After the matinees, a big game tonight

Navy has a 1 p.m. start today at the Citadel. Want to guess how small that crowd ought to be? Colgate's 4 p.m. start at Florida Atlantic might be even smaller. And then there is Army at Fairly Ridiculous, which might draw the smallest crowd of all, despite the 7:30 start.

Today' marquis matchup,though, is undoubtedly Vermont at Holy Cross.

For some reason, Vermont is one of the mainstream media's dandies du season. The Catamounts have even been invited to play in ESPN's Bracket Buster Saturday. None other than lawyer turned hoops commentator Jay Bilas of ESPN has proclaimed UVM's Tyler Coppenrath one of the seven toughest players in the nation in pre-conference play.

That might be true. Then again, since most of the big time folks like Bilas rarely, if ever, actually get to watch any mid-major games, you might want to take the hype with a grain of salt.

Yes, Coppenrath is a scorer. He's a pretty fair rebounder, too. Coppenrath ranks second in the nation in scoring and No. 12 in rebounding. He may well play in the NBA someday, as Bilas predicts. But one good player does not make Vermont a great team.

Look no further than their loss at American for evidence. Matter of fact, take a look at what the Catamounts have done so far this season. Or should we say what they have not done, which is beat a team with an above .500 record. Their four wins come against teams with a combined record of 13-28.

Granted two of Vermont's three losses came to teams ranked in the top 5 in the latest AP poll. But until they beat somebody besides Marist, Iona, Binghamton or Siena, we see no reason to jump on the 'Mounts bandwagon.

Not that we wouldn't like to see Vermont do well this season. Tom Brennan is one of the good guys, a genuine class act and a good interview. We first encountered Brennan back in the early days of the print version of Hoop Time when he brought his Eddie Benton-led team to Penn State for a non-conference game. Benton, by the way, still holds a lot of the Vermont and America East scoring records.

Brennan has already announced his retirement at the end of the season. We'd love to see him go out on top. But unless they get the automatic bid for winning the America East, Joel Weiser's preseason prediction of no post season tournament for UVM should hold true, no matter how hard Bilas tries to hype them.

Should they beat Holy Cross in Worcester tonight, end up with 20 wins and lose to, say, Boston University in the conference final, maybe, just maybe, we would argue they deserve an at large bid.

Frankly, we don't see that happening.

Other games tonight:

Navy at The Citadel, 1 p.m.

Colgate at Florida Atlantic, 4 p.m.

Army at Fairleigh Dickinson, 7:30 p.m.

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