Sunday, March 8, 2009

GAMEDAY: America East Championship, Semifinals Preview

Five of the America East Championship's eight games are already in the books after the conclusion of an eventful quarterfinal round, but there are still three remaining, including two today. Yesterday determined which teams are truly in position to make a run at the title, but today's games set the stage for next week's ultimate battle. Without further ado, let's get to the matchups.

Sunday, March 8:
No. 6 Maryland-Baltimore County (14-16, 8-9) vs. No. 7 Albany (15-15, 7-10), 2:07 p.m.

Two quarterfinal upset winners meet in the semifinals for an unlikely pairing. Albany burst out of the gates in its quarterfinal matchup but had to survive a serious comeback attempt by Vermont and took 45 minutes before securing the victory. Not to be outdone in the drama department, the Retrievers needed all of Darryl Proctor's 33 points, including a game-tying shot with 2.5 seconds remaining, to force overtime and ultimately defeat Boston University. Two more different teams could not be found. UMBC makes the most of its possessions by relying on its senior leaders for major point production, protects the basketball, and suffers from rebounding woes. The Great Danes, in contrast, are not efficient in the traditional sense on offense but crash the boards to get second chance opportunities for an offense built around a junior and a sophomore. These teams' two previous meetings produced a split, with the home team winning each contest. Albany looks to improve to 11-3 at home, while UMBC is looking for a repeat trip to the finals.

Projected starting lineups:


No. 1 Binghamton (21-8) vs. No. 4 New Hampshire (14-16), 5:07 p.m.

The early game may feature two upset winners, but today's second game matches chalk against chalk. The Bearcats have won nine straight and have a head of steam, but don't be so quick to discount the Wildcats' chances. UNH gave Binghamton a real scare during its visit to Vestal, leading by six with three minutes to go in regulation before the Bearcats managed to sneak away with a one-point overtime win. Nobody in the conference can match Binghamton's speed and athleticism, so New Hampshire will need its shotmakers to create and convert open looks in order to keep pace. No high seeds on the other side of the bracket guarantees this game's winner will host the final.

Projected starting lineups:


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