The America East tournament kicks off on Thursday night in Hartfort, CT with the 8/9 game featuring UMBC and Binghamton. The Retrievers and Bearcats will be playing to get into the quarterfinals and the opportunity to keep an incredibly unlikely run to the title alive. Between the two of them they reached the AE title game just 16 times in 10,000 sims. UMBC won the title once and that was it. That means top seed Stony Brook has a huge advantage, and that home court advantage in the finals sure comes in handy.
The home court advantage in the finals is huge. Because Stony Brook has such a good chance of making it to the final two this format definitely favors SBU. If you make the finals 75% of the time and you’re the #1 seed you’re going to have a good chance of taking home the conference title. If I had to pick a dark horse in this competition it’d be Maine. There’s a lot of talent there, but they haven’t really been able to put it together. If Albany is healthy the Great Danes could knock off SBU in the semifinals, but they’d then have to play at either Vermont or Boston U. probably, so it doesn’t help too much. (Also, Albany’s interior defense – or lack thereof – makes SBU a bad matchup for UA.)
You’ve got to be one of the top four teams to make the finals and win a title. The combined total finals the teams rated 5-9 made was worse than the number of titles #4 Albany won – 142 vs. 535. Still, this is a pretty open tournament for the first four seeds and should give the Seawolves a great test as they try to reach their first ever NCAA tournament.