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.
Maine and New Hampshire will also compete this spring – the two teams will compete against members of the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) North Division. The CAA’s spring season is slated to begin on Saturday, February 20 with Davidson visiting Elon and James Madison hosting Morehead State.
Rhode Island, which is one of seven teams that makes-up the CAA’s North Division, will also be in action this spring – the Rams are currently scheduled to compete against Bryant on Saturday, February 27.
The CAA will not have a championship game like the Patriot League. Instead, the team with “the best overcall conference record” will secure the league’s automatic qualifier to the NCAA Football Championship, which will begin Saturday, April 24.
The Northeastern Conference (NEC) plans to play a four-game conference schedule, which is good news for fans of Bryant, Central Connecticut, Merrimack, and Sacred Heart. Games will be played on Sundays or midweek with a conference championship expected to take place on either Friday, April 16 or Saturday, April 17.
As noted on Twitter, by Brett McMurphy of Stadium, the FCS national title game will be played Sunday, May 16 in Frisco, Texas.
There will be a Patriot League football season taking place this school year.
As announced earlier today, the Patriot League plans to play a shortened season this spring, beginning Saturday, March 13 and concluding Saturday, April 14 with a championship game between the winner of the North and South Divisions. Colgate, Fordham, and Holy Cross will compete in the North Division while Bucknell, Lafayette, and Lehigh will makeup the South Division.
All six teams will play four contests, including two non-divisional games.
The Patriot League scheduled a make-up date for Saturday, April 17.
Football is just one of many sports that is currently slated to occur this spring, pending it is safe to compete due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Other fall sports are expected to take place this spring, including field hockey, soccer, and volleyball.
Let the countdown for March – well, more March Madness, to be exact – truly begin as the NCAA announced earlier today that 67 Division I men’s basketball teams will compete for a national championship in a bubble environment in Indiana.
“The 2021 version of March Madness will be one to remember,” said Dan Gavitt, who is the NCAA’s senior vice president of basketball, via NPR.org.
Indeed this year’s big dace will be one to remember – in fact, it will certainly be something we can all look forward to after last year’s March Madness was canceled due to the coronavirus (Covid-19).
The 2021 March Madness schedule is still being sorted out – at the moment, the bracket is scheduled to be released on Sunday, March 14 while the ‘Final Four’ and championship will take place on Saturday, April 3 and Monday, April 5, respectively. Additionally, the NCAA has not made an announcement about fans attending games, so it is a possibility as of this evening.
As for the women’s tournament, the semifinals and finals are scheduled to occur in San Antonio, Texas, but according to NCAA.com, the organization “begun preliminary talks” with both the city and “surrounding region” to identify other parts of the state that all 64 teams could play in to reduce concerns of contracting the virus.
There will be no Ivy League athletic events taking place this winter.
The Ancient Eight called off winter sports this evening due to an uptick in cases of COVID-19, both locally and around the country, while announcing fall sports, including football, would not occur during the spring semester. As for spring sports, they have been paused until “at least the end of February 2021,” per this evening’s release, which can be found on the Ivy League’s website.
Similar to the Ivy League’s announcement about fall sports in July, health and safety for both the student-athletes and coaches, along with each campus and community was a major reason why the Council of Presidents unanimously decided to cancel winter sports. However, the league did confirm that student-athletes that will not be competing this winter, as well as those that did not play games this fall, will not lose a season of Ivy League or NCAA eligibility, whether they are currently or not enrolled.
Despite competition for the winter season being canceled, the Ivy League will permit each institution to offer training opportunities and practices for its student-athletes that are enrolled on campus, but each program must adhere to the guidance issued by their respective institution as well as state and local regulations.