ORONO — For the second straight season, the University of Maine has been included in the pool of teams that will be eligible for the Sears BracketBusters event, a three-day men’s basketball tournament.
Coach Ted Woodward’s Black Bears will be joined by all eight other America East men’s teams.
The mini tournament, which will include 13 contests televised on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU or ESPN3, is scheduled Feb. 17-19, 2012.
Last season, UMaine dropped a road game against Siena in the event. This time around, the Bears have been selected as one of the home teams — along with AE rivals Albany, New Hampshire and Vermont.
The pairings will be announced Jan. 30, 2012.
The tourney includes 142 teams from 16 conferences. The 116 teams not selected for Sears BracketBusters (the TV games) will compete against each other in the same time period.
As part of the agreement, all 71 home teams in the tournament must play a return game at the home facility of their opponent in November or December of the 2013-14 season.
UMaine opens up with an Oct. 30 exhibition game against Fisher and plays its regular-season opener Nov. 11 at Rhode Island.
BLACK BEARS ON THE MEND
The UMaine football team is likely to be without three front-line players Saturday when it takes on fifth-ranked Delaware in a 3 p.m. contest on Morse Field at Alfond Stadium.
Senior tight end Derek Buttles, sixth-year defensive tackle Ryan Nani and sophomore wide receiver Derrick Johnson all continue to be sidelined with injuries.
Buttles and Johnson both suffered knee injuries at Albany, while Nani was hurt early in the game at Pittsburgh.
None of the three participated in Tuesday’s practice.
BLUE HENS’ PIERCE ‘QUESTIONABLE’
Reports out of Delaware indicate Blue Hens tailback Andrew Pierce is hobbled by a knee injury.
The talented runner, the league’s 2010 Offensive Rookie of the Year, was hurt during last Saturday’s 27-17 victory over Old Dominion at Newark, Del.
In that game, Pierce rushed for a career-low 21 yards on 14 carries before sustaining what head coach K.C. Keeler described as a slight strain of the medial collateral ligament in his knee.
Pierce is averaging 92.2 yards per game with six touchdowns on the season. He is backed up by David Hayes (45 carries, 218 yards).