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Top NEC Games To Watch

With every NEC team’s schedule announced, which games should you circle on your calendar?

Minnesota v Saint Joseph Photo by Chris Chambers/Getty Images

The NEC was the second conference to have every team announce their schedule (still waiting on someone from the ACC).

With that, let’s list some of the best regular season games involving NEC teams in 2017.

We’ll start with listing some nonconference games to watch.

FEBRUARY

Bryant @ Bucknell (February 11)

Penn State @ Hobart (February 11)

Delaware @ Mount St. Mary’s (February 11)

Bellarmine @ Robert Morris (February 11)

Maryland @ St. Joe’s (February 14)

Penn @ St. Joe’s (February 18)

Richmond @ Mount St. Mary’s (February 21)

Wagner @ Monmouth (February 21)

Hartford @ Bryant (February 24)

Cornell @ Hobart (February 25)

St. Joe’s @ Duke (February 25)

Bryant @ Boston University (February 28)

MARCH

Bryant @ Yale (March 4)

Robert Morris @ High Point (March 5)

Monmouth @ St. Joe’s (March 10)

Georgetown @ Hobart (March 11)

Vermont @ Sacred Heart (March 11)

Mercer @ Wagner (March 12)

APRIL

Syracuse @ Hobart (April 5)

Georgetown @ Mount St. Mary’s (April 19)

Brown @ Bryant (April 25)

TOP GAME: Did you know Bryant gave Brown their first loss of the season last year? Well here’s a friendly reminder: Bryant gave Brown their first loss of the season last year. These games have been very close the past two years, and you can thank the Bulldog defense for that. Although there’s no Gunnar Waldt between the pipes, it should still be a close game, with Bryant’s starting defense still in tact.

TOP MATCHUP: Speaking of that Bryant-BU game, I think that will have the best matchup. The Terriers return pretty much their entire offense from a year ago, while Bryant returns many of their personnel on defense. Having that stability on both teams for their respective sides of the ball will make this a good matchup to look out for when these two teams play late in February. Plus, both teams will have a few games under their belt.

UNDER-THE-RADAR GAME: We’re going back to St. Joe’s for a second. I think the Hawks’ game against Duke could be an early upset game, knowing Duke’s early season struggles. The Blue Devils lost to Richmond and Air Force at home last season, and I think St. Joe’s is around the same caliber as those two SoCon teams. Not having Mike Rastivo definitely doesn’t help, but if they can find a way to replace his production, the Hawks should be in this game.

From the nonconference games to the conference games, here’s my Top 5.

  1. St. Joe’s @ Bryant (March 25) - Year after year, it’s been the best NEC regular season game of the season. Both teams are capable of winning the NEC and reaching the NCAA Tournament, but the Hawks’ struggles in the conference tournament have left them out for the past few years. I expect another nailbiter between two of the top teams in the NEC.
  2. Hobart @ St. Joe’s (April 8) - It’s a rematch of the NEC Championship game from last year, when the Statesmen upset the Hawks. Hobart got hot at the right time, after they lost big to Bryant and St. Joe’s in the regular season. What Hobart will we see in this regular season meeting? They return plenty of their key players from last year, including Frank Brown.
  3. Bryant @ Hobart (April 15) - The first of the Hobart upsets in the NEC Tournament came against the Bulldogs, who won six of their last seven games at the time. The Bulldogs will certainly have revenge on their minds when they travel to Geneva, New York, while the Statesmen hope to carry last year’s momentum well into 2017 when the two teams meet.
  4. Wagner @ Hobart (March 18) - WAAAAAAAGGGGGNNNNEEEERRRRR!!!! It was a classic last year in Staten Island, with the Statesmen winning in triple overtime. Odds are this meeting won’t be decided in triple overtime, but hey, if it does, I’ll certainly take it. Wagner hopes to make some noise in the NEC this season, and doing it against the defending league champions will certainly put everyone else on notice.
  5. Robert Morris @ Bryant (April 22) - Robert Morris had a pretty good showing last season, but sustain some losses in leading scorers Luke Laszkiewicz and James Rahe. Their starting goaltender and top face-off specialist are also gone, so it may not be an intriguing game on paper. The Bulldogs squeaked a 13-12 win over the Colonials in Moon Township last season.