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Colonial First Round Preview

March 5, 2004 Conference Notes No Comments




Colonial First Round Preview

Preview by Toni Jainez

In a tournament, it is rule by definition that each team has a legit shot at winning the championship. We all know that this “rule” can be far from truth, as there is always a “favorite” to win. With seven teams at or above .500 in conference play, the CAA Tournament’s field of ten teams is wide open–each team actually DOES have a legit shot at winning.

Played in Richmond, Virginia, the CAA tournament will prove to be one of the most competitive in the nation. Each of the top six seeds will begin tournament play Saturday in the quarterfinals. The remaining four seeds, No. 7 UNC Wilmington (13-14, 9-9 CAA–defending CAA Champions), No. 8 William and Mary (7-20, 4-14 CAA), No. 9 Towson (7-20, 4-14 CAA), and No. 10 James Madison (7-20, 3-15 CAA), will play tonight in the first round of the CAA tournament.

No. 8 William & Mary Tribe vs. No. 9 Towson Tigers
Both teams have finished the regular season with identical records of 7-20 overall and 4-14 in CAA play. William & Mary’s squad is led by first team All-CAA senior forward Adam Hess, who is the leading scorer in the conference. Joining Hess in the frontcourt is freshman forward Corey Cofield, who has earned Rookie of the Year honors this season. Towson is led by senior guard Jamaal Gilchrist, who scored 24 points in a Tiger victory over James Madison on Senior Night. Towson’s win over James Madison was their first after losing eleven straight games. William & Mary, on the other hand, has been a lot more competitive in games, but has had trouble closing them out.

Towson has strong defensive players inside but has less of an advantage on offense. Only two players average double figures in points for the Tigers, who average 60.8 points per contest. The Tribe, however, has strong offensive players (especially inside), but seem to lose games on the defensive end. W&M averages 71.9 points per game, but allows 76.9 points. If W&M can pick up their intensity inside the paint on defense, then they should win this game and advance to play No. 1-Virginia Commonwealth in Saturday’s quarterfinal.

Previous Meetings:
January 14, 2004 – Towson 73, William & Mary 67
February 18, 2004 – William & Mary 74, Towson 68

Prediction – William & Mary 75, Towson 72

No. 7 UNC Wilmington Seahawks vs. No. 10 James Madison
UNC Wilmington is playing in their first “play-in” matchup in the school’s history. This matchup is a testament to the overall competitiveness of the Colonial this year (to have it’s defending champion in the first round). UNCW (13-14, 9-9 CAA) has won nine conference games compared to James Madison (7-20, 3-15 CAA) only winning three. UNCW has won three of their last five conference games, including wins over No. 5-seed Hofstra (64-56) and over the Dukes on the road 66-56. James Madison has struggled in conference since winning an impressive game at home over in-state rival George Mason (No. 3-seed). The Dukes have dropped six straight games including their last home game of the season against the No. 2-seed Drexel (59-62). JMU closed out the season at Towson, losing by 20 points, 74-54.

UNCW should win this game, having beating the Dukes twice this season by an average of 14 points. However, the Dukes have nothing to lose and have something that UNCW does not have: confident shooters. What UNCW lacks on the offensive end, they more than make up for on the defensive end. But in a close game tonight, the Seahawks will need someone to step up and make shots for them. If the Seahawks can get production on offense, then they should win this game easily.

Previous Meetings:
January 1, 2004 – UNC Wilmington 69, James Madison 51
February 14, 2004 – UNC Wilmington 66, James Madison 56

Prediction – UNC Wilmington 67, James Madison 59

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