The CT/ CAA tournament preview

The Commonwealth Times/ 2010 CAA men’s basketball tournament preview

The CAA tournament kicks off at the Richmond Coliseum this weekend the conference’s 12 teams will meet for an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

This season the Old Dominion Monarchs won the conference regular season tournament, dethroning the VCU Rams who are the three-time defending conference regular season champions.

By winning the conference’s top seed, the Monarchs clinched at least a bid to the National Invitation Tournament.

The remaining teams and their seeds are as follows:

#1: Old Dominion (23-8, 15-3)

#2: Northeastern (14-4,19-11)

#3: William & Mary (20-9, 12-6)

#4: George Mason (17-13, 12-6)

#5: VCU (20-8, 11-7)

#6: Drexel (16-15, 11-7)

#7: Hofstra (18-13, 10-8)

#8: Towson (9-20, 6-12)

#9: UNC Wilmington (9-21, 5-13)

#10: Georgia State (12-19, 5-13)

#11: James Madison (12-19, 4-14)

#12: Delaware (7-23, 3-15)

The CT’s Taylor Howsmon and’s Matt Shelton hosted a preview show breaking down each of the tournament games and predicting the winners. To view the entire preview show, go to Here is a break down of each first and second round match up with a preview of each team.

Friday, March 5, noon: #8 Towson vs. #9 UNC Wilmington

The Tigers finished the 2010 season by winning two straight and four of their final seven. Towson is led in scoring by Josh Thornton (11.1 ppg) and Calvin Lee (10.7 ppg). The Tigers spent most of the year saddled with injuries as starters Robert Nwanko, Brian Morris and Jarrell Smith all missed significant time.

The Seahawks had a rocky season but finished up as the conference’s nine seed. UNCW reassigned coach Benny Moss back on Jan. 29 and has since gone 2-7 under interim replacement Brooks Lee.

Friday, March 5, 2:30 p.m.: #5 VCU vs. #12 Delaware

VCU got off to a bad start in conference play but recovered, earning the fifth seed in this season’s tournament. The three-time defending CAA regular season champ is in unusual territory, as the black and gold hasn’t played in a Friday session since the 2005-2006 season.

Delaware had a nightmarish season in 2010. Monte Ross’ club comes to Richmond losers of 15 of their final 17 games on the season. Jawan Carter and Alphonso Dawson, who combine for over 30 points per game, lead the Blue Hens.

Friday, March 5, 6 p.m.: #7 Hofstra vs. #10 Georgia State

Hofstra comes into the CAA tournament a red-hot team. The Pride are winners of nine out of ten and enter the tournament as a popular Cinderella. Superstar junior and player of year candidate Charles Jenkins, who goes for over 20 points a game, leads them into the tourney.

Georgia State had another somewhat disappointing season as the Rod Barnes experiment continues in Atlanta. The coach leads his talented club into Richmond as an unheralded contender; if they get hot they are capable of making a run.

Friday, March 5, 8:30 p.m.: #6 Drexel vs. #11 James Madison

The Dragons achieved success again under coach Bruiser Flint and enter the tournament with the same seed they had in 2009 before getting upset by Towson in that first-round game. Jaime Harris leads a gritty Drexel bunch to the Coliseum as the team from Philly looks to make a run.

James Madison was without a doubt the CAA’s most disappointing team in 2010. The Dukes, predicted fifth, only won four games in conference and finished 11th. Super-sophomore Julius Wells and transfer Denzel Bowels, two of the CAA’s top players, lead Coach Matt Brady’s team. The injury-laden Dukes have had a tough season, but they are talented enough to make up for it by winning some games in the tournament.

Saturday, March 6, noon: #1 Old Dominion vs. #8 Towson/#9 UNC Wilmington

The Monarchs of Old Dominion completed an impressive season with a senior-day win over VCU. The Monarchs are big athletic and talented and favored to win their first conference tournament since 2004. A confident ODU is lead by potential player of the year Gerald Lee, Kent Bazemore, Ben Finney and Frank Hassell, along with a cast of talented additions. There is no question that the Monarchs are good enough to win the championship, the question is: will they?

Saturday, March 6, 2:30 p.m.: #4 George Mason vs. #5 VCU/#12 Delaware

The Patriots got off to an incredible start in conference, but struggled a bit down the stretch and ended up in the four spot. Cam Long, a sophomore capable of taking over any game, leads Mason. Mike Morrison was also a nice addition to Mason, who has played in the last three CAA finals.

Saturday, March 6, 6 p.m.: #2 Northeastern vs. #7 Hofstra/#10 Georgia State

The Huskies of Northeastern had one of the best seasons in school history and earned the number two seed in the tournament. A talented and experienced team rolls into Richmond like a black-and-red tidal wave. The only thing that says Northeastern isn’t a lock for the title game is history. The Huskies, in the CAA since the 2005-2006 season, haven’t been past the quarterfinals since their first season in the conference. Not to mention they were bounced in their first game in the 2009 tournament by upstart 11-seed Towson.

Saturday, March 6, 8:30 p.m.: #3 William & Mary vs. #6 Drexel/#11 James Madison

The Tribe of William & Mary were the biggest surprise in the CAA, and possibly the biggest surprise in the entire country in 2010. With major wins at Maryland, at Wake Forest and at George Mason, the Tribe is poised for big things. David Schneider and Danny Sumner lead an experienced William & Mary team into Richmond.

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