The previous regime refrained from making picks in the non-NCAA postseason tournaments. We’ll follow their lead, but we’ll still try to give you some keys to the games.
Tough opponents await both George Mason and Northeastern, but they have the personnel in place to make us proud.
CBI 1st round: George Mason (18-14) at College of Charleston (24-10) – 7:00
Before you read any further, head over here and check out what Ryan Kish has to say. When it comes to GMU Hoops, he’s more knowledgable than we’ll ever be.
I’ve seen some joking about the CBI on Twitter. There are some talented squads in this field. I’m already hoping for a Richmond-Mason rematch in the final. It was great the first time around.
This matchup presents a phenomenal opportunity to see two likely contenders for the CAA conference crown in 2013-2014. The only difference is that Andrew Lawrence, the Cougars’ all-around leader, is a senior. Mason’s leading scorer Sherrod Wright won’t make his senior tour until next year, which is bad news for the rest of the CAA.
We’re all anxious to see if Bryon Allen can build on his late-season success. Allen has scored 14+ points in four of his last five games. He’s been one of the better assist guys in the CAA over the past two years. Add the scoring ability to the assisting prowess, and this guy looks to be poised for a huge senior year.
College of Charleston lost in the Southern Conference final to Davidson. The Cougars had an up and down regular season, evidenced by a win at Baylor (back when the Bears were perceived as good) and a loss to D-II Anderson.
The Cougars really hit stride after their first loss to Davidson in late January, and finished the season by winning 12 of 15 (with two more losses to Davidson). They played a couple of games versus the Colonial in the nonconference schedule.
College of Charleston beat Towson by 17 in the season opener, but that was before the Tigers realized they were good. The Cougars also beat Old Dominion by 11 on December 18th.
The Cougars hold opponents to 61.6 points per game, so it’s safe to say defense is their hallmark. They pull in defensive rebounds at a Drexel-esque rate of 75.7% (13th in the country). They don’t give many second chances.
I’m not worried about the Patriots in that aspect. With proper effort, they can rebound with anyone. Here’s the one stat that really seems to work against them, and it’s nitpicky: the Cougars average 14.6 personal fouls per game (10th fewest in the country).
At this point, you know the Patriots commit fouls at a slightly inordinate rate.
Still, if we get the All-CAA Tournament version of Allen with an invigorated Wright, I like Mason’s chances.
NIT #8 Northeastern (20-12) at #1 Alabama (21-12) – 9:00 ESPN 2
The Huskies have traveled a lot this season.
The Huskies spent Thanksgiving in Alaska and trekked down to Birmingham for their nonconference finale.
That’s not unusual for the CAA’s northernmost team. Now they’ll take one more lengthy trip down south.
The Huskies have experienced mixed results when playing more than 1000 miles from home. They played well in the Great Alaskan Shootout, but lost by 20 at UAB on December 29th, the last game before they began their eight-game winning streak to open conference play.
The Huskies hope that their second trip to Alabama this season will be much better than their first. With a healthy Jon Lee intact, I expect that will be the case.
What does Alabama do well? The Crimson Tide plays great defense, holding opponents to an average of 59.3 points per game. Opponents average just 4.9 treys per game against the Crimson’s Tide three-point defense, which ranks 37th in the country (30.6%).
Alabama was 12-6 in the SEC, and probably could have made the tournament with one more conference win. The Crimson Tide has a 14-3 record at home this season. Meanwhile, Northeastern is 10-2 on the road this season.
The Huskies shoot 37.3% (41st in the country) from downtown, and average 7.1 threes per game. Northeastern’s efficient offense will provide a true test for the Crimson Tide defense.
Both teams boast impressive steal percentages. Northeastern earns steals on 10.4% of defensive possessions (33rd nationally). Alabama earns steals on 11.2% of play (14th).
Thus, it seems like this will come down to three-point shooting and turnover margin. Joel Smith and Jon Lee, the Huskies’ senior guards, have the experience advantage here, as Alabama has only one senior.
Also worth considering: Northeastern will he playing its first game in eight days. Alabama just played in SEC semifinal on Saturday.
The CAA first-teamer Smith fouled out early in the CAA Championship. Look for the silent assassin to extract revenge in Alabama.