Conference Tournament Primer: Colonial Athletic AssociationPosted by Tommy Lemoine on March 7th, 2014
Championship Fortnight continues with two more conference tourneys tipping off today, so what better way to get you through the next week-plus of games than to break down each of the Other 26′s postseason events. Today, the CAA and SoCon get started.
Dates: March 7-10
Site: Baltimore Arena (Baltimore, MD)
What to expect: Help may have arrived just in time for Delaware. After starting 11-0 in conference play, the Blue Hens dropped two of their final five games and appeared vulnerable without starting point guard Jarvis Threatt and key reserve Marvin King-Davis, each suspended at the end of January. Both players have since returned to the court and will likely prove much-needed in the team’s run for the automatic bid. It won’t come easy: Towson, the preseason league favorite, enters the tournament on a six-game winning streak and is equipped with the conference’s best player, Jerrelle Benimon. Since the event will be held in Baltimore instead of Richmond this year, both teams should feel comfortable — Towson is right down the road, and Delaware’s campus is only one hour away. Drexel and William & Mary could be semifinal threats, but expect a Hens-Tigers championship game on Monday night.
Favorite: Delaware. The Hens have yet to lose a conference game in which Threatt plays, so there’s really no reason to bet against the top seed this weekend. Three starters score more than 17.0 points per game, all five average double figures, and the team as a whole takes care of the basketball — Delaware’s offensive turnover rate ranks fifth in the country. If Monté Ross’ full-strength club continues rolling on the offensive end, it will go dancing.
Darkhorse: Drexel. Drexel beat Delaware two weeks ago and nearly took down Towson earlier in the year, so despite falling victim to injuries (again) this season – star guard Damion Lee tore his ACL in November and key big man Kazembe Abif went down in February – the Dragons are capable of causing trouble. If they get past Northeastern in the quarterfinals, the Hens should be on high alert.
Who wins: Delaware. This team is healthy, experienced and not about to miss a chance for its first NCAA Tournament berth in 15 years. The Hens will surely be tested – by Drexel, Towson, whichever – but that’s where the myriad scoring options will come into play; you may be able to shut down Saddler or Threatt or Davon Usher, but probably not all three. In what could be a really good title game, expect Ross’ guys to cut down the nets.
Player to Watch: Jerelle Benimon – Towson. The former Georgetown forward has dominated the Colonial this season, averaging 18.9 points, 11.7 boards, 3.7 assists, 1.3 blocks and recording an NCAA-best 20 double-doubles. In two games against Delaware, Benimon combined for 54 points and 34 rebounds. Chances are he’ll fill up the stat sheets this weekend in Baltimore.
Bubble Implications: None.