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2015-16 America East Preview: UMass Lowell, UMBC, Maine at the Bottom

The bottom three of the America East conference may not have a shot at the title, but they do have the advantage of being underdogs and surprising us all. There's always room for improvement, and that's exactly what these teams are going to do.

7. UMass Lowell River Hawks: 12-17 (6-10)

For their first official season as a newly appointed division 1 team, the Riverhawks have possibly the hardest nonconference schedule of the America East conference. Touting matches against Notre Dame, UConn, Rutgers, NJIT and Boston University, just to name a few, they are going to have the chance to prove themselves among the rest of the conference.

With their first official season where they can contend for the conference title, Lowell just might surprise a lot of people. They may only have four seniors in this year's class, but this is their first and only chance to make it to the NCAA tournament. With Jahad Thomas (14.3 ppg) and Lance Crawford (9.7 ppg) leading the way only as sophomores, they definitely have a chance at improvement. Will their drive to give this year's senior class a first tournament win be enough to carry them through the season?

Key Players: Jahad Thomas, Lance Crawford

8. UMBC Retrievers 4-26 (2-14) Lost AE Quarterfinals

UMBC was plagued with injuries and bad luck that left them with a bad season. If you can count the amount of wins on one hand, you're gonna have a bad time.

This year the Retrievers will get Rodney Elliot back on the roster. He was the star of the team his freshman year, leading the rest of the freshman at 15 ppg. He was the second UMBC player and the only America East contender to record 400 points (451), 100 rebounds (118) and 100 assists (108) in the season. With him back on the court, with the help of their lone senior, Cody Joyce, hopefully there will be a grounding point and leader to help UMBC out of their slump.

Key Players: Rodney Elliot, Cody Joyce

9.  Maine Black Bears: 3-27 (2-14) Lost AE Quarterfinals

Maine had the worst season last year. With only three wins the entire season, that's enough to break anyone's spirit. The only thing going for them is that they managed a nonconference win. The last team to go through the entirety of the nonconference season without a win was Hartford back in 2011. Their squad went 0-13 before recording their first win. So at least they have that going for them.

The good thing about this season is that they can only go up from here. Till Glogger, a senior forward, recorded 11.5 ppg last year. Add that to sophomore Kevin Little who brought in 12.5 ppg, they have a good balance of talent spread out. With an army of underclassman, they have a lot to work with, making anything possible.

Key Players: Kevin Little, Cody Joyce