The 2013-14 basketball schedule has been released and is available on the team website. Here are some quick hit thoughts:
1. The season starts with two tournaments, the first at Alvernia, and the second the D3 Hoopsville Classic at Stevenson. We do not know the teams in attendance at Alvernia, but Middlebury will likely be the favorites. At Stevenson, the first game is against the host team and will be tough, while the tournament press release lists Middlebury as facing St. Mary’s in the second game of that tournament. If that is the case, it will be a major challenge for the Panthers. St. Mary’s is a perennial contender and is likely to be ranked in the top five nationally heading into the season. This could be Middlebury’s first pre-New-Year’s loss since 2008.
2. The new NESCAC scheduling kicks in this year, and that means Middlebury plays on Fridays and Sundays, instead of the traditional Fridays and Saturdays. This could make traveling more difficult and lead to less attendance at some home games during NFL playoffs, but will also allow more time for film work and game planning before the second game.
3. The home NESCAC games are Friday, January 10th (Bates), Sunday, January 12th (Tufts), Friday, January 31st (Williams), Friday, February 7th (Colby), and Sunday, February 9th (Bowdoin). The Ephs are going to be a top-ranked team nationally and could conceivably arrive to Pepin undefeated at the end of January. The other marquee matchup at home is vs. Plattsburgh on January 7th. Plattsburgh was a tournament team last season.