Unlike some other conferences, the America East kicks off the season with some competitive contests, and chances to start to make a little northeastern noise.
Or at least answer some burning questions. After all, the America East is a league where even the top tier teams have some real questions, integrating new members to fill in for those who have moved beyond college (and started getting… real?).
On tap tonight:
The First Sixteen Seed To Defeat a One Seed In The NCAA Tournament, aka the UMBC Retrievers, head over to play Marquette (9 PM). Are the Big East’s Golden Eagles in danger? Well, if they play defense as badly as they did last year, it’s possible. The Golden Eagles forced some turnovers, but EVERYONE got to score inside the arc on them, and teams set up lawn chairs at the free throw line, tired of all the shots they got at the charity stripe. The Eagles should be better, and the Retrievers should be worse, but we have some love for Dave Odom’s coaching and Marquette’s need to think differently about defense.
To be fair, Marquette should blast UMBC. The Retrievers lost three point guards in the offseason.
Fun fact: UMBC wanted a game in Wisconsin to honor senior wing Joe Sherburne, who is from Whitefish Bay, WI.
The upset special
Stony Brook faces the George Washington Colonials (7 PM) in a game that looks like it SHOULD be a mismatch — the A-10 against an America East squad that posted a 13-19 record.
But George Washington is young and small. Stony Brook has a pair of newcomers who are seven feet tall and have strong upside. The Seawolves were solid rebounders last season, but couldn’t score at all. They’re a year older. This game bears watching.
These should be wins
The America East should be favored in two contests.
Hartford welcomes Central Connecticut (7 PM), who they hosted the last three years. While Hartford’s experience should net them the win, a decent Hartford side only won by one point in overtime last season, and lost at Central Connecticut three seasons ago. Local/ state rivalries go that way sometimes.
Binghamton hosts Cornell (8 PM) in another local game (Ithaca is an hour away, partly because the roads are two-laners. Never drive up there when the kids are going to college). Binghamton lost to Cornell last season on the road, their eighth straight year of playing the Big Red.
Neither team was very good at defending, though Binghamton’s one saving grace — rebounding — is gone with the departure of Thomas Bruce. So who is going to do the rebounding? And how effective will it be? Can the Bearcats show out well?
These are also basketball games that exist
Like Stony Brook, U Mass Lowell is also taking on an A-10 outfit – the Massachusetts Minutemen (7 PM). The River Hawks have a solid offense but will be sorely tested by the state’s flagship campus school.
Maine travels into the thin air of Denver to take on the Denver Pioneers (9 PM). Maine wants to play a more patient (read: slow, bleed the clock) in Richard Barron’s first season as a head coach on the men’s side (he coached Maine’s women’s teams successfully for some years). Denver likes to play a slower brand of basketball under Rodney Billups as well, and they struggle to force turnovers and hold on to the ball. Still, they shoot the three ball well. Could be competitive. But probably not.
The real excitement comes with New Hampshire playing Rivier University (7 PM).
Nah, that’s not worth talking about.
Not on the marquee
Vermont is idle until Friday, when they host Boston University; Albany takes their injured roster to Westchester to face Iona on Friday as well.
As always, don’t forget to subscribe to our email newsletter below. It’s the only way to survive the impending alien invasion.