Friday, February 18, 2011

Treble trouble

If history serves as teacher, the lesson plan for America East is clear: You must be a top three seed to have any hope of winning three games in the conference tournament.

With this in mind, the Black Bears embark on the final two-games of the America East season. Having played their way out of the the No. 1 or No. 2 spot, the Bears must reach deep and hold on to third place.

UMaine is now part of a five-team scramble for the 3 through 7 slots. One victory by UMaine would make it impossible for Hartford to overtake the Black Bears ... crucial because the Hawks are the only team that holds the first tie-breaker advantage, having swept UMaine. If UMaine ties with Albany, Stony Brook or New Hampshire, the win over Vermont gives the Bears the tiebreaker.

Analysis: One win in final two games and Bears will be No. 3. Can't be passed by anyone even if Albany finishes 9-7. ... Even if Bears finish in an 8-8 tie with Stony, Albany and UNH, they hold the tiebreaker over them. ... Hartford's loss to Binghamton was big for Black Bears. A tie with Hartford looks highly unlikely at this point and that's the one they would have lost. ... So, No. 3 is likely, No. 4 at worst. They need to fight to stay at No. 3.

Here's a look at the teams fighting for those five seed positions in order of predicted finish:

No. 3

Albany (6-7)

Remaining schedule: at Binghamton, UMBC, at Maine.
Best AE win: Stony Brook.
Prediction: 3-0 to finish 9-7.

No. 4

UMaine (8-6)

Remaining schedule: at UNH, Albany.
Best AE win: Vermont.
Prediction: 0-2 to finish 8-8.
Tiebreaker: Victory over Vermont gives Bears tiebreaker over everyone except Hartford.

No. 5

Stony Brook (6-8)

Remaining schedule: at Hartford, Binghamton.
Best AE win: UNH.
Prediction: 2-0 to finish 8-8.

No. 6

UNH (6-8)

Remaining schedule: Maine, at Hartford.
Best AE win: Boston U.
Prediction: 2-0 to finish 8-8.

No. 7

Hartford (5-8)

Remaining schedule: at UMBC, Stony Brook, UNH.
Best AE win: Boston U.
Prediction: 1-2 to finish 6-10.

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