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Men’s Basketball Preview Part III: Non-conference schedule

While we will give the NESCAC games far more attention, Middlebury’s non-conference schedule is challenging and could easily determine whether they receive an NCAA tournament bid. The highlights of this season’s non-conference schedule come at the beginning of the season in the tip-off tournament against Ursinus and Staten Island, then in late January against Keene State, the team that ended Middlebury’s perfect 18-0 start to the season last year. Here are our predictions for every game:

11/16 Ursinus, WIN, Opening night should be an easy win — Ursinus went 9-16 in a weak conference last season.
11/17 Staten Island (assuming chalk), WIN, S.I. coming off a Sweet-16 run, but lost several top scorers.
11/20 at Green Mountain- WIN, Green Mountain loses by 20 to teams that lose by 20 to Middlebury
11/25 at Plattsburgh- WIN, Five Middlebury reserves got double-digit minutes in last year’s 73-54 thrashing.
11/27 S. Vermont- WIN, Not sure if Midd will double their score a la last year, but not sure they won’t either.
12/02 at Johnson & Wales- WIN, No Lamonte Thomas, no problem for Middlebury.
12/06 Johnson State- WIN, Last season, Midd had more rebounds (46) than JSU had points (43).
12/08 Skidmore- WIN, None of Skidmore’s top five leading scorers return; a tournament return is unlikely.
12/30 Rensselaer- WIN, Midd’s defense allowed 111 to RPI last year; a different strategy might be in the works with Sharry gone.
01/15 at Castleton St., WIN, Another high octane offense, will need a lot of threes to keep up.
01/23 at St. Joseph’s, WIN, According to St. Joseph’s website, they were “third in the nation in 2011-12.” Further investigation suggests they are not in the NCAA.
01/29 Keene State, WIN, Last year’s game was somewhat fluky (coming off Williams win, surreal atmosphere and hype, horrible officiating) but the Owls are tough, especially downlow. Midd wins this one if Jack Roberts limits Rashad Wright.
02/05 Lyndon State, WIN, A calm before the storm, as Amherst comes to town later this week.

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