BInghamton pounded UMBC 91-65 on Thursday night, meaning the Bearcats move on to play Vermont in the quarterfinals on Saturday. The game should tip off around 2:15 ET in Hartford.
The matchup is slightly scary for the banged-up Cats: they beat Binghamton by 18 on the road earlier in the year, but later in the season, Binghamton played them tight in Burlington before falling 60-51. Brendan Bald is a go for Saturday's game, while Evan Fjeld is a game-time decision. Both players suffered ankle injuries toward the end of last week. Basically, this means that Vermont can't go on cruise control versus BInghamton. They need to show up and play as hard as they have played all year.
Vermont will be hoping that they can defend the perimeter better than UMBC was able to against the Bearcats: Binghamton shot a scorching 17-32 from three-point range. And that's not a typo. Greer Wright had 31 points for Binghamton on 5-10 shooting from distance. Not to be outdone, fellow senior Moussa Camara went 8-14 from deep, totaling 30 points in all. While Bald is probably UVM's best perimeter defender, you wonder how much mobility he will have coming back from the aforementioned ankle injury. Vermont will have to find some way to stymie the hot-hands of Camara and Wright.
If Fjeld is unable to play, freshman Luke Apfeld might step into the starting lineup, or perhaps senior Garrett Kissel. Either way, Vermont is going to need a big night from the big men who are matched up down low with Mahamoud Jabbi. And when you're potentially replacing Evan Fjeld, those are some big shoes to fill.
So it begins, the America East Championship. One game at a time.