When you're playing the way the Catamounts are, it might be difficult to remember the last time you lost. Or maybe not. It was less than a month ago (January 18th) that Maine came to Burlington and pounded Vermont, 72-58. Since that game, Maine is 3-4. Since that game, Vermont is 9-0.
Maine did a number of things that game that they haven't been doing much of lately -- namely, they played defense. Over their four game losing streak, the Black Bears have given up nearly 80 points a game. The Cats have to like their chances against this deflated Maine team; they are playing a lot better, while Maine is playing a lot worse. Vermont has the outright conference title to play for, while Maine must be feeling pressure to not drop even more spots in the standings (they are currently sitting in third place).
Is there anyone better than Coach Lonergan to explain what went wrong the last time these two teams matched up? Nope, so here that is:
So there you have it. They didn't do much right. Carissimo has grown up a lot since that game and Voelkel has emerged as an even more reliable distributor. Fjeld missed some bunnies that he will hopefully make this time around. Another thing Coach Lonergan did not mention is that Luke Apfeld did a heck of a job guarding Troy Barnies, but fouled out in only 15 minutes of playing time. With Apfeld out of the game, Barnies easily put up the numbers that Maine fans are accustomed to (14 points, 9 rebounds). Expect to see Apfeld on the interior being physical with Barnies. Hopefully the touch fouls are not being called this time around.
This is obviously a very important game for Vermont. You have to anticipate Boston University will win its next two games, meaning if Vermont loses, the BU matchup at the end of the season will be for all the marbles. And though it is in Burlington, it would be nice to wrap up the top seed before February 27th.