On Saturday, January 4, five Colonial Athletic Association men’s basketball teams will be in action. Let’s take a look at each of those contests.
First, the Delaware Blue Hens will make their CAA play debut when they take on the Old Dominion Monarchs at noon on Saturday at the Convocation Center. The Blue Hens (5-8) have been led tis season by their very inside-out combination of Devon Saddler and Jamelle Hagins. Saddler is leading the conference in scoring at 19.2 points per game while Hagins is leading the league with 12.5 rebounds per game. The Monarchs have really struggled this season, as they are now in the beginning of their final season of CAA play before leaving for Conference USA next season. Even though they’re on the road, expect Delaware to have a very good chance at winning this one.
Next, at 1PM, the UNCW Seahawks will head north to Boston to take on the Northeastern Huskies in the historic Matthews Arena. The Huskies (6-7) are coming off a triumphant upset victory over George Mason on Thursday at the Patriot Center and will look to move to 2-0 in the conference. The Hawks (5-8) are coming off a tough loss to Towson where they, at one point, found themselves trailing by 20 points. If Northeastern’s high-scoring backcourt can out-produce UNCW’s Keith Rendleman, they probably will be able to protect home court.
At 2PM, two CAA games will begin action. One of those contests features the James Madison Dukes traveling to GSU Sports Arena to battle the Georgia State Panthers. James Madison (7-6) enters this game on a very hot streak. They’ve won four-straight games and six of their last seven. On the opposite side of the ball, the Panthers have lost five straight games and seven of their last nine. It’s not too hard to predict where this contest is going. Dukes all day.
The other game of the 2PM slate comes to you from Williamsburg, VA, where George Mason visits the William & Mary Pride. This matchup features the top-two teams in the CAA during non-conference play this season and will most likely be one of the most competitive games of the day. Against Northeastern on Thursday, the Patriots looked to struggle with their identity late in the game. It seemed that Mason didn’t know whether to just rely on Sherrod Wright or try to get out in transition with their deep roster. If they can’t play a consistent 40 minutes of basketball, the Pride, led by their efficient starting lineup that features Marcus Thornton and Tim Rusthoven, should be able to stay unbeaten in the CAA. Look for head coach Tony Shaver and company to take care of business.
The final game in the CAA on Saturday will tip-off at 4PM, when the Towson Tigers and Drexel Dragons clash in Philly. After losing senior swingman, Chris Fouch, early in the season, the Dragons struggled throughout most of non-conference play. However, now winner of three of their last five games, the Dragons are being consistently led by Damion Lee and Frantz Massenat and look poised to still make a run at the conference crown. But, Drexel will have their hands full with CAA Player of the Year candidate, Jerrelle Benimon, who’s averaging 16.4 points and 11.4 rebounds this season. Being the more complete overall team, the Dragons should be able to defeat their guests.
Hofstra, the only CAA team not in action Saturday, will make their conference play debut on Monday when they play host to Georgia State.
Jake Fischer is the CAA Correspondent for Rant Sports-NCAA Basketball. Make sure to follow Jake on Twitter @JakeLFischer.