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America East Playoffs: Vermont will try to avoid the upset bug

The Catamounts have home court, but that hasn’t meant a ton in the past.

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NCAA Basketball: Vermont at Kansas Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Surprise, surprise, Vermont enters the 2019 America East Playoffs as the top seed and will host as long as it is alive. It is the third straight regular season title for the Catamounts, and they are 45-3 during that span in conference play.

However, John Becker (who will have to find room for another America East Coach of the Year somewhere in his house) has been to just two NCAA Tournaments in his eight seasons in Burlington, and Vermont has been surprisingly vulnerable inside Patrick Gym in postseason play, with home losses in 2013 (Albany), 2015 (Stony Brook), and, of course, 2018 (to some team wearing black and gold from Baltimore that I vaguely remember).

Vermont lost again at home to UMBC (in fact, it got swept by the Retrievers to account for both conference losses), although conference Player of the Year Anthony Lamb did not play. It looked for a while like UMBC might be a potential semifinal opponent, but it ended up third and on the other side of the bracket. Still, that leaves fourth-seeded Hartford and a team full of seniors that won in Patrick Gym and who had the most efficient offense in the America East this season.

Stony Brook’s offense has been inconsistent, but even so, the Seawolves enjoyed a resurgence this season and went 12-4 in the league to grab the No. 2 seed. And they nearly grinded out a win in Burlington last weekend before falling 56-50.

So it won’t be easy for Lamb and the brothers Duncan (Ernie, Everett, and Robin have all been a key part of Vermont’s success this season) to make what would be a deserved return to the NCAA Tournament. But if we know anything about March, deserving’s got nothing to do with it.

How to Watch (all games on campus sites)

Quarterfinals (Sat., March 9)

ESPN+ will stream all games.

Game 1: No. 8 Maine Black Bears at No. 1 Vermont Catamounts, 7 p.m.
Game 2: No. 5 UMass Lowell River Hawks at No. 4 Hartford Hawks, 5 p.m.
Game 3: No. 7 Binghamton at No. 2 Stony Brook Seawolves, 7 p.m.
Game 4: No. 6 Albany Great Danes at No. 3 UMBC Retrievers, 1 p.m.

Quarterfinals (Tues., March 12)

ESPN+ will stream both games.

Game 5: Lowest Seed at Highest Seed, 7 p.m.
Game 6: Second Lowest Seed at Second Highest Seed, 7 p.m.

Championship (Sat., March 16)

Game 7: Semifinal Winners (at highest remaining seed), 11 a.m. (ESPN2)