Reviewing The NEC Non-Conference Schedules

Every school in the NEC has officially announced its 2016-17 non-conference schedule, so, like we did with the MAAC two weeks ago, let’s hand out some scheduling awards.

Once again, at the mid-major level different schools have wildly different scheduling philosophies. Quite honestly, that’s okay. There’s a near-zero chance of earning an at-large bid in the NEC, so however you want to fill the schedule is fine by me. As you’ll see below there were some wildly different choices.

Andy Toole has created another hard schedule to prepare RMU for conference season.
Andy Toole has created another hard schedule to prepare RMU for conference season.

Toughest Schedule: Mount St. Mary’s

Both Andy Toole at Robert Morris and Jamion Christian at MSM believe in challenging their teams during non-conference play. The Colonials’ opponents had an average KenPom rating of 149 last season, while the Mount’s are right behind at 163. One reason MSM’s slate might be a little bit harder is that Christian’s team won’t play a home game until Dec. 7 versus UMBC. An absolutely brutal nine-game road trip to start the season could leave the Mount winless through the first month of the season. RMU’s schedule is tough, but it starts at home against Penn and includes a few neutral site games (and “home” games at the Consol Energy Center).

Notables: Robert Morris, Fairleigh Dickinson, Saint Francis U.

Easiest Schedule: LIU Brooklyn

The Blackbirds seem more interested in earning some wins and easing whoever is in their new backcourt into the season. LIU will play six teams that finished 250th or worse in KenPom. The schedule overall  has an average opponent rating of 260, and that doesn’t even include the season opener against John Jay. Yes, St. John’s and Minnesota should be better, but the rest of the schedule is filled with winnable games and opportunities to show off the Barclays Center. It’s interesting that RMU used the Consol Energy Center to schedule games against Duquesne and Buffalo, whereas LIU will play Loyola (MD) and Niagara in Brooklyn.

Notables: Central Connecticut, Sacred Heart, St. Francis Brooklyn

Looking For Wins: LIU Brooklyn

Jack Perri probably hopes that what comes from the easy schedule is a bunch of wins. The Blackbirds have an outside shot at being above .500 when NEC play kicks off. Considering most NEC teams will be five or more games under .500 by that point, that’d be a good start.

Notable: Wagner

You Missed A Spot: Wagner

The Seahawks currently have 10 non-conference games on the schedule. It’s a really light slate. And only nine of those games will count for RPI purposes, because the last game of the non-conference schedule is on Dec. 22 against the College of Staten Island. Local rivalries are fun, but it’d be nice if the Seahawks could find at least one more Division I opponent somewhere.

It’s Hard Enough: Central Connecticut

CCSU might have the second easiest non-conference schedule in the NEC according to last season’s KenPom ratings, but that’s probably intended to help Donyell Marshall sleep at night. The Blue Devils might be able to win their opener against Hartford, but then going 0-10 the rest of the way is completely plausible. The other easier games on the schedule are all on the road at America East squads (Binghamton, Maine, UMass-Lowell).

10 Games To Look Forward To:

  • LIU Brooklyn vs. Loyola (MD) (Barclays): Nov. 16
  • Fairleigh Dickinson vs. Saint Peter’s (at Fordham): Nov. 20
  • Wagner vs. Rider: Nov. 26
  • Saint Francis U. at NJIT: Nov. 30
  • Bryant vs. New Hampshire: Nov. 30
  • Robert Morris vs. Duquesne (Consol Energy Center): Dec. 6
  • Mount St. Mary’s vs. Lehigh: Dec. 10
  • Fairleigh Dickinson at Rutgers: Dec. 14
  • Saint Francis Brooklyn vs. Manhattan: Dec. 20
  • LIU Brooklyn vs. Niagara (Barclays): Dec. 21

Quick Thoughts:

I Like These: Mount St. Mary’s, Robert Morris, St. Francis Brooklyn, Fairleigh Dickinson
Ok I Guess: Bryant, Saint Francis U., Sacred Heart
Obviously Rebuilding: Central Connecticut
Huh?: Wagner, LIU Brooklyn

4 thoughts on “Reviewing The NEC Non-Conference Schedules

  1. Agree that Wagner’s schedule is light in quantity, but not quality. They’re on the road against two power conference teams that made the NCAA Tournament last year, UConn and Providence, and away for two usually solid programs, UMass and American, despite both coming off disappointing seasons. They’re home for a team that should’ve made the NCAA’s, Monmouth, and another that won 19 games and made the postseason, Fairfield. Their home game with the College of Staten Island is a rare non-D1 game for Wagner in recent years, a local rivalry renewed last year after years dormant. At least they have a close relationship with CSI, which is a few miles away. Not so with say, St. John’s and Incarnate Word last year. Bottom line: Four of their nine non-conference games are vs teams that made or should’ve made last year’s postseason. While fewer “pay” games than past years, still a very solid slate for an NEC team.

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    1. I completely agree with all of the above. I have no problem with Wagner’s competition in the non-conference, just wish they had managed to find another game or two. Part of it is also that I think the Seahawks could be really good and each of those non-conference games would’ve been another chance to prepare.

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  2. The Mount’s schedule is obviously structured with guaranteed $$ in mind. A bit frustrating because virtually none of these games (save for maybe George Mason and UT-Arlington) are winnable. I would love to be able to see us schedule better home games, but I understand that isn’t really feasible at this point. No one really wants to come to The Mount as there is little incentive to do so. Schedule making these days must be brutal; not an enviable task by any means. What sucks is that, cosmetically, it could be an 0-7 or 0-8 start to the season, which may not be a true indicator of the quality of the team.

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    1. Yup. It definitely looks like that guaranteed money is important. I also think it’s tough to convince teams to come to the gyms of the top teams in the NEC. There’s always the potential for a loss. MSM does do some smart scheduling with home-and-home series against local(ish) schools like Loyola (MD), UMBC, and Coppin State. Maybe one of the mid-majors from the DC area would come to The Mount in the future? The front of that schedule though is absolutely brutal.

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