With Vermont topping the America East standings and proudly claiming the 1 seed in the conference tournament, the rest of the seeding is a giant mess.
While the Catamounts are the clear favorite for another trip to the NCAA Tournament, UMBC and Hartford both stand in their way. UMBC finished third in the preseason coaches poll, but snagged the 2 seed in the tournament. More surprisingly, Hartford was picked to finished eighth out of nine teams, but managed to rise through the standings to the 3 seed.
Albany and Stony Brook are the 4 and 5 seeds respectively. Out of all of the matchups for the quarterfinals, this is going to be the most exciting. They both have had the taste of the Big Dance and want to make it back.
The bottom of the field is New Hampshire, UMass Lowell, and Maine in the 6, 7, and 8 spots respectively. Now that there are nine teams that qualify for the tournament, only the top eight make it to the quarterfinals. This means Binghamton’s season has already come to an end.
The tournament will re-seed after each round so that the highest remaining seed plays the lowest remaining seed. This means a traditional bracket isn’t exactly applicable. All games will be played on the campus of the higher seed. Here are the first-round matchups:
How to Watch:
Quarterfinals: March 3 (ESPN3)
1 p.m.: No. 7 UMass Lowell at No. 2 UMBC
4 p.m.: No. 6 New Hampshire at No. 3 Hartford
7 p.m.: No. 8 Maine at No. 1 Vermont
7 p.m.: No. 5 Stony Brook at No. 4 Albany
Semifinals: March 6 (ESPN3)
7 p.m.: Lowest Remaining Seed at Highest Remaining Seed
7:30 p.m.: Second-Lowest Remaining Seed at Second-Highest Remaining Seed
Championship Game: March 10 (ESPN2)
11 a.m.: Semifinal Winners
Vermont will most likely win, but it won’t be an easy battle. UMBC and Hartford will both be nuisances. Hartford is the only of the three that hasn’t made the NCAA Tournament, and is currently having the best season in school history. Making its first appearance in the Big Dance would be a nice cherry on top. But if Vermont can continue its solid performance for the next three games, the Catamounts should repeat.