Pick a Side

I hear there’s a debate raging regarding the potential CAA Player of the Year. We’ll get a great look at the two headliners on Senior Day at Kaplan. But on a night when the only two league games just so happen to feature both players, everyone gets a chance to formulate opinions.

Drexel (5-5) at Elon (3-7) — Video Stream — 7:00

The Dragons could be tied for fourth by Thursday’s end, but as Dan Crain notes in his astute preview, the Phoenix plays a style that will force Drexel to play faster than it wants to play. That proved to be problematic for Drexel in the first matchup, because when Elon drilled 10 3-pointers in the first half, Drexel tried to keep pace and ended up committing 19 turnovers.

Things are considerably different now as Elijah Bryant, who scored 32 in the first matchup, has adopted the kind of high-volume chucking that makes J.R. Smith look efficient. Bryant tries to do too much, and Matt Matheny seems to realize he needs to pump the brakes on the stud freshman. Ironically, Elon’s lone win in the past seven games came in Bryant’s first collegiate start – a game in which Elon scored 92 points and Bryant was limited to 17 minutes.

A three-game homestand proved to be quite fruitful for Drexel, as the Dragons put the CAA on notice when they downed Northeastern and UNCW in consecutive games. Damion Lee has been the CAA’s single most dominant player, Sammy Mojica has brought offense and stability to the point guard spot, and Rodney Williams chipped in his best offensive game just two games after his month-long layoff.

The concerns about Drexel and game pace are valid, but Bru’s crew just won a 71-possession game against a UNCW team that’s 8-3 in league play. That’s an obvious anomaly, but with burgeoning confidence and the best player on the floor, I think the Dragons can find success in their first trip to Elon.

Drexel 67, Elon 66

William & Mary (8-2) at Charleston (1-9) — Video Stream — 7:30

William & Mary has shot 55.1% over its past six games, and now owns the nation’s 19th best offense (KenPom). The offensive brilliance was on full display last Saturday, as the Tribe went down to Harrisonburg and throttled JMU’s zone with quick passes to the foul line and outlet passes out to open shooters. Thornton and Omar Prewitt started the avalanche in the first half, and Daniel Dixon and Terry Tarpey kept it going even when JMU had switch to man defense.

It was the kind of full-fledged team domination that has people doubting Marcus Thornton’s credentials for CAA Player of the Year. Dixon and Prewitt combined to take twice as many shots as Thornton, and for good reason. The sophomore duo scored 46 points on just 24 field goal attempts. The big question coming into the season was how much of the burden Thornton would be asked to bare, and that hasn’t been a concern of late.

Now the Tribe strolls down to Charleston, where it’ll face a Cougar team whose last seven losses have been by six points or less. Anything can happen in this league, and while a last-place over first-place upset would be the ultimate poetic justice, it’s hardly likely. Like Bill & Mary, Charleston is also super dependent upon three-point shooting.

You can’t pick against Thornton & Co. in a potential shootout.

Tribe 70, Cougars 62

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