Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Black Bears (16-9, 8-4) at UNH (10-14, 5-8)

Wednesday, Feb. 17, 7 p.m.
Lundholm Gym, Durham, N.H.

If the Black Bears have any thoughts of cruising down I-95 to pick up a gift-wrapped victory in advance of a two-game homestand, they might want to check New Hampshire's America East resume.

While UNH seems destined for a seventh-place finish in the league standings, the Wildcats have been fighting toe-to-toe with everybody in the league.

UNH has lost twice in overtime (at Binghamton, at Vermont). They've also lost to Hartford twice by three points, the second on last-second 3-pointer from Joe Zeglinski. Early in the league schedule, UNH dropped a couple other close games ... four points to BU and six points at league leading Stony Brook (where the Black Bears were thumped).

The Wildcats finish with three straight home games, but face an uphill climb to get out of seventh place. They'd have to leapfrog Hartford in the standings (the Hawks hold the tiebreaker). Binghamton is two games up on UNH in the loss column with four games left -- two of them at home (Hartford and UMBC).

Still, don't expect the Wildcats to go quietly into the New England night on Wednesday. This is a club that was within a whisker of knocking off eventual league champ Binghamton in the tourney semifinals last year.

UNH players to watch
Alvin Abreu ... 6-2 guard, 14. 8 points
Tyrone Conley ... 6-2 guard, 12.0 points, 34 percent on 3s
Dane DiLiegro ... 6-8 center, 9.3 points, 8.4 rebounds
Radar Onguetou ... 6-5 forward, 5.8 points, 6 rebounds

At stake for UMaine
Keep winning games, hang on to third place and see what happens with the leaders. ... America East history shows that seeding is crucial come conference tourney time. The higher you finish, the better your chances, it's as simple as that. ... Stony Brook finishes with three out of four on the road, beginning tonight at UMBC. Doesn't appear that Seawolves will stumble, but then again? ... Vermont has pretty much sewn up no worse than second place and could pass Stony Brook with a beneficial three-game finish (at Hartford, at Stony, Binghamton). ... Black Bears can diffuse any thoughts Boston U. has of overtaking third place in the finale on Feb. 27 by taking care of business in the next three. It starts with UNH Wednesday.

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