In a matchup of second place teams in America East, the Boston University Terriers (11-12, 7-2 AE) will look to get some payback for an early-season conference loss to rival Vermont (13-10, 7-2) at the Agganis Arena Wednesday night at 7 p.m. EDT. (TV: ESPN3/ Radio: 1510AM WWZN)
These two teams faced off in the Terriers conference opener on January 5, with the Catamounts earning an 83-69 victory over Boston University in Vermont. Senior guard Darryl Partin led the Terriers with 19 points and Dom Morris nearly added a double-double (nine points, 11 rebounds), but it wasn't enough to overcome a strong effort from Vermont. The Catamounts got 20 points from Four McGlynn and UMass transfer Matt Glass added 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting. It was a close game through the first 28 minutes, before the Catamounts used a 13-4 run to open up a double-digit lead (15 points).
Boston University leads the all-time series 53-43 between two of the founding members of the America East Conference. In the past 10 meetings between the teams though, Vermont has come away with seven victories, including the 2010 America East Tournament Championship Game. Up until last season, the Catamounts were riding a five-game winning streak, but that ended with a Terrier sweep of both games.
Agganis Arena has a been a home away from home for Vermont, as they own a 6-2 record at The Greek and have played there every year since it's opened, except for last season. The Terriers can counter Vermont's success at Agganis, with a 15-game home conference winning streak, including six straight wins at Agganis Arena. Vermont was the last conference foe to win on Commonwealth Avenue, when they earned a 76-75 last second victory in 2010, the last time these two teams met at Agganis.
The Terriers are coming off their first loss since their conference opener, after they fell 66-57 to conference-leading Stony Brook Friday night on Long Island. Both teams surrendered leads of nine-points or more and the Terriers held a lead with under four minutes to go, but couldn't keep pace with the Seawolves in the final minutes. Partin paced Boston University with 21 points and six rebounds but forced some of his shots in the second half. Sophomore point guard D.J. Irving struggled to penetrate the Stony Brook defense and finished with seven points, five assists and four turnovers, as Boston University's seven-game winning streak came to a close.
Vermont got some payback of their own Sunday, when they avenged an earlier loss to New Hampshire with a 77-60 home victory. Despite allowing the Wildcats to shoot 68 percent in the first half, the Catamounts held a three-point halftime lead and opened up the game in the second half by holding New Hampshire to 20 second-half points. The sharp-shooting McGlynn led the Catamounts again with 20 points and point guard Sandro Carissimo and Glass both chipped in 14 points.
Both teams come into this matchup red-hot winning seven of their past eight games. With the America East qualifying as a one-bid conference, seeding is paramount for the conference tournament as the top remaining seed earns home-court advantage for the championship game. The two teams trail Stony Brook by a game, but the Terriers have already split with the Seawolves, while the Catamounts have yet to play them in Vermont. Whichever team wins tonight will be in the driver's seat for a top two seed and potentially the number one overall seed if Stony Brook slips.
Key To the Game: Irving noticeably struggled in the first matchup between the two teams, as it was his first game back from a concussion. Instead of displaying his usual quickness and aggressiveness, Irving looked slow and settled for long jump shots. Since then he's been the Terriers' most important player and has been the catalyst offensively and a spark defensively. If he can consistently get into the paint, all of the Terriers players should benefit offensively and the game should have a totally different look than the first time around.
Prediction: The Terriers can't afford to drop two in a row and would love to deal their biggest America East rivals a big blow. While Vermont has dominated Boston University in Boston in the past, they've always had a strong inside presence to threaten the Terriers. This is the first year that I've been around (five years) that Boston University has the stronger front court and that should be enough to push them to a win.
Boston University 78, Vermont 73