Drexel didn’t know it at the time, but their 44 point second half explosion in a 78-61 win over James Madison on Wednesday night actually clinched them the top seed in the CAA Tournament regardless of what happens in this Saturday’s date with Old Dominion.
For that, the Dragons can thanks George Mason, who came into the game tied with Drexel for first place in the conference. But Mason lost in overtime at Northeastern 85-82 when Ryan Pearson, who isn’t exactly known as a three-point shooter but who isn’t exactly a poor three-pointer shooter, missed a wide-open 22-footer from the win that would have sent the game into a second extra period.
So it is with great disdain that we thank the Huskies for turning what could have been an incredible weekend in the CAA into nothing more than a preview for what we can only hope will end up being the semifinals of the CAA Tournament.
You see, on Saturday, George Mason visits VCU. The two teams are tied a game behind Drexel in the standings and played as recently as Valentine’s Day, when George Mason knocked off VCU on a buzzer-beater by Sherrod Wright to cap off one of the most thrilling finishes you’ll ever see. Old Dominion sits a game behind VCU and GMU and they will host Drexel on Saturday which, if Mason had been able to win up in Boston on Wednesday, would have made for quite the thrilling end to the regular season.
Instead, everything is just about set in stone as Patrick Stevens of D1Scourse so artfully lays out. You see, Drexel is locked in at the first seed thanks to the fact that they hold the tiebreaker with both GMU and VCU. And ODU is locked in at the four seed because they are two games up on fifth-place Delaware and got swept by both VCU and GMU.
So regardless of what happens on Saturday, all four of these teams are going to be getting a bye in the CAA Tournament. The only thing that will change is who gets the two-seed and who gets the three-seed, and ironically enough, it may be in Mason’s best interest to lose. Northeastern is going to be the seventh seed and they already have a win over the Patriots. VCU probably wouldn’t complain if that was the way that this thing played out; Georgia State is the sixth seed and already owns a win over VCU, so a Rams loss would pit those two together for a rematch.
This weekend isn’t completely meaningless, however.
There has been some discussion floating around the blogosphere that Drexel has a shot at getting an at-large bid, and its a fair argument to make. They haven’t lost since January 2nd at Georgia State. Prior to that, their last loss was December 3rd at Delaware, their fourth loss in six games as the Dragons battled some early season health issues. Pending a win at Old Dominion — who is always a tough out at home — the Dragons will have won their last 17 games and 23 of their last 24 to take home the outright league title in one of the country’s toughest mid-major conferences.
In my opinion, that’s much more deserving than some power conference also-ran that lost four of their last six but happens to back into an at-large bid because they lost to top ten teams all season long.