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Vermont Preview

NCAA Basketball: America East Final-Vermont vs UMBC Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Vermont has won the last two America East regular season titles, losing just one conference game combined in those two years. It’s tough to make too much stylistic analysis of this year’s team given they have three new starters, but I will do my best.

While last year’s team did not take a ton of threes despite being very good at them, this year’s team looks like they want to let it fly from deep a bit more. They attempted nearly half their threes from deep in their opener against Boston University, although it’s worth pointing out BU allowed a ton of threes in their other two games this year, and last year as well. And, Vermont has plenty of shooters back this season, so embracing that could lead to the Catamounts having an even better offense than they did last season.

Defensively Vermont will probably be in a bit of trouble. They’re on the smaller side, with just one player listed taller than 6-8. While they may be able to draw Udoka Azubuike away from the basket when they’re on offense, on the other side it should be a dunk fest for the big man.

Interestingly, they were able to limit opponents offensive rebounding last season when they had similar height issues (even allowing Kentucky to rebound under 30 percent of its misses in a 4-point loss), but I think Dedric Lawson and company will have some luck in that area as well. And, it’s also worth noting the Catamounts don’t force a ton of turnovers, which is good news for an inexperienced backcourt.

Players to Watch

Anthony Lamb, 6-6 junior wing

Lamb saw his sophomore season limited to just 17 games, but for his entire career he’s been an efficient scorer despite a ton of usage. He led America East in usage rate as a freshman and still had an effective field goal percentage of 55.8 percent. He’s not much of a 3-point shooter with just 109 attempts in his career, but he’ll be a tricky assignment for whoever draws it for KU. He’s also an effective rebounder.

Everett Duncan, 6-6 junior wing

Duncan ranked 3rd nationally in offensive rating last season, and as you can probably expect he was a low-usage wing player who didn’t turn it over much and shot the lights out. He shot 46.2 percent from three last year on over 100 attempts and while he won’t create much, his man will have to make sure he doesn’t help at all.

Ernie Duncan, 6-3 senior guard

Everett’s older brother (their younger brother Robin is a Vermont commit as well) had 18 points, 5 assists, and just 1 turnover in their season opening win over BU, and he may be an even better shooter than his brother with a career percentage of 41% on 546 attempts. He’s probably not as good of a passer as his season opening numbers suggest, but he’s another guy you don’t want to leave open.

The pick

If Vermont makes a few threes they could get a little frisky. I don’t think KU is in danger of losing, but I will say I am happy they are facing a Vermont team that is replacing three starters early in the season rather than late in the season. I like KU to win fairly easily but I think the 23 point spread I saw them at is way too many for them to be giving up. I’ll say Kansas 88-73.