NCAA: No. 15 Albany vs. No. 2 Duke
Duke by the numbers:
- 27-5 record (14-4 ACC)
- No. 2 in the current AP and USA Today polls
- No. 1 in RPI, No. 3 in BPI
- 6th in points per game at 78.3
- Mason Plumlee (Sr., F): 17.2 ppg, 10.2 rpg, 1.5 bpg, 59.2 FG%
- Seth Curry (Sr., G): 17.0 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 46.3 FG%, 43.0 3FG%
- Ryan Kelly (Sr., F): 14.3 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 48.0 FG%, 48.6 3FG%
- Good Wins: vs. Louisville (76-71); vs. Ohio State (73-68); vs. Miami (79-76)
- Bad Losses: @ Maryland (83-81); @ Virginia (73-68); vs. Maryland (83-74)
- 15 Final Fours
- Four National Championships ('91, '92, '01, '10)
Let's take a look at the Blue Devils most recent loss -- versus Maryland in the ACC Tournament -- as a template. The Terrapins handed Duke its only loss in a non-"true" road game, as Coach K's crew was 22-1 in home and neutral site games this year. Two things stood out in this win, the first being Dez Wells ridiculous 30 point showing. The second was holding Duke to four of 25 shooting from beyond the arc.
Albany has the ingredients to at least throw the Blue Devils a curveball, much like the Danes did to UConn in 2006. Gary Johnson has emerged as a defensive stopper for this team and may be able to help slow down Seth Curry. Albany also has size -- most notably John Puk and Sam Rowley -- to throw at Mason Plumlee inside. The toughest matchup will be trying to stop Ryan Kelly. The big man stretches the defense with his shooting range and can help open up the paint for Plumlee and for driving guards Quinn Cook and Rasheed Sulaimon.
Mike Black will be a huge key in this game. Duke has been hurt in recent years by quick guards who can get in the paint (Eric Maynor from VCU, C.J. McCollum from Lehigh). If Black has a big day Albany could make it interesting.
NIT: No. 7 Stony Brook at No. 2 UMass
- 21-11 record (9-7 Atlantic 10)
- 6th in the A10 standings
- No. 56 in RPI, No. 79 in BPI
- 43rd in points per game at 73.4
The Main Minutemen:
- Chaz Williams (Jr., G): 15.9 ppg, 7.4 apg, 4.3 rpg, 2.1 spg
- Terrell Vinson (Sr., F): 12.3 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 1.3 apg, 46.7 FG%
- Cady Lalanne (So., F/C): 8.5 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 1.4 bpg, 55.9 FG%
- Good Wins: vs. Temple (79-74); @ Xavier 77-72
- Bad Losses: @ St. Bonaventure (99-94)
- One NCAA Final Four; two Elite Eights; three Sweet Sixteens
- NIT Final Four last season
What Stony Brook has to do:
First of all expect this to be an excellent matchup. Say what you will about the accuracy of the BPI ranking system, but UMass and Stony Brook are 79 and 80 respectively. The Minutemen are 8-2 versus teams that rank 51-100 in the BPI rankings, so Stony Brook will still enter as an underdog.
The Seawolves do a good job of creating turnovers and that's something that UMass has had trouble with at times this season. With two rock solid guards to turn to in Anthony Jackson and Carson Puriefoy, Stony Brook will look to play the same style of in your face defense as always. Dave Coley will likely matchup on Chaz Williams, who will get his shots up. Williams has the most field goal attempts of anyone on his team by 30.
Stony Brook has only lost twice this year when scoring 65 or more points. If it can get the offense back on track headed into the NIT, there's no reason the Seawolves can't advance.
