This 101.3 ESPN Sound Off. Opinions from Rich Haskell and Ryan Matlack.
Cats Den: NIT - Vermont vs. Georgia
by Ryan Matlack,posted Mar 19 2014 11:36AM
UVM finds itself in the NIT following a disappointing run in the America East Tournament. Vermont fell to eventual conference champ Albany in the America East semifinal round. Though the Catamounts didn’t play up to their potential, it’s unfortunate that the America East regular season champ had to go on the road to face the tournament’s four-seed.
But lucky for the Cats, their road gets to continue in the National Invitation Tournament. Per a relatively new NCAA rule, all regular season champs that don’t win their conference tournaments get automatic bids to the NIT.
Vermont is a seven-seed, and is set to face second-seeded Georgia in Athens. Coverage starts tonight at7:30 on 101.3 ESPN and 1013espn.com
3 KEYS TO THE GAME
1) Rebound the basketball
Georgia has all sorts of size. Their starting point guard is 6-foot-5. Their starting small forward is 6-foot-7. Only one Bulldog in Head Coach Mark Fox’s rotation is shorter than 6-foot-3. The Bulldogs have a +9 rebounding margin in wins, and a -2 margin in losses. Vermont was crushed on the glass versus Albany, losing the battle on the boards by 15.
2) Get back on defense
Georgia is really athletic and long, with explosive transition players. They frequently look to push the basketball. The Catamounts need to keep them in halfcourt situations.
3) Play with purpose
It’s not the NCAA Tournament, but it’s still an opportunity. The Catamounts get to play the third-place SEC team on a large stage. On the down side, if they lose, the seniors’ careers are promptly over. But if the Cats realize what’s at stake, and play with the necessary intensity, then the team (and the six seniors) can continue on.
NUMBER TO KNOW: 17
Vermont senior Clancy Rugg is 17 points away from 1,000, with possibly one game left in his career. While he certainly would take 17 or more in tonight’s contest, the best-case scenario would involve a win. That way, he gets to continue his career, and would in all likelihood wind up with 1,000 career points as well.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: TOM BRENNAN
That’s right – back in the day the legendary UVM coach was once a player. And he played for the University of Georgia. Still close with many down here in Athens, Coach Brennan has joined the University of Vermont traveling party, and will be on hand for the game. He told the Burlington Free Press he will be rooting for Vermont.