(16) VERMONT vs. (16) LAMAR: MIDWEST REGION
Vermont 23-11, 13-3 America East (Conference Tournament Champions)
Lamar 23-11, 11-5 Southland Standings (Conference Tournament Champions)
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Location: University of Dayton Arena in Dayton, Ohio
Line: Lamar -3½ (O/U TBA)
Players to Watch
Vermont: F Matt Glass, 6-8 Sr. (11.9 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 46.4% FG); G Four McGlynn, 6-2 Fr. (12 ppg, 1.1 apg, 38.7% 3s); F Brian Voelkel, 6-6 So. (4.8 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 5.2 apg). Voelkel is one of the most interesting players in the country. He struggles to shoot and score, shooting 34 percent from the field and 20 percent from the 3-point line, but at 6-6, he’s an exception passer and rebounder.
Lamar: G Mike James, 6-1 Sr. (17.2 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 2 apg); G Anthony Miles, 6-1 Sr. (14.5 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 4.1 apg); G Devon Lamb, 6-2 Sr. (11.9 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 1.7 spg). James was the difference in the Cardinals' Southland championship game win over McNeese State. He finished with 28 points, nine boards and three assists as Lamar drubbed the Cowboys 70-49.
Why They're Dangerous
Vermont: Vermont plays exceptional defense, allowing opponents to shoot just 44.3 percent from the floor and 36.4 from the 3-point line against it. It will attempt to keep the game slow and limit Lamar’s offensive possessions. The Catamounts are outstanding from the foul line (74.2 percent), which could be big in what should be a close game. Vermont also protect the basketball, turning it over just 12 times per game. After opening the season 4-7, Vermont closed with 17 wins in its last 19 games.
Lamar: Lamar has a talented trio of senior guards with James, Miles and Lamb. The have as much experience as any team in the tournament. What the Cardinals do well on the floor is two things. First, they rebound. They had a plus-5.2 rebounding margin and the 19th-most offensive rebounds per game at 14. They are 10th in total rebounds nationally and they rebound 37.5 percent of their own misses. Despite their deep shooting woes, Lamar is solid from the free throw line. It makes 72.1 percent of their charity shots. Its 601 free throws made is seventh nationally.
Why They're Vulnerable
Vermont: The Cats struggle from the floor at times, particularly from the 3-point line (34.6 percent). In their tourney championship win over Stony Brook, they made just 18-of-43 shots from the field. The Catamounts, who were 198th in the nation in scoring (67.2 per game), have a minus-1.6 rebounds per game and their assist-to-turnover ratio is just 1.07-to-1. Vermont gets just 6.2 steals per game and force only 12.1 turnovers per contest. The squad is young with Glass the only senior seeing significant floor time.
Lamar: Like Vermont, the Cardinals struggle to shoot from outside of the paint. They shot just 43.5 percent from the floor and 33.8 from the 3-point line. Lamar made 149 3-pointers. That’s 314th in the country.
The Bottom Line: The America East is probably better than the Southland and the Cardinals had five Southland losses. Leaning Vermont, particularly with the points.
The Pick: Vermont 59, Lamar 55
(Winner would face North Carolina, Friday in Greensboro, N.C.)
Greg Against the Spread This Season: 198-148-6