Thursday, February 14, 2008

Albany at Alfond

Tonight's game vs. Albany at Alfond Arena begins the Black Bears' stretch drive to move up the America East standings and stay out of the play-in game at the America East tournament. The eighth- and ninth-place teams in America East square off on Friday, March 7 for the right to face the No. 1 seed the following day. Right now, that figures to be UMBC.

The Black Bears are currently one-half game behind UNH for seventh place. But the two teams are even in the loss column. I figure the Bears must win two out of their final six to move out of the eighth-spot. Both UNH and UMaine have tough closing schedules. The Wildcats will be favored to beat Stony Brook at home and will be the underdog in every other game. If the two teams tie for seventh, Maine, with its win over UMBC, most likely would take the tie-breaker.

The Black Bears close the season with these games: Albany, at Binghamton, at Boston Univ., Stony Brook, UMBC, at Vermont.
UNH's closing run is made up of: at Binghamton, at Hartford, Stony Brook, at UMBC, Vermont.

Albany is coming off a solid 64-61 win Monday at Vermont's Patrick Gym and is 13-13, 7-5AE. The Black Bears (7-16, 3-7) posted an upset win at Albany earlier this season and the Danes will be looking for revenge.

A big key for the Black Bears will be the availability of Junior Bernal. The junior guard suffered an injury during Saturday's UNH game. He finished the second half, but was obviously in some pain. Without Bernal, Maine's backcourt takes a hit, especially on the defensive end where he figures to guard Albany standout Brian Lillis.

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