For the first time since March 10, Central Connecticut athletics has a game to look forward to.
The Northeast Conference announced the schedules for the upcoming men’s and women’s basketball season Monday, finally giving a definitive look into how this season will take place.
The schedule will still have the Blue Devils playing in 18 conference games, however the format of these games will be different than year’s past. CCSU will be playing a conference opponent in a two game series every week, primarily on Thursday and Friday. The men’s season kicks off on December 8 and 9 against Fairleigh Dickinson, the women’s team will be playing their opening series against St. Francis Brooklyn on December 14 and 15.
The postseason and it’s structure have also been changed this year. The NEC Tournament will only have four teams competing instead of eight, making the first round of the playoffs a semi-finals game. The higher seeded team will host the lower seed.
In the NEC’s press release, Commissioner Noreen Morris said the move to have less teams in the playoffs was due to a “strong desire to minimize the financial impact on schools, reduce postseason travel and remove one layer of potential exposure that may impact our ability to safely complete the tournament.”
The financial impact of this season is a serious concern in the NEC. Many schools make a lot of the money that goes towards the athletic budget in road games against big name schools. With smaller school teams less incentivized to travel and bigger schools likewise not doling out the money they typically would in a normal year, keeping the budget low was likely a focus for most teams in the NEC.
The schedule released only contains conference opponents, but this does not rule out out of conference games, which can be scheduled at the discretion of each team, according to the NEC’s press release. The men’s team already has one game outside of the NEC scheduled in Mohegan Sun’s “Bubbleville.” The tournament played at Mohegan Sun will feature 45 teams, and CCSU is scheduled to play the University of Maine on November 27, according to Mohegan Sun’s website.
As far as the conference schedule goes, there is only exception to the rule of two game series, in state opponent Sacred Heart, who CCSU will play in separate weeks. The reasoning behind this is not confirmed but could just be more flexibility given both teams play in Connecticut. This also makes an even nine games on the road and nine at home for both teams.
Both CCSU teams are scheduled to play in two of these series before a winter break. The season will resume on January 7. For the men’s team, the conclusion of the regular season is scheduled for February 26. On the women’s side, the regular season ends on March 1. Both teams will be facing Wagner in their final conference series. There are six mid-week make up dates incorporated into the schedule as well.