FTS Tourney Time: Men’s Basketball

In the world of collegiate athletics, the month of March is synonymous with just one word…MADNESS!!!  This weekend, the madness begins in earnest, as the “big three” UMaine winter sports teams embark on their quest to conquer their conference foes and earn automatic qualification into their respective NCAA tournaments by winning their conference championship.

Today, we continue our three part “FTS Tourney Time” series with our official preview of the UMaine men’s basketball team’s America East quarterfinal clash with the Stony Brook Seawolves, which will take place on Saturday evening in Albany.

Yesterday we summed up the women’s hoops team’s 2013-14 season using the word “turnaround”.  The men’s season, on the other hand, can be described with the words “turn around”, as in, “turn around and look away”.  Yes, folks, it’s been ugly.  At times, it’s been very ugly.  But we’re not going to dwell too much in this column on how bad the team has looked at times during the year and how Coach Ted Woodward should do what’s best for the university and resign his position.  We’ve done that enough over the last six weeks here, here and here.

Instead, we’re going to use this space to assess Maine’s odds of beating Stony Brook on Saturday and advancing to the America East semifinals for the first time since 2005, Woodward’s first as head coach.  And, after careful consideration, we’ve set those odds at “not too good”.

Our heroes enter Saturday’s match-up with the Seawolves having lost 6 of their last 7 games, with the lone victory coming in last Sunday’s regular season finale against UNH, the only team to be seeded lower than the #7 Black Bears in the conference tournament.  Maine’s 4-12 conference record and 6-22 overall record are dwarfed by #2 seed Stony Brook’s 13-3 and 21-9 marks in those respective categories.

Head-to-head, the numbers don’t get any better for Maine.  True, the Black Bears were very competitive in an 83-79 loss to the Seawolves at the Cross Center in Bangor on February 23, however they were still swept in the season series, losing by 18 points on Stony Brook’s home floor back on January 26.  Perhaps the most concerning statistic from those two matchups is the rebounding total.  Between the two games, Stony Brook outrebounded Maine 78-58, including a 22-11 advantage on the offensive glass.  If Maine is unable to prevent the Seawolves from gaining second- and third-chance opportunities to score, it’ll surely be a long night (and a quick tournament exit) for the Black Bears.

While we fully expect our student-athletes to represent Maine with pride and play with maximum effort, it won’t be enough to pull out a victory on Saturday.  Stony Brook 72, Maine 58 is how we see it shaking out in Albany. 

From there, let Karlton Creech’s evaluation of the program begin…

How do you think the Maine men will fare on Saturday?  Are we being too hard on Ted Woodward?  Tell what you think in the comments section below and join the conversation on Twitter using #FTSTourneyTime!

Be sure to come back Friday for part three of our “FTS Tourney Time” series.  We’ll be previewing the Main(e) Event of the weekend, hockey’s Saturday night showdown with Merrimack at the Alfond.

Photo courtesy: www.goblackbears.com

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