- UMBC is the #1 seed in the America East Conference Tournament, which begins Saturday
- Nine teams are in the tournament and the higher-seeded team will host the championship game March 13
- A look at the field can be found below along with picks
The America East Tournament starts Saturday with three first-round games but will stretch out over two weeks.
The nine-team affair begins with three first-round games: #6 seed UMass Lowell (8-11) plays #7 Stony Brook (9-13) at 1:00 pm ET at Lundholm Gymnasium in Durham, N.H. In a doubleheader at Chase Arena in West Hartford, Conn., #4 Hartford (11-8) hosts #9 Binghamton (4-13) at 2:00 pm ET followed by #5 Albany (6-8) facing #8 NJIT (7-11) at 5:00 pm ET.
Third-seeded New Hampshire (10-8) has a bye into the second round, while #1 UMBC (14-5) and #2 Vermont (10-4) earned double byes into the semifinals.
The semifinals are set for March 6 and the championship game March 13. The higher-seeded team will be at home in each game.
Odds have not been released at the time this preview was published.
2021 America East Tournament Odds
|#3 New Hampshire||TBD|
|#6 UMass Lowell||TBD|
|#7 Stony Brook||TBD|
Odds unavailable as of 12:14 am ET Feb. 26th.
UMBC and Vermont tied for first place in the regular season with 10-4 records. They split a pair of games in Baltimore to end the regular season with Vermont winning the opener 80-71 and UMBC taking the rematch 66-55.
Here it is: the highlights from today’s win over Vermont that clinched the No.1 seed and a share of the America East regular season title. pic.twitter.com/u7Bjzx2nnQ
— UMBC Men’s Basketball (@UMBC_MBB) February 20, 2021
The loss ended Vermont’s seven-game winning streak and cost the Catamounts the #1 seed because of a tiebreaker. UMBC enters the tournament having won four of its last five games.
UMBC is led by junior guard RJ Eytle-Rock, who is averaging 14.1 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.5 assists a game. He is also shooting 47.3%, including 41.2% on 3-point attempts.
RJ Eytle-Rock has been tabbed as an @AmericaEast First Team [email protected] | @AEHoopsNews pic.twitter.com/7q4YzozAy5
— UMBC Men’s Basketball (@UMBC_MBB) February 25, 2021
A 48.4% shooter, senior wing Brandon Horvath have averages of 13.3 points and 8.7 rebounds.
UMBC leads the conference in adjusted defensive efficiency, allowing 100.1 points per 100 possessions in KenPom.com’s metrics.
By KenPom’s calculations, Vermont junior forward Ryan Davis was America East’s top player during the regular season and the Catamounts were the best offensive team with a 106.4 adjusted defensive efficiency.
Davis is averaging 18.8 points and 6.5 rebounds and shooting 57.8% from the field and 41.5% from beyond the arc. He has also committed 18 turnovers in 321 minutes and accounted for 29.0% of the Catamounts’ possessions while on the floor and 35.5% of their possessions.
Vermont’s Ryan Davis has to the the front runner for POY in the @AmericaEast.
6’8 JR is averaging 18.6PPG & 6.5RPG while shooting 57% from the field & 41% from 3PT.
The ILL. natives numbers have jumped dramatically in a year where Vermont needed a steady hand. @UVMmbb @NCAA pic.twitter.com/hIgwhPZ0tU
— Nxt1sColin (@Nxt1sColinBrown) February 23, 2021
Senior guard Stef Smith has a 13.8 scoring average. Another senior guard, Ben Shungu, is having a fine all-round season with averages of 10.6 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.4 assists.
New Hampshire won three of its last four regular-season games to earn the third seed behind the play of junior forwards Nick Guadarrama and Jayden Martinez. They have combined for 27.5 points and 15.0 rebounds a game.
Guadarrama is averaging 13.9 points and 6.5 rebounds while Martinez’s numbers are 13.6 and 8.5.
Jayden Martinez throws down a dunk as the Wildcats beat the full-court press with 20 seconds left if the contest! #BeTheRoar #AEHoops
Watch on ESPN3: https://t.co/EolCNXA6YU pic.twitter.com/JHGE7YMSEc
— UNH Men’s Basketball (@UNHMBB) February 20, 2021
Hartford has been a .500 team since opening the season 5-2 as the Hawks have split their last 12 games. Senior guard Austin Williams (12.3) is one of four players averaging double figures in points with sophomore guard Moses Flowers (11.6), senior guard Traci Carter (10.5) and sophomore forward Miroslav Stafl (10.4).
Carter (2.7) and Flowers (2.1) are combining for 4.8 steals a game.
Stony Brook a Sleeper
At four games under .500, Stony Brook does not have an impressive record.
However, the Seawolves can defend as evidenced by having the fourth-best adjusted efficiency in the America East at 102.0. Senior forward Mouhamadou Gueye is one of the nation’s premier shot blockers with 3.0 rejections a game.
How about Mouhamadou Gueye!
The @StonyBrookMBB junior finds himself earning TWO different #SCTop10 spots! #AEHoops pic.twitter.com/YAPABeMOkW
— #AEHoops (@AEHoopsNews) December 19, 2019
Junior guard Juan Felix Rodriguez is Stony Brook’s leading scorer with a 12.9 average. Sophomore forward Frankie Policelli is second at 10.5.
And the Winner …
As they showed in their series split last week, UMBC and Vermont are evenly matched. However, the Retrievers own home-court advantage throughout the tournament and that figures to loom large.
The lean here is to UMBC in a close call.