Name: University of Vermont and State Agricultural College
Location: Burlington, Vermont
Wait, what’s with UVM if they’re in Burlington? Shouldn’t it be UVB? Or UVT if they’re using the postal abbreviation? Fantastic question, based in logic as all things should be. It actually doesn’t have anything to do with the official name of the school. The Latin for University of the Green Mountains is Universitas Viridis Montis, or UVM. The Green Mountains, which are part of the Appalachian Mountains, run through Vermont from Massachusetts to Canada.
Okay, so where’s Burlington? Is it in the southeast corner of the state like Wisconsin’s Burlington is? Quite the opposite! Burlington is in the northeast corner of Vermont, on the shores of Lake Champlain and thus along the state’s border with New York. Burlington is approximately a 40 minute drive from the Canadian border and probably 2 hours from Montreal if you factor in time to stop at the border.
Founded: The university was chartered in 1791, making it one of the oldest universities in the United States. However, they didn’t actually start classes until 1801. Things moved at a slower pace back before the invention of the light bulb.
It’s also one of the eight original “Public Ivy” schools, along with William & Mary, Miami (OH), California, Michigan, North Carolina, Texas, and Virginia, although that completely invented designation didn’t come along until the mid-1980s.
Enrollment: 13,350 students in total for the spring 2023 semester, with 10,688 undergrads. Should we be surprised that they have more than 75% out of state enrollment in the undergraduate population? That seems high, but also Public Ivy, and also I’d be willing to bet that they have a nice tuition exchange program with New Hampshire or New York, too.
UVM is BORED: A sense of humor dusts UVM’s official campus happenings website. Apparently the Department of Student Life caught word that the student population was “bored,” and so UVM BORED was born. They used the mid-90s version of the internet to help get the word out about everything going on around campus, and it has continued to this day with the same name. I am presuming that the name is a play on the idea of a message board, yes? We’re all going to agree on this.
What’s a Catamount? Yes, it sounds very impressive, but it’s just a fancy word for any kind of medium to large sized wild cat, something in the cougar or puma department, perhaps.
Why “Catamounts”? The ever popular “the student newspaper put it up to a vote.” Catamounts beat out Tomcats, Camels, and Cows. The recorded vote was 138-126, which raises questions about how there are only two numbers involved in a four-way vote, but let’s not ask very hard questions about what was going on in student journalism in Vermont in 1926.
Notable Alumni: Jody Williams, Nobel Peace Prize winner for her work to eliminate land mines; author E. Annie Proulx, best known for her novel Brokeback Mountain; Jon Fishman and Mike Gordon, members of the band Phish (Trey Anastasio transferred and did not graduate from UVM); Olympic gold medal winning alpine skier Barbara Cochran; David Fanzoni, Madeleine Kunin, the first female governor of Vermont; Academy Award winner for his screenplay for Gladiator; actor Kerr Smith, best known for his role as Jack on Dawson’s Creek; former United States First Lady Grace Coolidge; former Villanova head coach Rollie Massimino; NHL MVP and Stanley Cup winner Martin St. Louis; and finally, sports talk personality Ryen Russillo.
This Season: 23-10, with a 14-2 record in America East play, and winners of 15 straight.
KenPom.com Ranking: #113
T-Rank Ranking: #99
Points: Dylan Penn, 13.5 ppg
Rebounds: Robin Duncan, 7.3 rpg
Assists: Robin Duncan, 4.4 apg
Shooters? We should start with the idea that Vermont likes to shoot the three, ranking #47 in the country per KenPom.com in terms of what percentage of their total shots come from behind the arc. Over 43% of their launches come from back there, and as you’d expect, they’ve got several guys hoisting it frequently. Finn Sullivan leads the team in attempts at six per game, but he’s only hitting 33% this season. Aaron Deloney and Matt Veretto are both north of four attempts per game, and both men connect more than 40% of the time. Starter Kam Gibson is fourth on the team in attempts per game and hits nearly 37% of his tries, and we should also point out TJ Hurley. Marquette is going to have to keep track of when he comes off the bench in relief of the starters, because he doesn’t shoot the three much, but he is hitting over 41% of them.
Bigs? The tallest guy on the team is Perry Smith at 6’9” and 225 pounds, but he’s played just 25 total minutes in UVM’s 15 game winning streak and never more than five minutes, and also in only three of the last seven games. That makes MU’s only real worry on the roster Matt Veretto, and he presents the Golden Eagles with an interesting conundrum. He’s 6’8” and 220 pounds, so effectively the same size as Oso Ighodaro.... but Verretto has shot coming up on twice as many three-pointers this season (132) as he has two-pointers (83). Veretto is also only averaging 3.0 rebounds per game, so while he’s clearly the biggest guy in the starting lineup, he’s hardly the dominant inside presence that you’d expect to see from that guy. Everyone else on the roster is 6’7” and under.
Head Coach: John Becker, in his 12th season at the helm in Burlington. He has a head coaching record of 280-112. He became the winningest coach in program history back in January, passing Tom Brennan with a January 5th victory over Bryant.
All Time Series: Marquette leads 2-0 with an 89-58 win in December 1995 and a 91-81 win in December 2017.
What To Watch For: Vermont’s defense in in a lot of trouble. The Catamounts don’t force a lot of turnovers, ranking just #256 in the country in rate according to KenPom.com, although they were a little bit better than that in conference play this season. The point of the story is that Marquette doesn’t commit very many turnovers, coughing it up even less often than Vermont pries it away from opponents at just 15.2% on the year. We saw first hand what the Marquette offense can look like if they’re not turning the ball over at all on Saturday when they went the entire first half against Xavier with just one turnover. The Musketeers are actually worse than Vermont at forcing turnovers, so this is a pretty apt comparison. If the Golden Eagles can run their offense relatively unimpeded, the Catamounts are going to struggle to contain them because they just don’t have the metrics that say that they’re very good at defending shooting.
UVM’s biggest strengths on defense are two things that Marquette either doesn’t care about or is kind of bad at: Rebounding and getting to the free throw line. Vermont cleans the defensive glass very well and they don’t let you shoot free throws. Marquette is a lousy second chance opportunity team and because they focus on getting open looks whether that’s cuts/drives or open jumpers, the Golden Eagles don’t shoot a lot of free throws anyway. In short: MU will be more than happy to let Vermont take those away from them because they weren’t using them anyway.
On the other end of the court, it’s going to be interesting to see if Marquette can force Vermont into possession problems. A lot of MU’s defensive concepts are predicated on being disruptive, as they rank #18 in the country in defensive turnover rate. Vermont is even better than Marquette is at holding onto the ball, so if the Catamounts hold the advantage there, it’s going to lead to them being able to get a chance to shoot some threes pretty regularly. Neither team is particularly good at getting rebounds on that end of the floor, so whichever team can get an edge there will have a pretty notable advantage all game long. Marquette had been on a bit of an upswing in that department since mid-January, but they’ve dipped back down in the last five games or so. MU’s defense overall has been on an upswing to a certain extent over the last few weeks, so if they can keep up that intensity, they should be able to corral the Catamounts into some problems.