The University of Maine’s basketball teams have reached the final week of the regular season, while the postseason has arrived for the state’s small-college teams.
The Black Bear men’s and women’s teams each have two games remaining, while teams in the North Atlantic Conference, including Husson University of Bangor and Maine Maritime Academy of Castine, open tournament play on Tuesday.
In Orono, coach Richard Barron’s UMaine women already know their matchup for the quarterfinals of the America East championship on March 6 at SEFCU Arena on the campus of the University at Albany (N.Y.).
The Black Bears, who are 14-13 overall and 8-6 in league play going into Wednesday’s 7 p.m. home finale against UMass Lowell at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor, will face Hartford (11-16, 8-6 AE).
The teams are tied for fourth place at the moment, but one will be the No. 4 seed and the other the No. 5 seed, regardless of the outcome of the remaining regular-season contests. UMaine and Hartford split their regular-season meetings, although the Hawks own a win over third-place Stony Brook.
The UMaine-Hartford quarterfinal winner will draw the winner of the Nos. 1 vs. 8 bracket, which will contain either host Albany or New Hampshire as the top seed. The Great Danes need win only one of their two final games against UNH or Stony Brook to claim the regular-season title.
On the men’s side, coach Ted Woodward’s UMaine team is staring at a difficult matchup for next week’s America East quarterfinals at Albany, N.Y.
The Black Bears (5-21, 3-11 AE) have dropped five consecutive contests and sit at the bottom of the conference standings. With games remaining against UMass Lowell and New Hampshire, UMaine could finish as high as sixth. That would result in a quarterfinal matchup against either tournament host Albany or Hartford.
If the Black Bears wind up seventh or eighth, they face the prospect of battling either Vermont or Stony Brook in the first round. All four of those teams swept their regular-season series against UMaine.
America East newcomer UMass Lowell (9-18, 7-8 AE) sits in fifth place but is ineligible for postseason play and the league title until the 2017-18 season.
Even with two victories, UMaine will post its lowest regular-season conference win total since it went 4-12 during the 2008-09 campaign.
NAC playoffs begin
Husson’s Newman Gymnasium will be the site of a doubleheader for Tuesday’s North Atlantic Conference quarterfinal round.
Coach Kissy Walker’s fourth-seeded Husson women play No. 5 New England College at 5:30 p.m., with the No. 1 Eagles of men’s coach Warren Caruso slated to meet No. 8 Johnson State at 7:30.
The Husson men earned the top seed by virtue of a 23-2 overall record and a 17-1 league mark. Trevon Butler spearheads a balanced Eagles attack with 13.3 points and 6.5 rebounds per game.
Raheem Anderson (12.4 ppg, 2.0 apg) and Phil Leighton of Naples (11.2 ppg, 4.4 rpg) are other mainstays on a ballclub that has won nine games in a row.
The Badgers look to Asim Khan (15.6 ppg, 2.6 apg) and Bryan Hickey (15.0 ppg, 11.1 rpg) to lead the way.
Husson swept Johnson State during the regular season, posting an 86-78 decision Jan. 24 in Vermont and earning an 86-69 win Feb. 15 in Bangor.
Sixth seeded UMaine-Farmington (11-14, 9-9 NAC) visits No. 3 Colby-Sawyer (14-10, 13-5 NAC), and No. 5 Thomas College of Waterville (11-14, 11-7 NAC) travels to No. 4 Lyndon State (12-13, 12-6 NAC) in other NAC quarterfinals involving Maine teams.
The Husson women (14-11, 13-5 NAC) won a Jan. 18 meeting against the Pilgrims in Bangor 67-58, and NEC (14-11, 9-0 NAC) won 63-61 on Feb. 7 at Henniker, N.H.
Husson is paced by freshman guard Chandler Guerette of Presque Isle, who is averaging 12.1 points, 2.7 assists and 2.0 steals, along with Samira Cruz (8.8 ppg) and Rebecca Young (8.4 ppg,4.2 rebounds per game).
New England College features the league’s top two scorers in Kayla Lawlor (17.0 ppg, 3.2 apg) and Taylor Burgess (15.2 ppg, 7.5 rpg).
In other women’s games involving Maine teams, No. 3 Maine Maritime (16-9, 13-5 NAC) hosts No. 6 UMaine-Farmington (9-16, 8-10 NAC), and No. 7 Thomas College of Waterville (4-21, 4-14 NAC) travels to No. 1 Castleton State (22-3, 17-1 NAC).