Saturday, February 28, 2009

Last Wacky Regular Season Day in the CAA, Plus the Purple Eagles Bounce Siena and It's Senior Day!

Today is the last regular season day for the CAA. Six days from now, eight "bye-challenged" teams will battle it out in two sessions to see who can get to the second round. But going into today, as noted in our previous column, there are a lot of seedings still to be decided. It's been truly a wacky season in the CAA, where chalk often doesn't matter and why should the last day be any different?! Here's how I think it goes in order of when the games start.

2 pm - JMU vs. Delaware - These are two guard oriented teams that might get into a scoring fest. I think JMU wants that sixth seed more than Delaware wants to escape tenth. Dukes win, which is going to setup something truly wacky. Follow the progression.

4pm - UNCW vs. Hofstra - This is a game that means a lot to the Pride. Senior Day, with six seniors graduating (more on that later) and a chance, albeit needing some help, to finish fourth and get the last bye spot. The Pride will get it done and for once, they won't add to their incredible record when the game is decided by five points or less.

4pm - Georgia State vs. VCU - This game is very very interesting. This could very well be a preview of a second round CAA tournament game as Georgia State is locked into eighth and VCU can be the #1 seed with a win today. The Panthers have won four in a row and five out of six and Regarding the Underdog correctly says Georgia State is dangerous, while VCU is slowly becoming a very frustrating team to watch, having split their last four games. The Spiegel Center is a somewhat more of a home advantage than Richmond Coliseum, so I think that will be the difference today in a very close game as the Rams clinch the #1 seed.

6pm - ODU vs. Northeastern - Litos first reported ODU's Gerald Lee injuring his foot during practice and thus why he sat out against the Mary. Its being reported as a strain, but its a two pronged question of whether he will play and if so, how effective he will be. The Monarchs desperately need this game and Northeastern might only be playing for the #2 seed by the time this game starts. Still it's senior day for the Huskies and they want to go into the tourney as the #2 seed. Huskies win another close one, setting up a wild end to the day.

7pm - Drexel vs William and Mary - This is a game that Drexel needs to win. The Dragons are coming off a heartbreaking last second loss to Northeastern at home. If Bruiser can't stop them from finding out, the Dragons should know at halftime the outcome of the ODU vs Huskies game. Nothing like a big letdown, a little pressure and remember, it's senior day for the Mary. Those are ingredients for a storm and finally, the Dragons are the perfect team for the Mary, a defensive styled team that can't shoot straight. Perfect team for the final ingredient for the perfect storm. So in a game that will be low scoring, the Mary pull off the upset.

8pm - Towson vs. George Mason - This will be the anticlimatic game that you can watch on ESPN 360 where the Patriots on Senior Day smack around the defensively challenged Tigers. Mason gets the #3 seed.

So I am predicting that VCU, Northeastern, Mason and hold your hat, Hofstra get the automatic byes. ODU is fifth, JMU is sixth and poor Drexel drops all the way to seventh. Of course I could be dead wrong, but seeing how wacky the CAA has been this season, there has to be one final wild regular season scenario to be played out. So why not this one. We'll find out.

Last night I watched Niagara unfortunately put a dent into the Siena at large bid bandwagon and I am afraid some NCAA tourney committee members watching the game on ESPNU might have jumped off. It was a very entertaining game watching both teams go up and down the court, scoring a combined 185 points in the process. As all of you may know, I am a big fan of Niagara, but Siena's defense was awfully lacking as the Purple Eagles seemingly could not be stopped driving to the basket. Niagara shot 52 percent from the field which included all five Purple Eagle starters scoring in double figures and the Purple Eagles bench outscored Siena's 24-6. Bilal Benn led Niagara with 21 points while Siena's Ronald Moore led all scorers with 23 points. Kenny Hasbrouck had a night to really forget shooting 2 of 20 from the field for 5 points. The rest of Siena shot 28 of 51 from the field (55 percent).

I know this is sacrilege coming from someone who covers the CAA religiously, but if you give me a choice to see a live championship game between Niagara- Siena or George Mason -VCU (now I am not saying that's my championship game in the CAA..yet) , I'd say I would probably take the Purple Eagles and the Saints.

As noted, today is Senior Day for many schools. I am fortunate that I will see two. My friend Tony Bozzella's Iona Lady Gaels host a home game at 2pm today vs. Saint Peter's in a game that decides fourth place in the MAAC Women's BBall. Iona has only one graduating senior, Naeemah Ricketts. Congrats Naeemah! Then at halftime of that game, we leave for Hempstead as Hofstra hosts UNCW in as noted a potentially critical game for the last bye spot in the CAA tournament. Hofstra graduates SIX seniors; Arminas Urbutis, Zygis Sestokas, Dane Johnson, Darren Townes, Greg Johnson and Mike Davis Sabb. Congrats guys! The game will be on MSG+, so get the popcorn and watch the game!

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