began with an opening day win over their neighbors in the Battle for the Pynchon Saw. PREDICTION: Springfield 28, WNE 21
Dean College at Curry College (Friday, Aug. 31st | 7 p.m.): This will be a good test for the Colonels, who were picked to finish third in the CCC (tied with Endicott College). Sure, they graduated some key pieces from last year’s squad, which advanced to the New England Bowl, but an opening day win against the Bulldogs could provide the Purple and White with some much-needed early season momentum. PREDICTION: Curry 27, Dean 14
Becker College at MIT (Friday, Aug. 31st | 7 p.m.): Coach Brian Bubna and the Engineers will look to begin a new chapter – and yes, a new season, as well! – with a win against a Becker squad they topped last season on the road. PREDICTION: MIT 21, Becker 7
Endicott College at Framingham State (Saturday, Sept. 1st | 12 p.m.): For the past few seasons, the Rams of Framingham State have had their way with the Gulls of Endicott. However, this game has the making for a potential upset, so don’t be surprised if the Blue and Green fly home to Beverly with an opening day win. PREDICTION: Endicott 24, Framingham State 20
Buffalo State at Bridgewater State (Saturday, Sept. 1st | 12 p.m.): Buffalo State should certainly provide some challenges for the Bears of Bridgewater State, which almost defeated the Bengals last season in New York. This game has the makings for an exciting first week contest, which could come down to the final drive. PREDICTION: Buffalo State 26, Bridgewater State 17
Salve Regina at Worcester State (Saturday, Sept. 1st | 12 p.m.): If the Lancers hope to contend for the MASCAC crown this fall they must find a way to get past some of the region’s top teams, including Salve Regina. The Seahawks were picked to finish second the CCC Preseason Coaches’ Poll on Wednesday, and will certainly provide Worcester State with some challenges on both sides of the ball. PREDICTION: Salve Regina 29, Worcester State 24
Husson Univ. at Union College (Saturday, Sept. 1st | 1 p.m.): An opening day win against a talented Union squad would be a tremendous ways to start the post-John Smith era at Husson. The Eagles return some key pieces from last year’s squad, which should certainly help them contend against some of the best teams in both New England and New York this fall. PREDICTION: Husson 17, Union 13
Plymouth State at Castleton Univ. (Saturday, Sept. 1st | 1 p.m.): The Panthers maybe the favorite in this contest, but don’t overlook the Spartans’ offense, which will be led by senior wide-out Ryan Barry and classmate/halfback Moe Harris. PREDICTION: Castleton 21, Plymouth State 20
We kickstart a brand new weekend with another edition of the Football Friday Notebook with loads of links from around the web about the New England Patriots to local high school football starting today/this weekend.
Have a great weekend, everyone, and make sure to circle back for more local football content over the next few days because football is officially back!
As we inch closer to a brand new D3 Football season, more teams are beginning to unveil their 2018 schedules, including the Castleton Spartans, which kick-off its season on Saturday, September 1st when they host Plymouth State at 1 p.m.
Plymouth State has won the past two meetings against the Spartans, but a win over the Panthers in three months would be Castleton’s first since 2015.
One week after their annual meeting with the Panthers, Castleton will hit the road for a trio of games, including a visit to Norwich on Saturday, September 15th at 2 p.m. Castleton-Norwich is always a game to watch as both teams compete for the Maple Sap Bucket Trophy. Castleton beat Norwich, 28-14, last season, thanks to a pair of rushing scores by Moe Harris.
Castleton will cap its first month of play with a visit to Misericordia before jumping into Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) play on Saturday, October 6th when they host Anna Maria at 6 p.m. The Spartans will travel just once in October to Gallaudet, but host Maritime (N.Y.) and Husson on October 20th and 27th, respectively.
The Spartans will cap their regular season with a pair of November games against Alfred State and Dean with hopes of competing in either the New England Bowl or NCAA Tournament on Saturday, November 17th.
Castleton finished 6-4 overall last season, including 5-2 in league play. Coach Tony Volpone returns some key pieces from last year this fall, including Harris, quarterback Mitchell Caron, wide receiver AdnaneAdossama, linebacker Grant Cummings and defensive back Owen Tretter.
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* Want more D3 football offseason interviews and analysis? Then check-out the In The (D3fB) Huddle offseason show, featuring Baker and Frank Rossi.
Week One Games To Watch
UNE at Coast Guard Academy (Aug. 30th): UNE will play its first-ever NCAA Division III football game on the road against a Bears squad that will look to be in the mix for a NEWMAC crown this fall.
Frostburg State at Stevenson (Aug. 30th): The Bobcats will attempt to win at least 10 games (or more!) again this season – if they accomplish that feat it would be three-straight seasons of winning 10 games or more. They registered 33 points last year in their opener against Stevenson.
Western New England at Springfield (Aug. 31st): Always a must-see game in the Springfield area. Plus, this year’s rivalry game marks a new era for the Golden Bears, who will be led by first-year coach (and alum) Jason Lebeau.
Delaware Valley at Wesley (Aug. 31st): Two of the best teams in the East Region will meet on a Friday evening to kick-off the season. Make sure to add this game to your calendar now!
Endicott at Framingham State (Sept. 1st): This has always been my ‘welcome back to football’ game every season. I will be on the PA mic for this game and will be keeping an eye on two storylines: Can the Rams get off to a strong start and what does the new era of Gulls football look like under first-year coach Paul McGonagle?
Hobart at Brockport (Sept. 1st): The Golden Eagles will once again be a team to watch this fall – can they make a return trip to the national semifinals? They kick-off their 2018 campaign against a Hobart squad that will be led by an alum named Kevin DeWall.
Plymouth State at Castleton (Sept. 1st): The Panthers captured the MASCAC crown, thanks to a dramatic win over Framingham State. They will look to commence a new campaign with by winning its season-opener for the third-straight year against Castleton.
SUNY Cortland at Fitchburg State (Sept. 1st): The Red Dragons will play back-to-back MASCAC games to start the season – do they begin their 2018 season with a win over the Falcons?
Husson at Union (Sept. 1st): The Eagles made believers out of all of us last season with an impressive win over Springfield in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. Their postseason run concluded the following weekend against DelVal, however, they did score 15 points against them. The post-John Smith era will begin in New York – I will be keeping an eye on this game.
McDaniel at Catholic (Sept. 1st): The Cardinals will look to commence its new season with its second win over McDaniel in three years. Last year, Catholic fell to McDaniel, 30-10, but the Cardinals managed to overcome the early setback with back-to-back wins over Randolph-Macon and Utica.
Rochester at Case Western (Sept. 1st): The Yellow Jackets begin a new era as first-year coach Chad Martinovich takes over a Yellow Jackets squad that will look to be in the mix for a Liberty League (LL) crown this fall.
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