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2016 America East Conference Tournament preview and predictions

The America East conference tournament looks to be a battle among the top four teams in the league.

This year's America East Championship Tournament is going to be a battle between the top four teams. Will Stony Brook finally break the curse and make it to the NCAA tournament? Will Albany be able to clinch their fourth consecutive title? Can Vermont or New Hampshire beat the odds and make it to the final game or will it be a Cinderella story with one of the lower seeds?

Quarterfinals: March 2, 2016

8 UMBC Retrievers v. 1 Stony Brook Seawolves (7 p.m., ESPN 3)

This is going to be a no-brainer. While UMBC managed to squeeze out a few wins near the end of the season, there seems to be no stopping Stony Brook. With the third time Player of the Year, Jameel Warney, and accompanied by Carson Puriefoy and Rayshaun McGrew, the Seawolves have a solid team. While they are without Bryan Sekunda due to injury, they should coast by the Retrievers.

Winner: Stony Brook

2 Albany Great Danes v. 7 Hartford Hawks (7 p.m., ESPN 3)

The Hawks gave the Danes a good run for their money in the final game of the season, but it wasn't enough to grab the win. Now that both teams have had the chance to scout each other out recently, it's going to be an interesting match up. Boasting the Rookie of the Year and the Sixth Man of the year, Albany's Joe Cremo is going to be a hot hand this game, but if Pancake Thomas can heat up like some of his 30-plus point games, it's going to be a closer game than expected.

Winner: Albany

6 Maine Black Bears v. 3 Vermont Catamounts (7:30 p.m., ESPN 3)

This will be an interesting match up, as the 3 seed v. 6 seed game is almost always a toss up. Out of the past six tournaments, the six seed moved to the semifinals four times. Only in the past two years has the three seed won. This match up is going to be difficult to predict. Maine hasn't been playing their best, coming into the tournament having lost their last eight games. Vermont managed to do the unthinkable and defeat Stony Brook on their senior night in the final game of the season. Maine may put up a fight, but having lost their previous two games against the Catamounts by an average of about 17 points, it doesn't look good.

Winner: Vermont

5 Binghamton Bearcats v. 4 New Hampshire Wildcats (7:30 p.m., ESPN 3)

New Hampshire is coming off of their second consecutive best season ever, so it's hard to stop the momentum. They also boast the only non-senior on the America East First Team All-Conference team in Tanner Leissner. Binghamton has been exploding recently with both Marlon Beck and Willie Rodriguez having consistent double-digit games, but New Hampshire has the advantage of their home court. While they don't always have the biggest crowds during the season, their fans come out in droves for the tournament.

Winner: New Hampshire

Semifinal Predictions

1. Stony Brook Seawolves v. 4 New Hampshire Wildcats (March 7, 7 p.m., ESPN 3)

New Hampshire almost became the first team to beat Stony Brook not too long ago. With a one point deficit, any shot from the floor would have won them the game, but their option for a layup against the likes of Jameel Warney wasn't the best idea. The Wildcats have been through the ringer of a packed Island Federal Credit Union Arena, and they came the closet to winning than any team before them. If New Hampshire can hold on, they stand a chance.

Winner: Stony Brook

2 Albany Great Danes v. 3 Vermont Catamounts (March 7, 7:30 p.m., ESPN 3)

This is a hard match up. Albany and Vermont met a few years ago in the Tournament Title game, where Albany beat Vermont on their home court in Patrick Gymnasium. It might be some wishful thinking on my part, but I think the Catamounts have a chance at defeating the defending champions this year. They both have a decent balance of inside and outside shooters. The only thing that sets Albany apart is their ability to reach the foul line and capitalize on those shots. If Vermont can stay out of foul trouble, they can definitely win the game.

Winner: Vermont

Championship Game

1 Stony Brook Seawolves v. 3 Vermont Catamounts (March 12, 11 a.m., ESPN 2)

It would be an interesting match up for sure. The only team to beat the Seawolves on their home floor, looking for a second shot at doing it. The only thing working against Vermont is their lack of a bench. There have been quite a few games they could have lost simply because their players were tired. Having such a small bench could prove to be a problem in the title game since Stony Brook has multiple options to rely on if needed. Even without Sekunda they have plenty of players who can shoot the three ball. Though both teams have lost the title game on their home courts, the Seawolves do have a track record of choking in the end.

Winner: Vermont