It’s that time of year again! I am of course referring to conference tournament time in college basketball. This week has gotten the ball rolling on several tournaments already, with plenty more set to start in the coming says. One of those that will be starting in the next day will be the that of the Colonial Athletic Association.
Things came down to the end in the Colonial, with two teams finishing just a game apart atop of the conference. But it was UNC Wilmington coming out as the one seed, followed by Charleston who will claim the two. The Seahawks of UNC Wilmington know what March Madness tastes like, having earned a spot a season ago, where they faced Duke. They will look to once again earn that automatic bid.
Things will tip-off on Friday, March 3rd. The rest of the tournament will proceed without a single day off, as they will play a total of four straight days. That will place the conference’s title game on Monday, March 6th at 7:00 pm EST. You can check out the seedings and bracket below.
(1) UNC Wilmington
(4) William & Mary
(7) James Madison
— CAA Basketball (@CAABasketball) February 25, 2017
To kick things off in the CAA, we will see Hofstra and Delaware going at it. Offensively, Hofstra clearly has the edge. The only advantage I see for Delaware is their ability to play defense. But overall, the edge is not nearly as big as the offensive one Hofstra has. So when all is said and done, Hofstra will advance to face UNC Wilmington by the score of 75-66. But their journey stops there. UNCW is one of the better smaller conference teams, from a statistical standpoint. They will come out on top 82-74 as a result.
Their next opponent will come from the William and Mary vs Elon game. This one sets up to be a pretty fun game to watch. Both of these teams are sneaky good sleeper picks in this one, as I could see either one of them pulling off a potential upset or two. But in this one, William and Mary comes out on top by the score of 78-76 and look ahead to pulling off the upset in the next round.
James Madison and Drexel will go head to head, with the winner getting Charleston. This is one of those games that I simply do not like either club. It is a battle of two lower level teams for sure, and I will give the edge to James Madison thanks to free throw shooting. I have them winning 72-71 to advance. Charleston, as a result, will have no issues moving past them however. Now I do not love Charleston as a whole, but they do play solid defense, so they still move on 70-63.
The final game of this round will come in the form of Towson and Northeastern. Towson can absolutely kill it on the boards, but unfortunately for them, that’s the only thing that stands out for them. But that will be enough in this one, as those extra possessions will give them enough opportunities to capitalize on more points. It will be a nail-biter, but Towson does come out on top, 75-73.
Our first semi-final game will pit the conference favorites, UNCW against my sleeper pick William and Mary. William and Mary shoots the ball better and play overall better defense. UNCW does create more possessions, so that will make this a rather even game. My formula says UNCW, but I am sticking to my gut on this one with William and Mary. I think they take this one by the score of 77-76.
Next up we have Towson taking on Charleston for a chance to earn that second spot in the title game. Both teams have certain qualities about them that could certainly lead them to victory. For Towson, it is their ability to rebound. For Charleston, it is their ability to play defense. When all is said and done, I do see Towson pulling off the upset in this one, winning by the score of 72-71.
That makes this championship game one of intrigue, as neither of the top two teams are here (although I have more faith of Charleston losing than I do UNCW). We have the conference’s three and four seed squaring off for a chance at the Big Dance. And this will once again be a good game, with these two going back and forth. When the dust clears however, Towson will find themselves on top 79-78.
So there you have it. What do you think? Am I crazy to be picking against UNCW? Do you believe in any of these teams enough to see them make a run for the CAA’s automatic bid? Tell us in the comments!