Give the CAA tourney a chance this week, ok Baltimore?

March 07, 2014 | Drew Forrester

For years I campaigned with (former) Athletic Directors at Towson University to bring the CAA men’s basketball tournament to Baltimore.

They liked the idea, too, but just didn’t have the wherewithal to initiate a venue change when so many of the conference’s “power schools” were in Virginia and the annual tournament was held in the Richmond.

I’d argue that you could get more people in the Baltimore Arena (11,500) than the Richmond Coliseum (9,000) even though, having been down there for the tournament, I knew firsthand the building was almost never actually filled up with spectators.  In fact, depending on who would advance to the title game, anyone but VCU or ODU in the final would just about guarantee the place would barely be half filled for the Monday night final.  Fortunately for the conference, those two schools factored in the final a lot over the last decade.

Now, with the “big three” gone, the conference has finally shifted its sights north and the CAA tournament begins tonight at the Arena.  It’s the start of a 3-year contract and conference officials will certainly be looking long and hard at the support given to the event both by Baltimore and the schools (nine of them) themselves.

In case you’ve been in a cave since November, Towson University has a very good team and a REAL chance to be playing in the championship game on Monday night.  Jerrelle Benimon captured his 2nd straight CAA Player-of-the-Year award last night on the eve of the tournament, which begins this evening with UNC-Wilmington and Hofstra doing battle.

Towson plays James Madison tomorrow night in their opener at 6pm.

It’s win and move on, lose and go home.

For the Tigers, three wins sends them to the NCAA tournament.

The University of Delaware won the regular season crown and split two games with the Tigers.  They’re seeded #1 in the tournament, while Towson is the #2 seed.

It would be a dream setting for the CAA on several levels if those two were to meet on Monday night.  Delaware would easily travel upwards of 1,000 down I-95 for the final and Towson’s sports community might even come to life and help pack the Baltimore Arena.

On the flip side, if it’s somehow James Madison and Northeastern – for example – on Monday night, there might be 2,000 people in the place.  Might be.

It would be great to see Baltimore put its best foot forward and support the championship tournament of the CAA this weekend.

I’ll be there.  I hope you will be, too.