After having to miss last year’s Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) tournament due to low APR scores under a previous administration, the Towson University basketball team will finally get to take the floor in postseason action this weekend.
The Tigers finished the season with a Division 1 school record 22-9 (13-3 CAA) campaign. That was good enough for second place in the league and the No. 2 seed in the tournament which begins tonight at First Mariner Arena in downtown Baltimore.
James Madison University the defending CAA champions will be the Tigers opponent in the first round game played at 6:00 PM tomorrow night, as the third game in the four game slate. The Dukes lost a lot of players from that Championship team, but bring in a very talented young group, that played the Tigers tough in the two conference games this year, before ultimately losing both contests.
Below is a look at the matchups for the first round game tonight and the quarterfinal matchups that take place tomorrow, the teams CAA record is in parenthesis.
First Round: #8 Hofstra 9-22 (5-11) vs. #9 UNCW 9-22 (3-13) Friday night at 7:00 PM
Hofstra swept the regular season series between the two teams, winning 69-64 in Wilmington, and 61-52 at home. The Pride are led by graduate student transfer Zeke Upshaw who was selected to the All CAA 2nd team at last night’s awards banquet. He was second in the league in scoring at 19.6 points per game.
UNCW, lost its first 10 conference games before finally breaking through with a surprise win against Towson in Wilmington on February 10th. The Seahawks started using a five man substitution plan during that game. In doing so they finished the last six games of the season with a 3-3 record. Junior Cedric Williams is the leading scorer for UNCW putting in 11 points per game.
Saturday 12:00 PM #1 Delaware 22-9 (14-2) vs. Hofstra/UNCW winner
The Blue Hens come into the tournament off the most successful regular season ever for a Delaware basketball team. As a result Head Coach Monte Ross was voted CAA Coach Of The Year. Delaware started the conference season 11-0 before losing to Towson 78-63 at SECU Arena in February. Devon Saddler a senior leads a dynamic scoring attack with 20.2 points per game. Baltimore native Davon Usher a graduate student transfer from Mississippi Valley State added 19.4 points per game, good enough for third in the CAA. Jarvis Threatt missed six games due to a suspension which did not allow him to qualify for league leaders but he averaged 17.9 points a game.
In addition junior Kyle Anderson (11.1) and senior Carl Baptiste (10.9) gave the Blue Hens five players scoring in double figures.
Saturday 2:30 PM #4 Drexel 16-13 (8-8) vs. #5 Northeastern 10-20 (7-9)
Drexel battled injuries all season long, at one point having four starters miss multiple games. The biggest injury came in the pre-season when junior guard Damion Lee a pre-season favorite to be 1st team all CAA tore an ACL that would cause him to miss the entire year.
Despite the injuries, the Dragons predicted to finish second in the CAA polls were able to secure a No. 4 seed. Drexel is led by first team All CAA guard Frantz Massenat a senior who led the team in scoring (17.4) and the CAA in assist with 4.8 assist per game.
Northeastern features all CAA Defensive Player of the Year Scott Eatherton, who battled the Tigers Jerrelle Benimon most of the year for the nations lead in double/doubles before finishing second to Benimon in that category with 18. Eatherton put up 15.5 points and grabbed 10.1 rebounds per game for the Huskies.
The two teams split the season series.
Saturday 6:00 PM #2 Towson 22-9 (13-3) vs. #7 James Madison 11-19 (6-10)
We’ve already talked about the matchup earlier, so I’ll just add some of the awards the Tigers picked up at the dinner last night.
Jerrelle Benimon: CAA Player of the Year, First Team ALL CAA, All CAA Defensive Team
Marcus Damas: All CAA Third Team
Rafriel Guthrie: All CAA Third Team
Timajh Parker-Rivera: CAA All Academic Team, CAA Dean Ehlers Leadership Award
Coach Pat Skerry was also one of only three coaches that received votes for Coach of the Year, along with Tony Shaver of William & Mary and Ross.
Saturday 8:30 PM #3 William & Mary 18-11 (10-6) vs. #6 College of Charleston 14-17 (6-10)
The Tribe spent a good part of the year either tied or just one game behind Towson for second place in the CAA before going 3-3 in its final six games. However, two of those losses came at the hands of Towson. The Tigers defeated the Tribe 85-70 on the 15th of February, and closed out the regular season with a thrilling 70-68 win at SECU last Saturday.
William and Mary is led by First Team All CAA Guard Marcus Thornton, who finished 5th in the CAA with 18.6 points per game, and led all CAA players with 85 three-pointers on the season. The Tribe also feature the Rookie of the Year for the CAA in freshman Omar Prewitt.
College of Charleston is a newcomer to the CAA this year and found the quality of the teams in the CAA was much deeper than the Southern Conference in which it left after last season.
The Cougars are led by senior Willis Hall (12.2) and they allowed the fewest points scored per game at 62.5 of any team in the conference.
The quarterfinals are sure to produce a lot of what the regular season featured, close games that come down to the last few possessions, and possibly overtimes. While Delaware and Towson are the decided favorites, and a lot of people would consider a Tigers/Blue Hens finals matchup a marquee event on Monday night, there are seven other teams that feel they are very capable of ruining the hopes of either the No.1 or No. 2 seed.