Conference Tourney Primers: Colonial

Posted by Tommy Lemoine on March 6th, 2015

We’re in the midst of Championship Fortnight, so let’s gear up for the continuing action by breaking down each of the Other 26’s conference tournaments as they get under way.

CAA Tournament

Dates: March 6-9

Site: Royal Farms Arena (Baltimore, MD)

(cbssports.com)

(cbssports.com)

What to expect: Could this be William & Mary’s year? The Tribe, one of only five original Division I programs to never make the NCAA Tournament, heads to Baltimore with the Colonial’s top seed and most dangerous offensive attack. Senior Marcus Thornton and his sharpshooting teammates boast the 5th-best effective field goal percentage in college hoops and 30th-most efficient offense. But they also give up a lot of points and the separation between the Tribe and their three co-champs – UNC-Wilmington, Northeastern and James Madison – seems minimal. To complicate matters further, all four teams lost one of their final two regular season games, so it’s hard to attribute ‘momentum’ to any one contender. After a season defined by parity, expect a tournament defined by parity. This one is up for grabs.

Favorite: William & Mary. This team is not balanced – its defense can be downright awful at times – but when everything is clicking offensively, William & Mary is hard to stop. Not only is Thornton the most dynamic scorer in the conference (19.4 PPG), but his frontcourt running-mate, 6’5” Terry Tarpey, might be one of the most underrated forwards in America. The junior leads his team in rebounds, assists, steals and blocks. Plus, the Tribe will avoid facing Northeastern, Delaware and Drexel – teams which accounted for two-thirds of its CAA losses – until the title game (if then).

Darkhorse: Hofstra. Hofstra shoots a ton of three-pointers and is loaded with guards who can make them. Ameen Tanksley (16.7 PPG) and Brian Bernardini (11.9 PPG) each shoot better than 41 percent from distance, while point guard Juan’ya Green’s ability to penetrate and facilitate makes the offense tick (17.0 PPG, 6.5 APG). If the Pride gets hot from behind the arc in Baltimore, it can win this thing. If you’re looking for a deep darkhorse, consider eighth-seeded Elon – the only squad currently on a multi-game winning streak.

Who wins: William & Mary. It’s nearly impossible to handicap this tournament; several different teams are capable of winding up on top. But after coming up short in heartbreaking fashion last season, look for William & Mary to be extra motivated and finally get over that NCAA Tournament hump.

Player to watch: Marcus Thornton – William & Mary. Thornton has long dreadlocks, a ridiculous stepback move and can score in bunches. And you won’t see many guys elevate on their jump shot quite like the senior does.

Tommy Lemoine (232 Posts)


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