Drexel at George Mason (Colonial)
Patriot Center - Fairfax, VA
7:05 PM EST
Leagues at our level generally prefer their parity limited, and to put their best team forward. But the Colonial race, once a three-team race with a round-robin that decided momentary supremacy, is now a deathcore mosh pit. No fewer than seven teams are within two games of the lead with three games remaining until Richmond, and as the CAA's poet laureate noted yesterday
, no school has won this conference with more than four losses since 1997. The two leaders (Northeastern and VCU, both of whom lost Saturday) are already there at 11-4.
After a 1-3 conference start, Drexel (14-10, 10-5) climbed back into this conversation with a seven-game January winning streak. The Dragons are an excellent example of what a little defense and rebounding can do, and no CAA team defends the paint better. A beef injection into the roster in recent years is beginning to pay off; after being swatted around like flies in its first few years of Colonial living, Bruiser Flint has collected a rotation of 6-7 and 6-8 dudes who, well you know, leave black and blue indentations on opponents. With bigs like Evan Neisler
and Kenny Tribbett
, Drexel is grabbing 35.8 boards per game and looks to be a top 30 rebounding team in the first time in, well, they certainly haven't been since I went to school there.
George Mason (17-8, 10-5) has successfully defended its home court all 12 times so far in 2008-09, and have been a less-than-flat 5-8 elsewhere. The Patriots did pull out a close win up in Philadelphia to get the CAA campaign going (a rare U'useless Stat-quality game in which no GMU player reached double figures), but they haven't won on the road outside DelMarVa since then. One thing you can count on is that Jim Larranaga will find some new and exciting way to get his team ready at the tourney, and the last symbolic link to 2006 -- John Vaughan, who spent the Final Four run in street clothes as a redshirt -- is building momentum for a big finish with four straight double-figure games.Basketball State Preview/Box
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