Back-to-Back Pairings in New-Look NEC Basketball Schedule

By Anthony Covino

Sports Editor

NEC basketball will have a whole new style of play under league schedules finally released this week.

The 10-team conference, which delayed the start of the season, has innovated in an effort to enable league play as the COVID-19 pandemic surges, forcing college athletics to revamp and revise traditional practices. NCAA Division 1 basketball competition was halted in March as the first wave of the disease swept the country.

“To create a safe and responsible return to competition, the NEC Council of Presidents and conference administrators worked diligently to develop a regular season schedule model that provides us with the best opportunity to play a full 18-game league slate,” NEC Commissioner Noreen Morris said.

The possibility of fan attendance was not discussed in the press release from the NEC. 

Travel is limited and teams will usually play each other on consecutive days. Other details of the 2020-2021 NEC basketball regular-season scheduling format follow:

  • 18-game, double round-robin regular season has been retained 
  • Men’s and women’s schedules will be mirrored 
  • Aside from contests vs. travel partners, games will be played on back-to-back days against the same opponent at the same site, primarily in a Thursday/Friday format
  • Schools will play their travel partner home-and-home
  • Conference play will begin Dec. 8 with each school playing three or four times in December 
  • Following the holiday break, the NEC schedule will resume on Jan. 7
  • Six mid-week makeup dates have been incorporated into the schedule 

The FDU men’s basketball schedule begins on Nov. 25 at Quinnipiac, while the women’s basketball schedule starts Nov. 25 at Manhattan.

The Knights will begin league play hosting Central Connecticut on Dec. 8 and Dec. 9. They travel to Loretto, Pa., to play St. Francis on Dec. 15-16.

Wagner will play at FDU on Jan. 7 to start the 2021 calendar year, and will host the Knights on Feb. 11 in one of the rare non-doubleheaders of the NEC’s most unusual season in 40 years.

FDU Men’s key non-conference matchups are against No. 24-ranked Rutgers on Nov. 27 and against Providence on Saturday, Dec. 5, before NEC play starts.

FDU Women’s key non-conference matchups are against St. John’s at home on Nov. 28 and against Fordham on Dec. 8 before starting NEC play.

The NEC men’s and women’s tournaments will pit the top four regular-season finishers, reduced from the usual eight, and games will be played at the higher seed. 

The men’s semifinals will take place on Saturday, March 6, and the championship on Tuesday, March 9. The women’s semifinals will begin March 10 and the final will be on Sunday, March 14.

All of this planning is contingent on government and local regulations and the path the pandemic takes. 

Meantime, FDU Coaches Greg Herenda and Angelika Szumilo announced player commitments from the early signing period. 

Point guard Antoine Jacks from Greenbelt, Md., shooting guard Rashawn Ford Jr. from Jersey City, and power forward Ibrahim Amadou Wattara from the Bronx will join the Knights in the 2021-2022 season. 

Szumilo has signed Bergenfield guard Ella Fajardo, forward Allie McGinn from Staten Island, forward Miranda Elebring from Gayle, Sweden, and center Maddisyn Mahoney from Latham, N.Y., for 2021-2022. 

NEC Media Day tipped off the season last week with the FDU men picked first in the NEC preseason poll and the women picked fourth.

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