Albany @ Binghamton looms even larger

From a Binghamton standpoint, last night's results made Wednesday night's Bing/Albany Senior Day showdown an even bigger deal.

It was known from the day the schedule came out that Mike Gordon's final home game, against Bing's biggest rival, would have heavy postseason implications. But now, with two weeks to go, Wednesday night's game could determine the number one contender for a Championship showdown with UMBC.

First things first: After an overtime win last night at the RAC, I'm putting the Retrievers in the final. UMBC has just two stumbles this season: one against a Bearcats team that quickly returned to Earth shortly thereafter, and one against ... um, Maine?

The Maine loss, of course, is much more baffling. I'd simply chalk it up to a bad night; every good team loses focus once in a while. You can't win them all, and UMBC just happened to have an off evening against a subpar team. Remember that Ted Woodward and Randy Monroe have coached against each other plenty of times, and a confusing in-conference loss, in a mediocre conference like the AE, is less devastating than a bad out-of-conference loss.

(Of course, it's still a loss to Maine. Ouch.)

The loss to Binghamton is curiously paired with a home win where the Retrievers watched a 20-point lead evaporate in the final minutes. Those two close games perhaps show a soft spot against the Bearcats, and in examining their schedule, one could make the case that the Retrievers, despite their first-place record, are not as dominant as 11-2 would indicate.

But I see it the other way. All nine head coaches in the league describe it as filled with parity, yet one team has separated itself from the pack. Wins and losses are what matter, and even though they might not have been especially convincing triumphs, the Retrievers have repeatedly escaped with W's, both on the road and at home. With strong senior leadership, the Retrievers have clearly demonstrated they know how to win, and so I don't see them stumbling against a lesser team in the tournament's early rounds -- even against an inspired host team.

So what does that mean for Wednesday night?

If Binghamton wins, they'll avoid the 4th or 5th seed and any meeting with the Retrievers before the final, and set up a probable Binghamton/Hartford semi -- as I've mentioned before, a very winnable game. (And for the record: I'm just as confused as everyone else, if not more confused, about this huge four-way tie [actually more like a five-way if you pencil in a Hartford a loss in their season finale against UMBC] -- I know that Hartford's in second place now, and has a tiebreaker over the Bearcats ... and I've got UVM losing at New Hampshire, keeping them out of the two ... but I don't dare make widespread predictions a la Mark Macyk -- at least yet.)

If they lose, the Bearcats will lose all momentum before the tournament, lose any realistic shot they have at running the table, and end up destined to crumble under the Sunday afternoon pressure against the Retrievers at the Events Center -- if they even make it that far. (Although I think if it somehow shakes out that Bing gets another postseason shot at Dennis Wolff, the results will be different this year.)

There's no excuse for the Events Center to not be sold out Wednesday night.

No comments:

ping Bearcat Country www.bearcatcountry.blogger.com