Vermont went through an extremely emotional Championship Week. If the team can overcome this and win the conference tournament, defeating a top ranked team in the NCAA tournament isn’t all that big a deal.
The Vermont Catamounts defeated Boston University 83-70 to win the America East conference tournament championship game and clinch an automatic berth in the 2010 NCAA tournament. The victory game just four days after junior Evan Fjeld lost his mother to cancer. In one of the more emotional moments in the history of Championship Week, Fjeld was surrounded by teammates who embraced the junior as soon as the buzzer sounded. Fjeld than found his father in the crowd as students stormed the basketball court.
Vermont’s schedule is hardly impressive when compared with the top teams playing in the 2010 NCAA tournament. Providence crushed the Catamounts and Drexel beat Vermont by double-digits. Cornell, a 2010 NCAA tournament team, also beat Vermont back in November. After that loss, Vermont won five straight and twelve out of thirteen. The Catamounts enter the 2010 NCAA tournament having won eleven of the team’s past twelve and four straight. The team finished with an overall record of 25-9.
Senior Marqus Blakely leads Vermont in scoring (17.2 points a game) and rebounding (9.1). Senior guard Maurice Joseph, a 38 percent three point shooter, averages 14 points per game. Evan Fjeld averages 10.7 points and 6.1 rebounds a game for Vermont.
Vermont may wind up being the most dangerous 14-16 seed in the entire 2010 NCAA tournament. Sure, the Catamounts have not at all proven that it is a team that can play on the biggest stage in all of college basketball. What team in the nation has gone through more than Vermont in the past week? You can guarantee that the current Vermont roster has never been more unified than it is right now.
You also have to consider the fact that there is real talent on this team. Nobody in the America East won more overall games than Vermont (25-9) and that Catamounts finished one game behind Stony Brook in conference play (12-4). This is a basketball team that can score on the perimeter and dump the ball down low.
Would I bet the house on a Vermont upset in the first round of the 2010 NCAA tournament? Absolutely not. If the Catamounts face off against an overrated team in the first round of the tournament, however, we could brewing for an upset. Whoever Vermont gets in the first round, you can be sure the Catamounts won’t be intimidated.
All stats courtesy of ESPN