Who's UMBC? Hartford and Vermont Destined To Meet In American East Finals

Thursday, March 7, 2019 1:11 PM UTC

Thursday, Mar. 7, 2019 1:11 PM UTC

The American East semifinals take place on Tuesday evening. Expect a low-scoring game between Binghamton and Vermont at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN+ and another Hartford victory over UMBC on 7:30 ET on ESPN+.

 

<p style="text-align:center;"><strong>Binghamton (10-22 SU; 13-16-1 ATS) at Vermont (25-6 SU, 18-10-2 ATS)</strong></p><p style="text-align:center;"><strong>When: 7 p.m. ET (ESPN+)</strong></p><p style="text-align:center;"><strong>Free NCAAB Pick: <a href="https://www.sportsbookreview.com/betting-odds/ncaa-basketball/binghamton-bearcats-vs-vermont-catamounts-3743856/odds/" target="_blank">Under</a></strong></p><p style="text-align:center;"><strong>Best Line Offered: <a href="https://www.sportsbookreview.com/Sportsbook/?v=4446&amp;book=BetOnline" target="_blank">BetOnline</a></strong></p><p>[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":3743856, "sportsbooksIds":[1096,180,139,19,93], "LineTypeId":3, "PeriodTypeId":1}[/]</p><p>During the second half of conference play, Vermont has struggled to maintain a high level of offense. As a result, it's covering fewer games and scoring fewer points. The "under" is 4-1 in its last five games and 6-2 in its last eight. The one "over" came against Hartford. In that game, the Hawks were unstoppable shooting the ball. Propelled by their home crowd, they made 12 threes. In its last "over," Vermont faced one of the worst defenses, based on efficiency, in both the conference and the nation and its best player, Anthony Lamb, took advantage with 34 points, one of his highest scoring outputs in the season.</p><p>Vermont's offensive struggles derive from the improved game-planning of opposing coaches. They have figured out that to stop Vermont means to stop Lamb, so they hit him with double- and even triple-teams. Vermont has yet to figure out a viable solution to this opposing strategy. As good as Lamb is, he can't be as successful when the opposing defense focuses on him. He has failed to reach 20 points in three of his last five games whereas he had scored at least 20 in five straight games before.</p><p>The Catamounts struggle to create for other players on offense. The ball tends to not move much. They don't do much else than run the high screen and are more predictable and easier to guard. Besides Ernie Duncan, who has laid some clunkers in conference play but is typically good for somewhere between 10 and 20 points, the Catamounts lack another reliable scorer. Against Binghamton's 2-3 zone, it is crucial for them to find reliable shooters. Let's look at the starters besides Duncan and Lamb. Stef Smith has one game in his last nine in which he's made more than one three. Both of his games against Binghamton were awful because he prefers to drive and draw contact than shoot. Everett Duncan has gone seven straight games without making multiple threes. Isaiah Moll can hardly drive the ball without turning it over.</p><p>They have already shown the tendency to settle for jump shots, especially lately and with a sizable lead, which they should have no problem building against heavily dogged Binghamton. The Bearcats allow a well above average rate of three-point attempts and will goad them into shooting a lot of bricks.</p><p>Defensively, the Catamounts are the best in the conference in terms of efficiency. Even when they played very sloppy in their last game at Binghamton, which was their third straight road game, they only allowed 63 points. They are fresher, so I expect them to hold Binghamton closer to the 50-point mark that they allowed in their first meeting. The Bearcats live and die with point guard Sam Sessoms who easily leads the team in percentage of possessions involved in, of minutes, and of shots taken. Both of his games against Vermont were horrible in terms of points scored and assist-to-turnover ratio. The Catamounts boast feisty defenders who make opponents uncomfortable, keep them out of rhythm, and force them to make mistakes. Binghamton will struggle to score without his creativity and shooting.</p><p>[/]{"component": "embedHTML", "code": "&lt;iframe width=\"560\" height=\"315\" src=\"https://www.youtube.com/embed/r2OtH0_qZLs\" frameborder=\"0\" allow=\"accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture\" allowfullscreen&gt;&lt;/iframe&gt;"}[/]</p><p> </p><p style="text-align:center;"><strong>Hartford (18-14 SU, 16-15 ATS) at UMBC (20-12 SU, 14-16 ATS)</strong></p><p style="text-align:center;"><strong>When: 7:30 p.m. ET (ESPN+)</strong></p><p style="text-align:center;"><strong>Free NCAAB Pick: <a href="https://www.sportsbookreview.com/betting-odds/ncaa-basketball/hartford-hawks-vs-umbc-retrievers-3743855/odds/" target="_blank">Hawks ATS</a></strong></p><p style="text-align:center;"><strong>Best Line Offered: <a href="https://www.sportsbookreview.com/Sportsbook/?v=4446&amp;book=BetOnline" target="_blank">BetOnline</a></strong></p><p>[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":3743855, "sportsbooksIds":[1096,19,180,139,93], "LineTypeId":3, "PeriodTypeId":1}[/]</p><p>UMBC survived its tournament opener against Albany, which was disadvantaged with the poor play of point guard Ahmad Clark. Clark is wild, as evidenced by his high turnover rate, and he doesn't organize the offense well. Hartford, though, has the conference's best point guard in JR Lynch. Lynch rates top-12 in the conference in both assist rate and turnover rate. He's also a superbly efficient shooter and he excels at finishing at the rim while drawing contact. This versatility means that he will punish defenders both for guarding him too closely--because he can blow by them and finish--or for sagging to minimize the passing lanes--because he can shoot. In two regular season games against UMBC, he scored combined 44 points and accrued nearly a two-to-one assist-to-turnover ratio.</p><p>Lynch is just one reason why Hartford beat UMBC twice in the regular season. Hartford's starting lineup is filled with good shooters. UMBC's defense allows them ample opportunity to thrive because they don't guard the perimeter well, allowing one of the nation's highest rate of three-point attempts. Lynch is converting 52% of his threes in conference play. Travis Weatherington isn't far behind him in three-point efficiency. As a team, Hartford ranks first in the American East in three-point efficiency, making 40%.</p><p>Defensively, UMBC's interior has suffered attrition with the injuries of Max Curran, its third-best shot-blocker, and Daniel Akin. Its top two shot-blockers barely play because of their offensive limitations. UMBC already has one of the weaker interior defenses based on opposing two-point percentage and will struggle to limit center George Blagojevic, who can post and drive far from the basket and boasts a nice spin move, for instance, to finish in front of the rim. Blago, like Lynch, owned the paint in their first two meetings and will do so again.</p><p>The Golden Retrievers lack the weapons to keep up with Hartford. UMBC has suffered a serious downgrade in point guard with the departure of KJ Maura. KJ Jackson is not careful with the ball, consistently turning it over three or four times per game, and he isn't as creative. UMBC is also much different from last year because it lost many good shooters. Defenders pay extra attention to Joe Sherburne and no other starter averages at least 31% from three.</p><p> </p>
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