After 198 Colonial Athletic Association men’s basketball matchups, the final standings are set in stone for what was an eventful 2012-2013 season and the matchups are in place for next weekend’s CAA Tournament in Richmond.
After postseason awards are distributed at the conference’s awards banquet on Friday night, six teams will be in action on Saturday in the first round of the competition. The tournament, which will be held in Richmond for the last time following a 23-year run at the Coliseum, will feature a seven-team format this year before moving to Baltimore next season. Thus without further ado, here are my picks for next weekend’s CAA Tournament.
- No. 4 George Mason (17-13, 10-8) vs. No. 5 Drexel (13-17, 9-9)
Many would be surprised to know that this matchup features the top two scoring defenses in the CAA this season. Drexel and Mason rank first and second, respectively, in the CAA in overall season scoring defense at 63.2 points and 64.7 points per game. However, this game will be won on the offensive end. At the end of the day, this game will come down to Drexel’s Frantz Massenat and Damion Lee vs. Mason’s Sherrod Wright. Usually, two is greater than one. Look for the Dragons to pull off the mini-upset.
- No. 2 Delaware (18-13, 13-15) vs. No. 7 Hofstra (7-24, 4-14)
When these two teams last met less than a week ago in Long Island, they battled down to the wire with the Blue Hens narrowly escaping the Mack Sports Complex by one point. While Hofstra may be the one team in this tournament with enough bigs to equalize the Hens’ forces inside, Delaware should be able to rely on Devon Saddler, Jamelle Hagins and Jarvis Threatt – three of arguably the top 15 players in the league – to pull this victory out.
- No. 3 James Madison (17-14, 11-7) vs. No. 6 William & Mary (13-16, 7-11)
Upon tip-off in Richmond, the Dukes and Tribe will square off following their season-finale thriller this past Saturday. This game could prove to be the most exciting of the first round. While these two teams are separated by four games in the conference standings, they possess very similar talent both offensively and defensively. A lot of talk about this game will be focused on the dynamic guards in this matchup, but this game will be won inside. With that, look for Tim Rusthoven to outplay RayShawn Goins and lead his Tribe to victory.
- No. 1 Northeastern (19-11, 14-4) vs. No. 5 Drexel
Interestingly enough, three of the Huskies four losses in CAA play came against teams that are ineligible for the conference tourney. Their other loss came in overtime by just one-point without CAA Player of the Year candidate Joel Smith. Northeastern swept everyone else in the league and, unfortunately for Drexel, they most likely won’t lose to one of those teams at all, let alone in the 2nd Round.
- No. 2 Delaware vs. No. 6 William & Mary
The Tribe may very well have as talented of an inside-out combination as the Hens, and both teams also have coaches looking to prove their worth in this conference. It would be considered an upset if W&M sneaked by Delaware, but this will be a battle until the final buzzer. At the end of the day, one terrific guard will go off in this game. And, unfortunately for the Tony Shaver, it feels like Devon Saddler will by the speedy scorer to do so.
- No. 1 Northeastern vs. No. 2 Delaware
When these two teams last met, the Blue Hens barely beat Northeastern by one point, in overtime, while Smith was on the sidelines following a Threatt NBA-range three pointer. At full strength, the Huskies will be out for revenge, force turnovers and confuse the Blue Hens with multiple defensive formations and an abundance of ball pressure. The only chance Delaware has is if they relentlessly crash the boards. But, this game, and championship, rightfully belongs to NU.
Northeastern. It’s been an incredible year for the Huskies, and if they win the tourney and a few bubble teams come up empty in their respective conference tournaments, you could even see Bill Coen and company as 15-seed in the NCAA Tournament.