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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.

Sleepers:

  • 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.

Studs:

  • 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

Michigan gets Caris LeVert back in a win over No. 18 Purdue

Purdue forward Caleb Swanigan (50) tries to steal the ball from Michigan guard Caris LeVert (23) in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at Crisler Center in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Tony Ding)
(AP Photo/Tony Ding)
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Zak Irvin scored 22 points and Michigan’s outmanned front line held Purdue’s redwoods to just seven offensive boards, six second chance points and just 22 points in the paint as the Wolverines landed a critical, 61-56, win over the No. 18 Boilermakers.

Depending on who you listen to, Michigan entered the day, at worst, on the bubble and at best, in headed for the 8-9 game.

And they picked up a top 25 win.

So yes, this win was big for them moving forward.

But more important than the win itself was that Wolverine fans got a glimpse of all-american guard Caris LeVert. He played just 11 points and didn’t return in the second half, he didn’t score and he missed the only shot that he took, but LeVert took the court for the first time since Dec. 30th. That day, LeVert rolled his left ankle and most likely reinjured a foot that had had a broken bone surgically repaired twice in the last 20 months. Michigan never confirmed what the actual injury was and never gave a timetable for when he would be back in the lineup, which is what made his brief appearance so important.

LeVert isn’t done for the season.

And since the Wolverines managed to post a 9-4 Big Ten record with LeVert acting as little more than a spectator, they have a chance to make a run in the Big Ten tournament and get into the NCAA tournament.

That will happen with LeVert in the rotation and, if all goes according to plan, the starting lineup.

So even with a loss against Purdue, the Wolverines had a good day. Bolstering their NCAA tournament profile was an added bonus.

VIDEO: Memphis’ Shaq Goodwin gets technical foul for copying famous Vince Carter dunk

Memphis forward Shaq Goodwin (2) shoots over Cincinnati forward Quadri Moore (0) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
(AP Photo/Gary Landers)
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Memphis senior forward Shaq Goodwin picked up one of the dumbest technical fouls of the season on Saturday with the Tigers on the road against Tulane. Goodwin attempted to copy Vince Carter’s famous arm-in-the-rim dunk from the 2000 NBA dunk contest. This would have been okay during pregame warmups, but Goodwin tried to pull this off on a breakaway near the end of the first half. He was quickly hit with the T for hanging on the rim.

Goodwin has good timing when it comes to current events, as the NBA’s dunk contest airs on Saturday night, but the timing of pulling this off in the first half of a tight conference game is not so great.

For past reference, here’s Carter’s original arm-in-the-rim dunk from 2000, which had everyone astonished since it had never been done before.

(H/T: The Cauldron)