Maine (11-18) at Albany (21-10)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 9, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: SEFCU Arena (4,538) -- Albany, New York. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: Maine 8-4, Albany 10-4. Away Record: Maine 3-14, Albany 10-5. Neutral Record: Maine 0-0, Albany 1-1. Conference Record: MAine 6-10, Albany 9-7. Series Record: Series is tied, 12-12.
GAMES NOTES: Closing out the first round of the America East Tournament will be a matchup between the fourth-seeded Albany Great Danes and the fifth-seeded Maine Black Bears.
Maine could have very well been a higher seed but with losses in three straight contests the Black Bears had to settle for fifth. The losing streak they are currently in is the third stretch of at least three losses against league foes this season. Maine was just 11-18 overall on the campaign, while 6-10 in league play. If Maine pulls off a miracle run to a tournament title it would be the first in team history.
Albany was a much more impressive team than the Black Bears en route to the fourth seed. The Great Danes were one of just two teams in the conference to earn at least 20 wins overall though they had a bit more trouble against the America East (9-7). Albany is taking aim at its third conference crown and first since 2007.
During the regular season these teams split their two meetings with the home team winning each time. The parity of the season series mirrors that of the all-time series which is tied at 12 wins apiece. Whichever team comes out on top this time will take on the winner of the first round matchup between regular season champ Stony Brook and Binghamton.
Despite big efforts from Justin Edwards (29 points) and Alasdair Fraser (22 points) Maine came up short in a 79-74 setback in the season finale against New Hampshire. The difference in the contest came from beyond the arc where the Bears were outscored, 27-9.
Edwards (16.7 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 3.4 apg) and Fraser (13.7 ppg, 8.2 rpg) have been one of the best scoring tandems in the conference this season. Edwards in fact is tied with Binghamton's Jordan Reed for the conference lead in points while ranking among the top 10 players in assists. Fraser meanwhile, falls into the top five in the conference on the glass while finishing on nearly 50 percent of his shots from the field. Maine is the third best team in the conference in terms of points scored (66.9 pg) and led by Fraser, the second best in rebounds (37.6 ppg). However the Bears also allow opponents to score more than 70 points a contest.
Albany was locked in a tight regular-season finale against conference champion Stony Brook to end the regular season. Mike Black and Jacob Iati each scored a game-high 17 points in the 75-70 decision, but the Great Danes were never able to reclaim a lead after going down 66-65 with 4:02 remaining.
The Danes' answer to Edwards and Fraser is the backcourt duo of Black (15.1 ppg) and Iati (12.2 ppg). Both prefer to score from the perimeter on jump shots which accounts for their less than stellar field-goal percentages. Black is actually one of the five best scorers in the conference and scored in double figures in five of the final six games of the regular season. Sam Rowley (9.1 ppg, 6.3 rpg) is the leading option in the frontcourt. Albany owns a respectable scoring margin this season (+4.3) primarily due to its strong showings on defense, as it holds foes to 61.1 points per game and just 42.4 percent shooting.
The majority of Albany's losses this season came against teams near the top of the America East. Though they split the season series with the Black Bears, the Danes, who are actually hosting this event, will have a big edge.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Albany 68, Maine 60
03/09 10:45:15 ET