Binghamton 69, @Maine 58

First place into February! Who'dve thunk it?

Binghamton's through the tougher half of its conference schedule at a 6-2 mark, with first place (with the tiebreaker over UMBC, at this point) in its pocket.

The Bearcats closed out a closer-than-it-sounded 9-point victory today with some good loose-ball play from Mike Gordon and Dwayne Jackson in the closing seconds. (That, and Maine's not very good in the clutch.)

Of course, Gordon, Jackson, Lazar Trifunovic, Reggie Fuller, and Kevin Broadus have all played pivotal roles in the team's success this season, but -- and I'm going a bit out on a limb here -- the most important Binghamton University Bearcat, right now, might just be ...

Mark Macyk.

Just hear me out.

Macyk, if you don't know, is Pipe Dream's Sports Editor, the guy in charge of reminding thousands of BU students on Tuesday that the Bearcats are coming out of winter break in first place. He's the guy in charge of previewing Saturday's big rematch with Hartford, a winnable game against a team that squeaked past us on their home court. And he's, more or less, the guy in charge of getting the BU Zoo out in droves for the team's remaining five home regular-season games.

Call me crazy, but I genuinely believe that karma and energy play more of a role in each game than most people believe. The Bearcats have been outstanding at home -- just take a look at the last few minutes of the UMBC game -- but with a rowdy student section and a pumped-up community crowd, Binghamton University's Events Center has the potential to become a truly special arena.

Joel Thirer knew it when the place was built. Lois DeFleur knew it when the place was built. Al Walker knew it when the place was built. But for four long, painfully up-and-down years, the community and the student body could never embrace a team and a coach that they did not really believe in.

Now, things have changed. People believe in Kevin Broadus. People believe in Lazar Trifunovic. And if you don't believe in Mike Gordon by now, you don't know Binghamton basketball.

There's been a sense of trepidation surrounding the Bearcats since January 31, 2004, when Brandon Carter killed Hartford with an unforgettable second half, but the crowd still said, "Ehh ... they're still the Bearcats. They'll blow it. Al will blow it."

First place, new coach, America East tournament coming to Vestal. People believe now. And if they don't believe, Macyk (and Moritz -- sorry, I'm biased toward student support) will make them believe.

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How about that Giovanni Olomo!

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