(Un)Lucky 13

I’m happy with how the scheduling worked out this week. The CAA’s constant clustering makes it impossible to hash out definitive seeding scenarios, but with the 13th collective conference game spread over the three-day midweek stretch preceding Friday the 13th, we’ll get a chance to watch our games more closely than if they were all bunched up on a Wednesday night.

We’ll probably end Thursday night more baffled than ever, but if the Tournament started today, things would be simple. The four teams that are below .500 in league play would play on Friday, while the other six would get an extra day to rest.

But Towson and Delaware are looking to jumble things up tonight, and given the way the season’s played out thus far, we expect one of them to do just that.

Both games are slated for Comcast SportsNet, but if it’s not syndicated in your area, you should be able to see both here.

Towson (4-8) at Drexel (7-5) — Comcast SportsNet — 6:00

Drexel won the first meeting 55-41, but it’s worth noting that Towson has been victorious in its last two trips to The DAC. As one of the more striking moments from Towson’s historic turnaround season (2012-2013), the first one was particularly memorable. You don’t need me to tell you that that was a lost season for Drexel.

Drexel got back to its roots Saturday, holding Charleston below 30% from the field and scoreless (0-of-11) from beyond the arc. It was a reminder that Bruiser Flint’s team still wants to win the same way it’s won for the past 10+ years. Still, there were nits to be picked, as Charleston posted a 37.2% offensive rebounding rate.

That could be problematic against the sixth-best offensive rebounding team in the country. Towson just slaughtered JMU on the offensive boards, and while Drexel isn’t as anemic on the glass, it’s an area where Drexel hasn’t been up to its typically excellent standard. This is part of the reason why Dan Crain hates it when Damion Lee plays the four, as it prevents Lee and the team from playing to its strengths.

So here we are, wondering if Drexel can slow down Towson’s Samme Givens clone, sophomore forward John Davis. Pat Skerry’s tenacious young group has quickly integrated into his system, evidenced by its offensive rebounding successes and propensity to get to the foul line. From the Towson side, the strategy will revolve around letting Davis, Foster, and Parker-Rivera crash the boards in hopes of creating second chances and foul trouble for the Drexel bigs.

But we can’t forget a huge part of the reason why the Tigers get so many offensive caroms – because they miss a lot of shots, as proven by the lowest effective field goal percentage (45.4%) in the league play. The Dragons have actually been worse on the whole season, but we know which team is trending up.

We’re either looking at a sickening crash back to reality, or another reason to #DUBelieve. Even though Pomeroy tells us DrexeI’s overachieving, I just can’t stop believing right now.

Drexel 57, Towson 56

James Madison (7-5) at Delaware (5-7) —Comcast SportsNet — 8:00 

As things stand today, Delaware looks like the primary threat to escape the depths of the standings and avoid a Friday game in Baltimore. Over the past month, the Hens are 5-4 with wins against top-rung fixtures William & Mary and Northeastern. Remember that as a potential tiebreaker. The youthful Hens showed uncommon poise Saturday, as Delaware countered Northeastern’s 10-0 post-halftime spurt with a decisive 16-3 run of its own.

Efficient post play has been at the heart of Delaware’s turnaround as Marvin King-Davis (10.2 points, 5.8 rebounds) and Maurice Jeffers (7.0, 4.2) have given Monté Ross’ team an added dimension in conference play. In UD’s guard-oriented attack, it’s crucial for the big men to make the most of their limited touches. Jeffers scored 20 on Saturday, and has been a big part of the Hens’ resurgence.

James Madison also comes in on a high note, as Ron Curry and Joey McLean parlayed their successful weeks into Player of the Week and Rookie of the Week (shared with Sammy Mojica) honors. Curry’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer at Towson was another sign of his assumption to leadership. It was also the type of skin-of-your-teeth win that validates JMU’s status as KenPom’s 20th most “Lucky” team.

As was the case in the last matchup, we go in expecting the guards (Curry, Anderson, Holden) to get theirs. King-Davis was Delaware’s zone breaker shatterer, as MKD dropped a career-best 31 points. On the other end, JMU forwards Tom Vodanovich and Yohanny Dalembert scored 17 points apiece. JMU beat Delaware 88-82 in Harrisonburg 13 days ago, but if this game plays out like that one did, I’ve got every belief that the Hens will come out on top. Delaware is better equipped to a win games played in the 70s and 80s.

If JMU plays zone, Delaware has proven it can score inside and from the perimeter. Delaware is still horrendous defensively, but the Hens have shown some legitimate offensive balance of late.

Back at The Bob, I expect Delaware to keep the pressure on the 7-5 trio to keep on winnin’.

Delaware 70, James Madison 66

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