Vermont Aims to Complete Sweep Binghamton Wednesday Night
Quick sidebar – An extra big thank you to everyone who follows FTPL and has shown their support during this on-going website transition. While the project is still a work in progress, there will be a return to content production and oddly enough this game preview comes against the very same team who coincidentally was featured in the last game preview before I had to take a brief hiatus. Let’s all welcome back, the Binghamton Bearcats!
One more sidebar – The content within these posts was becoming too prolonged, so moving forward the game preview and game recaps will be split into two different pieces. Ok, on to Binghamton…
Record: 22-5 (14-1) (1st in AE)
Last Game: 86-59 win over UMBC
Projected Starters: Ben Shungu (Guard), Justin Mazzulla (Guard), Finn Sulivan (Guard), Isaiah Powell (Forward), Ryan Davis (Forward)
What to Watch For: The Catamounts appear to finally be back at full strength, as both Ryan Davis and Finn Sullivan returned to action last Saturday to help Vermont complete their season sweep of UMBC. Having the likes of Davis and Sullivan back in the mix is huge for the Cats, who have now also secured the America East regular season conference title for a sixth straight year. While there are no reports that Davis, Sullivan or any other Catamount could potentially miss any of the three remaining games on the docket, the security of having the number one seed wrapped up could lead to much deserved rest and relaxation for the team’s veteran players.
Vermont absolutely ran Binghamton out of the gym the last time these two teams squared off, cruising to 31-point victory (82-51) at Patrick Gym. 12 different Catamounts saw action in that contest, and it would come as no surprise if that was the case again come Wednesday night. One such player who could benefit greatly with additional floor time is junior (?) guard, Aaron Deloney. The electrifying guard has quietly strung together a pretty remarkable campaign and will likely garner some serious attention for America East Sixth Man of the Year. Deloney paced the Cats with 20 points off the bench against UMBC over the weekend – the third time this season he’s led Vermont out-right in scoring.
Senior guard and unsung hero Justin Mazzulla led the way for the Cats in their previous match-up with Binghamton. Mazzulla finished with just 13 points and 8 rebounds, as it was the depth and balance of Vermont that beset the Bearcats. Five different Catamounts would reach the double-digit scoring mark and three more (Sullivan, Deloney, Gibson) would record 7 points apiece. Expect Coach Becker to once again procure his immense depth, especially if things get out of hand in a hurry.
Record: 11-13 (8-7) (T 2nd in AE)
Last Game: 78-64 win over UMass-Lowell
Projected Starters: Jacob Falko (Guard), Dan Petcash (Guard) Christian Hinckson (Guard), John McGriff (Guard), Taveion White (Forward)
What to Watch For: The Bearcats currently sit tied for second place in the America East with 8-7 conference record. While we all know Vermont is light years ahead of everyone else and has already wrapped up the conference title, there is just a 2.5 game difference between the second and ninth seeds. With just three games left to go, AE playoff seeding is a wide-open race (minus 1st and 10th respectively). Binghamton closes out with Vermont, UNH and UMBC – all three of which they’ve lost to earlier in the year. With the middle-of-pack such a tangled mess, every win holds even more weight. It’s the difference between finishing in the top four and hosting a playoff game or dropping down the ladder and having to play in a hostile environment. Frankly, I don’t have much faith in Binghamton.
Now before any Binghamton fans start huffin and puffin let me just say that I like the Bearcats – well, maybe not quite like, but I am certainly happy to see you’ve finally shed the basement dweller label and could potentially finish with a winning record for the first time since the 2009-10 season. Does Binghamton being competitive this year say more about the strides Coach Sanders has made or is it more of an indication of how mediocre and lackluster the America East has been (outside UVM of course)? The Bearcats have to travel to UNH and UMBC to close out the year and while their 6-6 road record is somewhat competent, I don’t like their chances of finishing this final three-game stretch with a winning record.
As for Wednesday night’s game, I don’t want to hand out L’s before the game has even commenced, though the ink is all but dry. This does have the potential to be a rather peculiar and redundant game. If Vermont sprints out to an early lead, carries momentum into the second and is still pouring it on, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Coach Sanders opt to empty his own bench. Again, Binghamton has two more games on a relatively short schedule, both of which hold far greater importance than Wednesday’s contest against Vermont. Just as Coach Becker may opt to rest some of his veteran players, Coach Sanders could do the same and in doing so, potentially have a better overall unit when it matters most.
Moneyline: Vermont (-900)
Spread: Vermont -13.5
Final Score: Vermont 83 – Binghamton 67