Over the course of the next month, I'd like to take our readers through the current conference leaders who look to be the favorites to be this year's NCAA Tournament automatic bids.
Today, we take an inside look at the America East Conference leader, the Maine Black Bears.
Currently standing at 13-7, Maine is off to possibly its best season in school history. The Black Bears have proven to be a legitimate contender for the America East title with a 7-1 record in conference play.
Maine has proven to be a force to be reckoned with after grabbing big wins over RPI top 100 teams Massachusetts (12-7), Penn State (11-8) and Vermont (15-5).
Maine's scoring efforts are led by a tandem of upperclassmen. The Black Bears are led by senior forward Troy Barnies, who averages 14.2 points and 7.7 rebounds a game. Junior Gerald McLemore has also been a great three-point threat (36 percent) for the Bears with 12.1 points a game. In addition, senior guard Terrance Mitchell has been huge for Maine from the outside (43.8 percent) with 10.1 points per contest.
While Maine seems to be the clear favorite to win the conference, the Black Bears will have to keep up the intensity with the Vermont Catamounts just a game behind in the standings. The Bears currently hold the advantage after coming out on top in a road contest against Vermont, where they won 72-58.
The two conference leaders will battle each other again in a rematch at Maine on February 16th. The winner of this America East showdown could be dancing in March and will have a new America East Champions banner to hang in its arena.
Tomorrows Article: Atlantic 10: Duquesne Dukes