America East Tournament: UMBC vs Vermont Preview
UMBC vs Vermont Preview
UMBC was the Cinderella last season, being the first No.16 seed to take down a No.1 seed when they defeated Virginia, but Vermont was one of the first Cinderella’s before they became a staple in March Madness.
The America East final between these two programs figures to provide plenty of madness.
UVM sophomore Stef Smith set the America East Semifinal record with eight three-pointers as top-seeded Vermont advanced to its fourth-straight conference championship game after knocking off seventh-seeded Binghamton 84-51 on Tuesday night. The Catamounts stand at 26-6, their third-highest single-season win total ever.
“It was a great game by all of our guys and offensively it was obviously as good as it’s been for a while,” Vermont head coach John Becker said. “I thought defensively we were just as a good as well. The guys took ownership tonight – they knew exactly what they wanted to do and went out and did it.”
America East Player of the year, junior forward Anthony Lamb leads the conference in scoring (21.1) and is second in rebounding (7.8). Senior guard Ernie Duncan, also a First Team selection, is America East’s most efficient 3-point shooter at 42.9 percent.
The defending America East champion and third-seeded UMBC Retrievers (21-12) face the same challenge they did a season ago as they will take on the top-seeded and host Vermont Catamounts in the championship game of the America East Conference Tournament.
UMBC enters the game riding a three-game winning streak, including a pair of home victories over No. 6 UAlbany (62-54) and No. 4 Hartford (90-85, 2ot) in the tournament. The win over Hartford moved the 2018-19 squad into a tie for third place on UMBC’s all-time list for wins in a season (21). Coach Odom has led three of the top four win-producing teams in school history. This year marks the first time in school history that a Retriever basketball program has produced three consecutive 20-win seasons.
Vermont had won 23 consecutive games in the series, dating back to UMBC’s first championship run in 2008, until UMBC pulled off the 65-62 upset in the 2018 title game. UMBC also beat the Catamounts this season BOTH times–65-56 at home and 74-61 in Vermont.
Overall, UVM leads the all-time series, 32-7, and 15-3 in games played in Burlington.
Dan’s Bet: UMBC +10
It will be very difficult to beat this Vermont team three times in one season, but that is exactly what UMBC will need to do if they are to advance to a second consecutive NCAA Tournament.
Score Prediction: Vermont 79 UMBC 75
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