Saturday, March 6, 2010

Black Bears (19-10) vs. UNH (12-16)

Saturday, 8:15 p.m.
Chase Arena, Hartford, Conn.

The intensity will be ratched up a few notches today as the men's tournament gets underway. Unlike the women's field, which for all intents appears to be a two-team party (Hartford and Vermont), the men's field carries a little different aura.

Stony Brook opens with eighth-seeded Albany and needed a last-second Muhammad El-Amin shot to win at Albany. BU has to play Hartford on the Hawks' home floor. Jake O'Brien hit a three in the final seconds to beat Hartford in the teams' last meeting.

Vermont should belt UMBC. UMaine and New Hampshire should be a good one. New Hampshire is a solid team that feeds off of guard Alvin Abreu.

Black Bears left the hotel this morning about 9:45 a.m. for a brief shootaround at Chase Arena. They'll come back to the hotel and make final preparations for tonight's "Late Show."

Meanwhile, we are getting ready. This is the best time of the year and nothing compares to a mid-major conference tourney where everyone is fighting for that one and only NCAA bid.

UMaine is preparing for New Hampshire, a club it has defeated twice this season. The Wildcats will be a dangerous team and unless the Black Bears come out and lock them down on defense, UNH has enough scoring ability to hang with UMaine.

New Hampshire is coming off a win over regular season champ Stony Brook. Black Bears stumbled at BU, having secured the No. 3 seed.

One of the keys for UMaine is keeping Alvin Abreu from getting into a rhythm. Dane DiLiegro can be a physical force for UNH up front, but UMaine has tempered his energy and production in both regular-season contests. This must continue.

The Black Bears are better in the frontcourt and have a deeper roster overall. A wildcard for UNH could be freshman Ferq Myrick. He's a real talent who exploded for 21 points in 19 minutes against Stony Brook.

Black Bears must stay solid defensively and churn out productive offensive sets.

The last time UMaine and UNH met in the tournament was in 2002. UMaine was seeded No. 5 and UNH was No. 4. The Black Bears prevailed in a memorable 54-48 slugfest, then went on to upset No. 1 Vermont in a equally memorable overtime game.

The Vermont game provided a bit of foreshadowing. As Vermont fans bemoaned the fact T.J. Sorrentine was chucking up bombs from all over the place, the Black Bears won. A couple years later, Sorrentine was the poster boy for the NCAA tournament as his 30-footer to launch Vermont past Syracuse became a fixture on tournament highlight reels.

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