Sunday, February 15, 2009

Call it Tie-breaker Week

The results from the past few days of America East basketball have set up a golden opportunity for the Black Bears to improve their seeding for the conference tournament ... and stay out of the play-in game.

UMaine can leapfrog the two teams in front of them with a win Thursday at New Hampshire. Victories this week over the Wildcats and at Albany (Sunday) would also give the Black Bears series sweeps over both and the tie-breaker advantage when it comes to seeding for the upcoming America East tournament.

Binghamton, Vermont and Boston U. are locks for the top three seeds. Hartford is a lock for the play-in game at No. 9. But seeds 4 through 8 are a big jig-saw puzzle. Where does UMaine fit in?

Let's see if the Black Bears can summon up their best basketball of the season.

Here are the teams fighting for the fourth- through eighth-place positions, their current records and remaining schedule:

6-7 Stony Brook (BU, at Hartford, at UNH)
6-7 UMBC (Vermont, at Binghamton, Albany)
5-7 UNH (Maine, at Binghamton, Albany, Stony Brook)
5-8 Albany (Maine, at UNH, at UMBC)
4-8 Maine (at UNH, at Albany, at BU, Vermont)

And now, our Black Bears Pit projections:

1. Binghamton, 13-3 ... Bearcats win tie-breaker for top spot
2. Vermont, 13-3 ... Two losses to Binghamton
3. Boston U., 12-4 ... Close schedule with 3 wins
4. UNH, 8-8 ... With favorable schedule, Cats close 3-1
5. Stony Brook, 7-9 ... Seawolves go 1-2, win tie-breaker over UMBC
6. UMBC, 7-9 ... Defending champs close 1-2
7. Albany, 6-10 ... Danes finish 1-2
8. UMaine, 4-12 ... Heart says 2-2, mind & past performance says 0-4
9. Hartford, 2-14 ... split season series vs. Black Bears


MattT said...

For some reason I think Maine will beat UNH and lose the other 3. Looks like another play-in game to me. What is the deal with BU? I don't think they will go past round 1 of the tourney. I can see Albany or UMBC beating them. Stony Brook could also be a suprise team. Unless UNH catches fire from 3 down the stretch I see them in the 7th spot a game ahead of Maine. I think Binghamton is going to win the AE tourney ultimately, with their excellent guard play and harassing defense. Vermont is very talented but they can be turnover prone and they are a bit too soft. Their coach is also a whine-ass but that's beside the point.

thepit said...

Black Bears have shown they can play with the best in the league, but consistency and home-court woes continue to be the problem; 2-2 will get them out of the play-in. I'm making plans for watching the Bears Friday night, March 6. Since the injuries to Morris and Strong, BU's been playing three and four guys heavy, heavy minutes. Maybe it's catching up to them? Any AE team that has weapons like Lowe/Holland and, now, O'Brien will be dangerous. But when one of them isn't hitting (like Lowe against Binghamton the other day), they'll be more vulnerable.
I just think UNH's schedule gives Wildcats a real chance to move up to the four spot. They already picked off a roadie (Albany) and now they close with three of four at home. As for the tourney? Couldn't agree more: Anybody but Vermont.
We always look forward to the tourney. It's a lot of fun, but feeling like your team has a chance to win a game or two makes a difference and it's been a while since we felt like that.
Maybe that'll change in the final two weeks, but it's extremely hard to change your stripes at this point in the season.

Rocko said...

I like what I've seen of Stony Brook. Now there's an example of an America East program that has been down but is clearly showing signs of heading in the right direction. Can't say the same about UMaine. The Seawolves are my sleeper pick in the A-East tourney. I really like their freshman forward that pounds the glass.