The last time a No. 1 seed in the America East Tournament punched its ticket to the NCAA tournament was 2009. Albany, which cruised through league play at 15-1, looks to end that trend and reach the program’s third consecutive NCAA tournament. Standing in the way of the Great Danes is Stony Brook, the only team to beat them in America East play. The Seawolves have failed to get over the conference tournament hump, losing in three of the last four America East title games.
The tournament format has changed for the America East this spring. All games will be played on the higher seed’s court.
Where: Campus sites (higher seed)
Final: March 14, 11 a.m. (ESPN2)
A three-point loss to Stony Brook on Feb. 17 is the only thing that kept the Great Danes from running the table in conference play. Albany has three players scoring in double figures — Sam Rowley, Peter Hooley and Evan Singletary. The Great Danes will also have home court for as long as they are in the tournament.
And if they lose?: Stony Brook
Could this be the year the Seawolves go dancing? Stony Brook lost to Albany in the finals last year and serve as the chief competition to the Great Danes again this March. The Seawolves have two talented juniors in Jameel Warney, who averaged a double-double this season and Carson Puriefoy.
- Vermont: The Catamounts are the conference’s most efficient defense and have defeated Stony Brook twice. They also played Albany tight in both meetings, losing both games by a combined nine points.
- New Hampshire: A young roster has played well as of late, winning four out of five games to close out the regular season. Like Vermont, New Hampshire has given Albany a scare twice this season.
Player of the Year: Jameel Warney, Stony Brook
The 6-foot-8 forward averaged 16.3 points, 11.4 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game, tops in the American East in each category. The nation’s fifth leading rebounder has the Seawolves in second-place, once again eyeing that elusive automatic NCAA tournament bid.
Coach of the Year: Will Brown, Albany
For the fourth time in his career at Albany, Will Brown led the Great Danes to a 20-win season. He had the league’s most efficient offense and third-most efficient defense, according to kenpom. The Great Danes also posted a 15-1 America East record with eight of those wins coming with Peter Hooley out of the lineup.
All-America East team:
- Sam Rowley, Albany: The league’s second leading scorer at 14.3 points also grabbed 7.7 rebounds per game, recording eight double-doubles on the year.
- Carson Puriefoy, Stony Brook: The junior guard was top-5 in scoring (13.9) and assists (3.4) for second-place Stony Brook.
- Ethan O’Day, Vermont: The 6-foot-9 forward averaged 11.9 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game, shooting 57 percent from the field.
- Cody Joyce, UMBC: Scored in double figures in 15 of 16 conference games. Averaged 13.5 points and 5.7 boards per game.