Drexel can make Sweet 16 … if it’s in the tournament

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Coming into the CAA Tournament, Drexel was the hottest team in the country.

They had won 23 of their last 24 regular season games — they have just one loss since December 3rd — and have now advanced to Monday night’s CAA title game with a 68-51 win over a good Old Dominion team. Assuming Drexel fails to earn the automatic bid, will that be enough to get the Dragons to the NCAA Tournament? To be frank, I don’t know. It will depend on whether there are any surprise conference tournament winners and how many bubble teams make runs in their respective leagues. If Texas, UConn, Mississippi State and Northwestern all lose in their first game, the door is open. If they all make the semifinals, well, Drexel may end up in trouble.

But I will say this much — after seeing the Dragons in person, there is no doubt in my mind that they are capable of winning a pair of games and making a run to the second weekend.

There are not many teams in the country that are more physical than Bruiser Flint’s club. Its what they pride themselves on. If you cannot defend and you cannot rebound the ball, you will not see the court. The reason that Drexel is able to win games is that they force their opponents to miss shots (they are fourth nationally in defensive effective field goal percentage) and they go and get those misses (they are 12th nationally in defensive rebounding percentage). In simpler terms, they make it hard for you to make shots and they limit you to one shot on a possession.

Not a bad strategy, right?

The difference between Drexel this season and last season, however, is that they have three legitimate scoring threats on their perimeter. Frantz Massenet is an athletic, left-handed driver that leads the team is scoring and assists. Chris Fouch is a gunner, a streaky shooter that is just as likely to hit four or five threes in a row as he is to go 0-8 in a game. The x-factor is Damion Lee, a 6’6″ freshman wing that that will probably be the Player of the Year in the CAA before he graduates. Throw in the presence of Samme Givens on the blocks, and Drexel has four players that average double-figures in points.

They don’t need to score a lot of points with the way that they can defend, so having four players capable of getting 20 on a given night is a luxury.

The Dragons are probably looking at somewhere around a 12 or 13 seed if they do make it in. If they get matched up against a team that doesn’t like physicality and relies on their ability to shoot the ball — maybe an Indiana or a Florida — I would advise you to go with the Dragons.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.