Drexel (13-17) vs. George Mason (17-13)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 9, 3:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Richmond Coliseum (11,200) -- Richmond, Virginia. Television: CSN-MA, NE, TCN, CAA. Home Record: Drexel 5-8, GMU 7-6. Away Record: Drexel 7-7, GMU 7-5. Neutral Record: Drexel 1-2, GMU 3-2. Conference Record: Drexel 9-9, GMU 10-8. Series Record: GMU leads, 13-8.
GAMES NOTES: Getting things underway in the 2013 Colonial Athletic Association Tournament will be a matchup between the fifth-seeded Drexel Dragons and the fourth-seeded George Mason Patriots at Richmond Coliseum.
A year ago at this time Drexel rolled into the CAA Tournament as the No. 1 seed after recording a school-record 25 wins during the regular season. The 2012-13 campaign was not so successful for the Dragons who are just 13-17 overall, while having split their 18 league bouts. Drexel did post wins in back-to-back contests to close out the season as it attempts to win its first ever tournament title.
George Mason has been a mainstay in the CAA for years and put together another business as usual campaign this year. The Patriots were one of five teams in the conference with at least 17 wins overall, while securing the fifth seed with a league mark of 10-8. The Patriots have headed in the opposite direction of the Dragons recently with losses in two straight games to end the season. The Patriots would have their fifth conference title if they managed to make a run this season.
Interestingly enough these teams split the season series this year with the road team actually coming out on top in both cases. George Mason now leads the all-time series, 13-8. Whichever team manages to win this contest has an even tougher test in the next round against top-seed Northeastern.
In its regular-season finale Drexel hounded UNC-Wilmington to secure a 62-49 victory. Daryl McCoy hung up 13 points and 17 rebounds and Dartaye Ruffin ripped down 14 boards as the Dragons had a 56-28 edge on the boards, while holding the Seahawks to just 35.2 percent shooting.
Just like their league record the Dragons have fought to about even on the scoreboard this season with a razor thin scoring margin (+0.1). Defensive strength was a holdover from last season as the team holds foes to just 63.2 points per game but the Dragons just haven't been able to figure out the offensive end very often. Frantz Massenat (14.6 ppg, 4.2 apg) was a big reason for the Dragons' success last year and has been one of the very few reasons the Dragons have stayed afloat this year. Also in the backcourt, Damion Lee (17.4 ppg) has actually been more prolific as a scorer but Massenat's ball handling and distribution can't be overlooked.
A 6-0 spurt in the final minute by Delaware resulted in George Mason's 82-77 letdown in the season finale. The Patriots did have a 33-18 edge from beyond the arc but got outscored in the paint (26-16) and from the free-throw line (26-14).
Sherrod Wright (16.5 ppg, 4.9 rpg) is the heart and soul of this team as well as its only double-figure scorer. Wright bounced back from a slump at the end of February in posting his 12th 20-point game of the season against Delaware. Jonathan Arledge (8.0 ppg) is the next best scoring option for the Patriots, who like the Dragons, have been more successful as a defensive unit, while finding balance on offense with seven players putting in at least five points per game. George Mason has held foes to just 40.6 percent shooting on the campaign and to less than 65 points per game.
The two contests between these teams this season were decided by a combined 10 points. This should be another grueling defensive battle that will go down to the wire. Give the slight edge to the Patriots in what is really a toss up.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: George Mason 68, Drexel 66
03/09 10:44:56 ET