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2014 America East Tournament Preview: Can Stony Brook finally get past Vermont?

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For years, the America East was dominated by the trio of Vermont, Albany and Boston U. With the Terriers taking off for the Patriot League during trickle-down realignment, that left the door open for UVM to take control of the conference, and they did, posting a 15-1 league record and steam-rolling to their eighth league title since 2002.

But a new power has emerged over the last five seasons in the conference, as Stony Brook finished second of better in the regular season standings for the fourth time in the past five seasons. With three regular season titles under his belt, is this the year that head coach Steve Pikiell is finally able to get his team over the hump and into the NCAA tournament?

(MORE: Browse through all of our conference tournament previews)

The Bracket

When: March 8-9, March 15

Where: Quarterfinals and semifinals held at SEFCU Arena in Albany, finals held on campus of highest remaining seed

Final: March 15, 11:30 a.m. ESPN2

Favorite: Vermont

The Cats have been a powerhouse in the America East for more than a decade now, having won five NCAA tournament bids since 2003 with this being their eighth league title since 2002. This year’s team is senior-laden and battle tested, led by Clancy Rugg, Brian Voelkel, and Sandro Carissimo. The Cats have won 18 of their last 19 games, with the lone loss coming at Stony Brook.

And if they lose?: Stony Brook

Stony Brook is looking to finally get over the hump. They’ve won at least a share of the league’s regular season title three of the past five seasons but have yet to make an NCAA tournament. This year’s group is talented as any that Steve Pikiel has had, but all three of their conference losses have come in the last five weeks.


  • Albany: The Great Danes get a break in that the first two rounds will be played in their home arena. That means that if they can get past UMBC in the quarters, they will likely host league champ Vermont in the semis.
  • Hartford: The Hawks finished third in the conference standings, having won six of their last seven games entering the postseason.


  • Jameel Warney, Stony Brook: The sophomore forward averaged 14.9 points and 7.9 boards this season, which included a game where he went for 32 points and 21 boards.
  • Clancy Rugg, Vermont: UVM’s 6-foot-8 senior ended the season averaging 13.1 points and 6.1 boards.
  • Mark Nwakamma, Hartford: A 6-foot-6 junior from Texas, Nwakamma averaged 15.1 points this season.

CBT Prediction: Stony Brook over Vermont

POSTERIZED: Jaylen Brown throws down hard in transition

Albert Almanza, Jaylen Brown, Jalin Barnes
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Jaylen Brown is a top five player in the Class of 2015 and a kid projected as a top ten pick in the 2016 NBA Draft.


Because he does things like this:

He also did this:

LATE NIGHT SNACKS: Denzel Valentine, the nation’s best player?

Denzel Valentine
AP Photo/Alex Gallardo
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(This will be updated throughout the day.)

GAME OF THE DAY: Syracuse 74, No. 25 Texas A&M 67

The Orange got 20 points from Michael Gbinije and 15 points and five assists from Trevor Cooney as they won the Battle 4 Atlantis title on Friday afternoon. We wrote on this game earlier. Are the Orange for real this year?


Denzel Valentine, Michigan State: 32 points, nine boards, six assists

No. 3 Michigan State beat Boise State 77-67 in the semifinals of the Wooden Legacy out in California, but the result of that game is less important than the result of Valentine’s night. A night after notching his second triple-double of the season, Valentine took over another way on Friday, hitting five straight threes in the span of about five minutes to put the Spartans up double-figures in a game they were struggling to take control of.

In three games against high-major competition, Valentine is now averaging 30.0 points, 10.7 boards and 9.3 assists. He has been, unequivocally, the best player in college basketball this season.

No. 10 Gonzaga 73, No. 17 UConn 70: Eric McClellan and Kyle Dranginis made some big plays down the stretch as the Bulldogs held on to win a game they led by as much as 21 in the second half. Kyle Wiltjer scored a team-best 17 points for Gonzaga, which finished third at the Battle 4 Atlantis. Rob Dauster wrote more about the Bulldogs and their second-half performance here.

Alabama 64, No. 20 Wichita State 60: While the Shockers’ losses to USC and Alabama don’t help them from an NCAA tournament standpoint, the bigger issue is the team’s health.

No. 17 Notre Dame 68, Iowa 62: The Fighting Irish blew a 15-point second half lead, but the comeback gassed the Hawkeyes, as Notre Dame was able to pull away down the stretch. V.J. Beachem led the way with 16 points.


Quincy Ford, Northeastern: Not only did he score 24 points in the upset win over No. 15 Miami, but he hit the game-winning jumper, too. Video here.

Cat Barber, N.C. State: Barber notched a career-high 37 points to go along with eight assists as the Wolfpack fought off a scrappy Winthrop team, 87-79. He wasn’t the best scorer on the floor, though …

Jimmy Gavin, Winthrop: Gavin finished with 38 points. Off the bench. The most incredible part? He was 5-foot-4, 90 pounds as a sophomore due to Crohn’s Disease.

John Egbunu, Florida: Egbunu finished with 17 points, 11 boards and four blocks as the Gators knocked off FGCU, 70-50. Dorian Finney-Smith added 23 points for Florida.


Wichita State’s bigs: Five of them (Anton Grady, Zach Brown, Rashard Kelly, Bush Wakumota, Eric Hamilton) finished a combined 3-for-21 from the floor with 14 points and 14 fouls. Wakumota shot one of the worst threes you’ll ever see with Wichita State down 62-60 with 10 seconds left.

Grady suffered a scary neck injury late in the game, but early reports sound positive.


  • Jamal Murray went for 21 points and three assists without a turnover at No. 1 Kentucky rolled over South Florida. The big question: How bad is Tyler Ulis’ elbow injury?
  • Jalen Brunson and Josh Hart both had 13 points as No. 8 Villanova knocked off Georgia Tech to win the Preseason NIT, 69-52.
  • No. 23 Xavier raced out of the gates against USC and led by as much as 32, going on to win 87-77 in Orlando. Trevon Bluiett led four Musketeers in double figures with 16 points and James Farr added 12 to go along with nine rebounds off the bench.
  • Troy Caupain had 17 points and Octavious Ellis added 12 points and nine boards (seven offensive) as No. 24 Cincinnati outlasted Nebraska, 65-61, at the Barclays Center.


  • Stanford finished third at the Preseason NIT with a 69-66 win over Arkansas, closing the game on a stunning 21-1 run. Rosco Allen scored eight of his career-high 25 points during that run, and Marcus Allen’s goal-tended layup with 2.6 seconds remaining gave the Cardinal the lead for good.
  • Taurean Waller-Prince had 25 points to lead Baylor to a win over Arkansas State.
  • Joey King’s 18 points paced five players in double-figures for Minnesota as they knocked off Omaha, 93-90.
  • Caris LeVert had 19 points and Derrick Walton added 13 points and seven assists as the Wolverines beat Texas in the fifth-place game in the Battle 4 Atlantis.