Old Dominion Monarchs
William & Mary Tribe
What They’re Playing For: The William & Mary Tribe will try to take a bubble spot away from the field by knocking off the Old Dominion Monarchs in the Colonial Athletic final.
How They Got Here: William & Mary defeated James Madison 70-65 & Northeastern 47-45. Old Dominion defeated Towson 86-56 & VCU 73-69.
Who to Watch: Keep an eye on G David Schneider for the Tribe. He only scored a very quiet three points against Northeastern, but he came up huge against JMU with a 23-point effort. The Monarchs’ G Gerald Lee scored 26 in the overtime victory against Virginia Commonwealth, and he is leading the squad in scoring at 14.8 points per game.
Previous Meetings: January 23rd – Old Dominion 58 – William & Mary 55, February 3rd – Old Dominion 61 – William & Mary 42
What to Expect: This one won’t be for the faint of heart. Both defenses should be swarming all over the court. Look for the Tribe to make bubble dwellers cringe a bit, as they upset the Monarchs, which will likely give the CAA two bids to the dance instead of just one.
What They’re Playing For: Siena may deserve a bid to the NCAA Tournament even with a loss in this game, but just like the likes of Northern Iowa and Old Dominion, the Saints won’t want to take any chances. The Stags are going to try to stop them from grabbing their third straight MAAC Championship.
How They Got Here: Fairfield defeated Canisius 67-57 & Niagara 69-63. Siena defeated Manhattan 78-61 & Rider 72-62.
Who to Watch: If the Stags are winning this game, G Derek Needham is going to have to play well on both sides of the court. He has already put up 46 points in two games in this tournament and hasn’t been held out of double digits in scoring but once this season (vs. Holy Cross). Siena has an entire squad full of veterans, but leading assist man G Ronald Moore must take care of the basketball for the Saints to prevail. Moore has a fantastic 2.66 assist/turnover ratio and is the fifth leading scorer for this team.
Previous Meetings: January 16th – Siena 81 – Fairfield 73, February 8th – Siena 69 – Fairfield 67
What to Expect: It’s just highly unlikely to see the Saints lose this game. Siena is built for these runs to play multiple games in very few nights, and especially playing in front of their home crowd at the Times Union Center, they should be able to celebrate another #11 or #12 seed in March Madness with a guaranteed ticket to the dance.
Appalachian State Mountaineers
What They’re Playing For: These were the top two teams in the Southern Conference for the majority of the season, and they’ll rightfully square off in a battle for the SoCon’s automatic ticket to the NCAA Tournament.
How They Got Here: App State defeated The Citadel 71-61 & Charleston 77-54. Wofford defeated UNC-Greensboro 59-47 & Western Carolina 77-58.
Who to Watch: The ‘Neers are led by G Kellen Brand, who has been on absolute fire during this tournament. Brand only averaged 10.8 points per game this season, but he has dropped 52 points and picked up 13 boards in the two App State victories. Wofford’s main man is F Noah Dahlman, who logged a double-double with ten points and ten boards against the Catamounts.
Previous Meetings: December 7th – Appalachian State 77 – Wofford 76
What to Expect: Look for Wofford to avenge that regular season loss at home to App State by coming out and thumping it this time around. The Mountaineers have enough scoring threats to hang with the Terriers, but the hosts of this tournament just have too much defensive presence to be denied a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
St. Mary’s Gaels
What They’re Playing For: Is it ultimately nothing more than a piece of hardwood? Both the St. Mary’s Gaels and the Gonzaga Bulldogs have to feel good about their chances to reach the NCAA Tournament, though St. Mary’s would have three losses to the Zags on its resume with a defeat and could have reason to be sent to the NIT.
How They Got Here: St. Mary’s defeated Portland 69-55. Gonzaga defeated Loyola-Marymount 77-62.
Who to Watch: F Omar Samhan averaged a double-double this season with 21.5 points and 11.0 rebounds per game. He had a pedestrian effort against the Pilots on Sunday though, scoring just 16 points. G Matt Bouldin is the heart and soul of the Zags. He put up 12 points on Sunday, but he still averaged 16.0 points per game this year.
Previous Meetings: January 14th – Gonzaga 89 – St. Mary’s 82, February 11th – Gonzaga 80 – St. Mary’s 61
What to Expect: Poor St. Mary’s is going to be thrown to the wolves once again in this game. For whatever reason, the Gaels just can’t figure out how to knock off the Zags, as it has been six straight defeats in this series against their WCC rivals. Gonzaga will be too strong offensively, and even though it should be a close call, HC Mark Few should add another West Coast Conference crown to his already loaded career resume.