Saturday, February 28, 2009

Vermont (22-7, 12-3) at UMaine (9-19, 4-11)

Sunday, March 1, 1 p.m.

The last time these two teams met, the Black Bears were arguably playing their best basketball of the season and Vermont was rebounding nicely from an 0-2 start to the America East season.

Vermont continued its climb up Mt. America East while UMaine has gone into a freefall.

Although UMaine lost that game in Burlington, and finished that five-game stretch at 2-3, the Black Bears had reason for hope, having built double-digit leads in successive games against the top three teams in the league.

It's been downhill since then, however, as the Black Bears have gone 1-8 in their last nine games and will enter the conference tournament next week as the No. 8 seed and play No. 9 Hartford. The Catamounts will go in as the No. 2 seed.

Vermont can earn a share of the regular-season title with a win at Alfond Arena, but Binghamton holds the tie-breaker and will be the top seed. Seeds 4 through 7 will be decided Sunday as Stony Brook visits New Hampshire and Albany is at UMBC.

The Catamounts are led by player of the year candidates Mike Trimboli and Marqus Blakely (the reigning POY). Forward Colin McIntosh is solid in the frontcourt.

The Black Bears are just looking for something to feel good about before taking on Hartford in the play-in game. They've been hammered on the boards in the past two games (losses to Albany and Boston U.) and have given up huge offensive spurts in both games.

Freshman guard Gerald McLemore has been in double figures in seven straight games and forward Troy Barnies has had some solid games. Consistency up and down the lineup has continued to be a problem, however.

Thanks to the Black Bears seniors making their final appearance at home. Best wishes.

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