By Matt Noonan | @MattyNoonz11
Welcome to the BIG conference tournament weekend – where did the time go?
It seems like yesterday multiple teams were posting photos on Twitter or Instagram from their initial practice of the 2018-19 season. But today, tomorrow and Sunday marks the end of an exciting week of conference tournament play before we head into the first week of the NCAA Tournament.
We have some enticing match-ups to follow tomorrow, including Gordon College vs. Nichols College in the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) championship – I initially thought Western New England would be competing for the title, but a second-half rally helped the Bison secure a spot in the postseason – along with Emerson College hosting WPI and Newbury College visiting Mitchell College for the right to represent the New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) in the NCAA Tournament.
On the women’s side, one should certainly not overlook Becker College traveling to New England College, Springfield College entertaining MIT, and St. Joseph’s College (Maine) hosting Emmanuel College.
These are just a few games I will be eyeballing – yes, there are more – but now it is time to dish out my conference championship predictions. And as usual, feel free to send a tweet or note my way if you agree or disagree, but as always, thank you all so much for following along with our New England D3 hoops coverage and best of luck to all teams competing this weekend!
Noonan’s Conference Championship Predictions
Commonwealth Coast Conference | Men’s Champion: Nichols College. I owe an apology to the Bison – I picked against you guys on social media (videos on Instagram and Twitter) – but from what I witnessed last night in the second half against the Golden Bears, I think this team has what it takes to beat Gordon.
Commonwealth Coast Conference | Women’s Champion: Endicott College. I thought Curry College had a chance to beat the Gulls on the road, but their match-up with Western New England should prepare the Green and Blue for hopefully a first (and second round) NCAA Tournament victory.
Great Northeast Athletic Conference| Men’s Champion: St. Joseph’s (Conn.). Coach Jim Calhoun‘s squad will make its first-ever appearance in the GNAC championship tomorrow against a really tough foe in Albertus Magnus. But something seems to be clicking for the Blue Jays, so let’s go with the Blue and Gold in this one.
Great Northeast Athletic Conference | Women’s Champion: St. Joseph’s (Maine). A source told us that Emmanuel College probably could have won this game a few weeks ago, but the Monks seemed to seal the win with some big plays in all four quarters, along with some key late freebies. The Saints will certainly challenge this Monks squad but in the end, we expect St. Joeseph’s to prevail.
Little East Conference | Men’s Champion: Keene State. The Owls are indeed one of the hottest teams in New England, so look for their current momentum to carry them to wins over Western Connecticut and most likely Eastern Connecticut.
Little East Conference | Women’s Champion: Eastern Connecticut. All four teams have the capability to make big plays, play locked-down defense and do what is needed to pull out wins. But on this particular weekend, we think the Warriors will just make one or two more plays to secure the LEC’s automatic bid to the big dance.
Massachusetts State College Athletic Conference | Men’s Champion: Salem State. As long as Sean Bryan records a double-double, which he did against Bridgewater State, then I will take the Vikings. The Owls already beat the Vikings on their home court earlier this month, so don’t expect this game to be a runaway.
Massachusetts State College Athletic Conference | Women’s Champion: Worcester State. This is the Lancers’ best opportunity to advance to the NCAA Tournament, so I expect them to squeak past the Owls with a late freebie to secure the conference’s automatic bid.
New England Collegiate Conference | Men’s Champion: Mitchell College. Mitchell went on the road and beat the top team in the NECC in overtime. They also dislodged a quality Southern Vermont team two days earlier. Look for Mitchell to celebrate a conference crown on Saturday in New London, Connecticut.
New England Collegiate Conference | Women’s Champion: Becker College. A senior-led Hawks squad will manage to find a way past the Pilgrims to secure a return trip to the NCAA Tournament.
New England Small College Athletic Conference | Men’s Champion: Amherst College. An end of the season loss to Hamilton College has me thinking these Mammoths will not only beat Williams College but then Tufts University, which will find a way to knock off the home team (the Continentals).
New England Small College Athletic Conference | Women’s Champion: Bowdoin College. The Polar Bears secured home court with a win last week over Connecticut College. On Saturday, they will find a way past the Panthers of Middlebury College and then beat Amherst College, who I believe will take down Tufts University in the other semifinal tomorrow.
New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference | Men’s Champion: WPI. I love the Emerson College story, but I can’t keep picking against these Engineers. They already scored two impressive road wins, beating Babson College on Tuesday and MIT last night.
New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference | Women’s Champion: MIT. Sure, I may be biased to the Engineers, but from what I saw last night against Babson College has me thinking this team has what it takes to go on the road again for the second time this week and beat the Pride. Springfield College, though, will certainly be fired-up after their exciting win last night over Smith College.
North Atlantic Conference | Men’s Champion: Maine-Farmington. As the top seed in this year’s NAC tournament, I find it would be hard for the home team to not play twice in a weekend. They have a tough match-up with Thomas College in this evening’s semifinals, but if they can beat the Terriers than I expect them to top the winner of SUNY Canton-Husson.
North Atlantic Conference | Women’s Champion: Maine Maritime. The Mariners are the number two seed and should find a way past SUNY Canton before beating Husson University, which I believe will knock-off NVU-Lyndon. I think Maine Maritime will use a mid-to-late fourth-quarter run to beat the Eagles and advance to the NCAA Tournament.
Stay connected with our Noontime Basketball coverage by following @Noontime_Hoops on Twitter!