Top 5 CAA Basketball Games On NCAA Basketball Opening Night
Tom Yeager Will Enjoy Plenty of CAA Action Friday Evening
Tomorrow, Friday November 9, the 2012-2013 college basketball season will tip-off its opening night of the regular season. And, of course, there are plenty of high-quality matchups slated to occur. Among many others, the preseason Number 1 team in the country, Indiana, will be on display, No. 10 Florida will take on Georgetown and No. 14 Michigan State will take on the newly Kevin Ollie-led Connecticut Huskies.
Just like the rest of the country, the Colonial Athletic Association will also feature some newsworthy matchups as well on NCAA opening night. In the top 5 CAA games on opening day, three CAA basketball teams will be on the road, while two teams will be hosting contests, all against non-conference opponents. Interestingly, all five of the teams’ games are set to tip-off at 7PM.
As it’s just opening night, all of the CAA clubs that will play on the road will only travel minimal distances for their respective games. Some teams will take on national powerhouses and other high-major talent, while others are set for other mid-major opponents.
With each team’s first appearance, many questions loom within each basketball program. How will rookies respond when the spotlights are on? Will the team’s offseason additions and transfers blend with their returning rotation players? Can the school’s coach lead his team to a more successful season than last year?
Friday night will definitely start clearing up some of the answers to those questions.
In the next five slides, you will see previews for each of the top 5 opening night CAA basketball games, evaluating the available players for each team and their matchups with their respective opponents.
Jake Fischer is the CAA Correspondent for Rant Sports-NCAA Basketball. Make sure to follow Jake on Twitter @fischsportsline.
Hofstra Pride at Monmouth Hawks
In the first opening night game listed on CAAsports.com, the Hofstra Pride will travel down the road to Monmouth to begin their 2012-2013 season. Heading into this matchup, the Pride have many positives and negatives affecting their roster. First, they have an excellent young coach in Mo Cassara leading their troops. But, unfortunately, Cassara is a perfect metaphor for the hardships Hofstra basketball has faced over the past few weeks in practice time do to the second Presidential Debate and Superstorm Sandy. On top of that, the team is down two talented high-major recruits in Taran Buie and Jamaal Coombs-McDaniel for their first two games of the season. However, the team just added another huge transfer, yesterday, in former Hawaii guard, Shaquille Stokes. Pairing Stokes up with already established scorer Stevie Mejia in the backcourt to run with forwards senior captain David Imes and redshirt freshman Jordan Allen, the Pride should be able to outplay Monmouth’s top players. The Hawks feature a backcourt of relatively high-scoring senior guards Jesse Steele and Dion Nesmith, who averaged 12.6 points and 8.8 points per game, respectively. But, with the Pride’s new bolstered backcourt, look for Hofstra to start their season 1-0.
Northeastern Huskies vs Boston Terriers
Tomorrow night, the Northeastern Huskies will welcome cross-town rival, Boston University, to the oldest college basketball stadium in America, Matthews Arena. If you’ve been following Northeastern basketball even a little over the past few months, you know that this team has bonded this summer, during their summer tour of Canada. Led by 7th year head coach, Bill Coen, the Huskies are looking poised to have one of their greatest seasons in program history. Even though they’re down a senior captain and Preseason All-CAA 1st Team selection in Jonathan Lee for the time being due to a foot injury, the Huskies should fair pretty well in their season opener. On Friday, Coen will rely on Lee’s fellow senior captain, Joel Smith, to carry the offense with his great shooting ability, as well as sophomore standout Quincy Ford. The Terriers could very well be the first opponent slain on their path to a CAA Championship run.
Drexel Dragons at Kent State Golden Flashes
Friday evening, the preseason CAA favorite Drexel Dragons will travel to Ohio to take on Kent State in their season opener. This season, the Golden Flashes will be led by senior guard Randal Holt who averaged 12.7 points per game in 2011-2012. They also have a stud in 6-8 senior Chris Evans in the frontcourt. However, the Dragons backourt of Damion Lee, a Preseason All-CAA 1st Team Selction, and CAA Preseason Player of the Year, Frantz Massenat are more than capable of cancelling out Holt and the rest of the Kent attack. Head coach Bruiser Flint looks like he is well on his way towards earning his first win this season.
George Mason Patriots vs Virginia Caveliers
On the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, the George Mason Patriots will play host to the Virginia Cavaliers in a primetime southern matchup to open the season tomorrow. The Patriots look to open up head coach Paul Hewitt’s second season with a victory over a solid ACC opponent who finished 22-10 overall in 2011-2012. This year, the Cavs will be lead by 6-6 G Joe Harris, who scored a respectable 11.6 points per game last season and is looking to replace the production of last year’s leading scorer, Mike Scott. For the home team, Mason has its own stud in the backcourt in 6-4 junior guard Sherrod Wright, who is the highest scorer of the team’s returning players from last season. But, the Patriots will be down big men Erik Copes and Vaughn Gray due to suspension for violating team student-athlete conduct policies. With a then backcourt, George Mason should struggle on opening night and may very well fail to defend home court.
Georgia State Panthers at Duke Blue Devils
The highlight of the CAA on Friday night comes when head coach Ron Hunter takes his Georgia State Panthers team on the road to Durham, North Carolina to take on the No. 8 Duke Blue Devils on ESPNU. For Duke this season, it’s the year of the little brother. Mason Plumlee and Seth Curry look to lead the Coach K attack this season, along with running mate senior, Ryan Kelly. The Panthers have a new and improved backcourt with Devonta White and freshman R.J. Hunter. With a high scoring duo bringing up the ball, Hunter will need his big guys 6-10 Vincent James, 6-9 Curtis Washington, 6-7 Manny Atkins and 6-6 Marcus Crider to contribute a collective outstanding effort in order to compete with Duke’s depth. Just like Mason before them, expect State to have a very difficult task opening up against a tough ACC opponent.