America East Tournament: Hartford vs UMBC Prediction
Hartford vs UMBC Preview
The UMBC Retrievers (20-12, 11-5) were the darlings of March Madness last season being the first No.16 seed ever to beat a No.1 seed when they took down Virginia. Fast forward to this season–they will need to play a great game just to advance to the America East Tournament final. Much was the same last year when UMBC defeated this same Hartford squad in the semis, but the Hawks are more experienced and more talented.
Hartford (18-14, 10-6) comes in hot, winners of six of their last seven games which included a 78-70 victory over UMass-Lowell in the quarterfinals of the tournament.
Last year, UMBC entered the game having swept the regular season series, this year the Hawks have turned the tables. Hartford beat UMBC on their home floor (the same place as tonight’s game) 70-61 and at their own home court 66-64 earlier in conference play. How it broke down:
- George Blagojevic, who joined J.R. Lynch with a team-high 16 points, scored the first six points in overtime to lead Hartford past UMBC, 66-64, on Jan. 9.
- In the second meeting, J.R Lynch scored 20 of his game-best 28 points in the second half as the Hawks outscored the Retrievers, 38-28, in that stretch to earn a 70-61 road win (Feb. 6).
The Retrievers are led by four-year starter and Academic All-American Joe Sherburne who averages 14.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game. While he has struggled this year, he is a sharpshooter from three-point range, making 262 throughout his career.
UMBC only returned two starters from that team that upset Virginia in the NCAA Tournament, but that has not stopped them from competing at a high level.
- Hartford was the lone America East team to win a game at the UMBC Event Center this season and the only team to record a season sweep over the Retrievers.
- Last season, UMBC defeated Hartford in all three meetings, including a 75-60 triumph in the America East semi-finals, also played at the UEC.
- The winner of Tuesday’s game punches its ticket to the America East Championship game to face the winner of the other America East semifinal, between No. 1 Vermont/No. 7 Binghamton
- The title game is set to tip-off from home of the highest seed on Saturday at 11 a.m. on ESPN2
LINE: -2 UMBC
Dan’s Bet: UMBC ML
Score Prediction:UMBC 85 Hartford 84
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