CBI: Vermont at Santa Clara
Santa Clara by the numbers:
- 21-11 record (9-7 West Coast Conference)
- 4th in WCC standings
- No. 100 in RPI, No. 86 in BPI
- 41st in points per game with 73.6
- Kevin Foster (Sr., G): 17.9 ppg, 4.4 apg, 2.8 rpg, 2.3 spg, 38.5 FG%
- Marc Trasolini (Sr., F): 15.6 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 1.5 bpg, 54.4 FG%
- Evan Roquemore (Jr., G): 11.8 ppg, 5.3 apg, 3.2 rpg, 42.9 FG%
- Good Wins: @ Saint Louis (74-62); @ Pacific (75-71)
- Bad Losses: vs. Loyola Marymount (60-58); @ Loyola Marymount (84-80)
- 1 NCAA Sweet Sixteen; 3-10 NCAA record
- CIT Champions 2011
What Vermont has to do;
Vermont typically likes to play a slow, deliberate brand of basketball that leads to low scoring games. So you might not think they could play well against a team that averages just over 73 points per game. However, in the four games this season in which the Catamounts allowed 73 or more points, they are 3-1. One common factor in two of those wins was a Vermont guard going off. Sandro Carissimo had 25 in an 85-78 win over Harvard, while Candon Rusin had 25 in an 81-73 victory over Stony Brook. Ethan O'Day led with 22 in the other game, an 87-79 win over Canisius.
If the Vermont guards (Rusin, Carissimo, Trey Blue) can find the stroke from outside this is a very winnable game. O'Day, who had several big games down the stretch, is also a key. But the big question is how will Vermont deal with the superb play of Santa Clara's senior guard Kevin Foster? Keeping him in check will be essential.
CIT: Rider at Hartford
Rider by the numbers:
- 18-14 record (12-6 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference)
- 3rd in MAAC standings
- No. 146 in RPI, No. 172 in BPI
- 1st in MAAC 3-point FG defense at 29.6%
- Jonathan Thompson (Sr., G): 12.8 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 3.1 apg, 49.3 FG%
- Anthony Myles (Jr., G): 12.1 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.7 apg, 37.3 FG%
- Daniel Stewart (Jr., F): 10.8 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 0.7 bpg, 47.9 FG%
- Good Wins: vs. Iona (67-62); vs. Charleston Southern (61-54)
- Bad Losses: @ Southern Methodist (83-70)
- 0-3 all-time in NCAA Tournament play
What Hartford needs to do:
This game is like any other for Hartford, in that it needs to make three's. Rider allowed just 5.3 triples per game at a MAAC best 29.6 opponents' shooting percentage. On the flip side Hartford averaged 7.8 makes from beyond the arc this year, good for second in the America East. In the Hawks' quarterfinal loss to UMBC, they got to seven three-point makes, but needed 28 attempts to get there. If they can be more efficient from distance they should have a good chance.
Another key to the game will be Mark Nwakamma. Undoubtedly one of the best players in the conference this season, Nwakamma got in foul trouble and made an early exit in the loss to UMBC. Hartford will need a steady performance from its best player.
Loyola by the numbers:
- 21-11 record (12-6 MAAC)
- 2nd in MAAC standings
- No. 98 in RPI, No. 129 in BPI
- 1st in MAAC in offensive rebounds (12.7/g) and blocked shots (4.4/g)
- Dylan Cormier (Jr., G): 16.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 2.5 apg, 1.9 spg
- Erik Etherly (Sr., F): 15.9 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 1.5 spg, 44.1 FG%
- Robert Olson (Sr., G): 12.8 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 2.2 apg, 1.1 spg
- Good Wins: vs. Norfolk St. (65-49); vs. Albany (67-64)
- Bad Losses: vs. Manhattan (55-52)
- 0-2 all-time in NCAA Tournament play
What Boston U. needs to do:
One area that the Terriers have struggled a bit this year is on the glass. For Loyola, interior play is a big strong point. Boston U. will need a big day from Dom Morris to help balance the scale. Another big challenge will be containing Cormier, the seventh leading scorer in the MAAC. But Boston U. boasts some excellent guard play of its own with D.J. Irving and America East all-rookie selections Maurice Watson Jr. and John Papale.
The Terriers will continue to hoist the attempts from beyond the arc, so if they make their shots look for a win. But this Loyola team, fresh off an NCAA appearance last season, won't make things easy.
In case you missed any of the great media links from America East Championship weekend, yesterday's blog post has you covered.
Check out the Boston.com New England College Baller Showdown, which contains several former America East standouts.
Former Stony Brook volleyball standout Alicia Nelson talks about living and playing in Europe.
If you haven't seen them yet, check out the full brackets for the NCAA Tournament, the NIT, the CBI and the CIT.