Following an exciting day that saw some great small conference games, including Western Illinois’ huge road win over North Dakota State in yesterday’s SCGD (and setting up another first place Summit League battle tomorrow between Western Illinois and South Dakota State), tonight we have a small Friday schedule with one clear standout game. At 7:00 PM Eastern, Vermont travels to Stony Brook with first place in the America East at stake (espn3 coverage).
Stony Brook is presently 9-2 in conference while Vermont is half a game behind them at 9-3. Both teams are coming off of recent upset losses, as Stony Brook fell two games ago at Hartford while Vermont lost last time out at home against Boston University. BU is currently a game behind Vermont in third place, though ineligible for the conference tournament due to their announcement that they are leaving the league after this season. As a result, tonight’s game may all but decide the top seed in the AEC, especially if Stony Brook can win. This is the second meeting between the conference’s top two teams. Vermont won in Burlington back on January 18, meaning a Catamounts victory tonight as well with give Vermont the tiebreaker edge should the teams finish with identical conference records.
The America East was also the source of one other piece of news yesterday as the Massachusetts-Lowell River Hawks announced that they will be moving up to Division I in all sports beginning this fall, and accepted an invitation to join the America East conference. UML will be one of four new additions to D1 next season, joining Grand Canyon (which is joining the WAC), Abilene Christian (Southland), and Incarnate Word (Southland). The news of UML’s invite to the America East was probably not very welcome to NJIT, the lone team without a conference for next season. The Highlanders had been pushing to take Boston U’s spot in the AEC. At this point, it remains to be seen if the America East will be interested in a 10th team or if the Highlanders will have to look elsewhere for a conference home (the Northeast Conference being the next most likely home for them).