Monday, March 9, 2015

Previewing the CAA Final

There have been longstanding rumors (at times verified) that if you want to find a younger member of the Boston Red Sox around 3am during a homestand, you may want to start looking in the dorms and apartments of Northeastern University co-ed's.  A much lessor known fact is that I also considered Northeastern my second home during my collegiate career, albeit with fewer women involved.  I've never had a bad experience on NU's campus, even when the I tried to oversleep the Red Sox 2004 victory parade that I'd flown up just to witness.  Drexel's sister school in co-op, much like Drexel itself, is full of class acts, runs a clean athletics program, and may, according to rumors, have a slightly noncompetitive Athletics Director.  It seems more exact replica than sister school.

And if we're talking about squeaky clean programs, lets talk William and Mary.  Little known fact about Tony Shaver:  The alleged CAA guru's record is 82-132 in regular season CAA play, a 38.3% winning percentage.  After getting 10 wins combined in his first three seasons in the CAA, he's now hit 10 wins a piece in both of the last two campaigns.  That's developing a program.  He has put in the work and the time, brought in good kids and hasn't gone all Tommy Amaker to turn the program into a contender.  If he ever shaves that stache again, Tony will be running the cleanest program in North America, and tonight that program can get over the stigma of being one of the 5 original NCAA members never to have danced come March.  As someone who bleeds clam chowder (side note:  I'm allergic) and Red Sox red and blue, how can I not root for that?  It's ironic and conflicting that the opposition in this game has a fanbase full of fans who can appreciate the Tribe's futility.  It's hard to imagine any Sox fan who was of age in 2004 not rooting for the Tribe, opponent be damned.  This Red Sox fan certainly is.

And it's that underlying guy, that underlying skeptic who never thought the Sox would win and still doesn't think that they can, who will be picking the Northeastern Huskies to win a ticket to the dance tonight.  And it comes down to one simple reason that all Drexel fans can understand:  Defense.  Six of the last seven CAA Champions have been in the top 2 in the league in defensive efficiency.  This year NU came in second in that category.  The Tribe?  Dead last.  And the problems for the Tribe extend well beyond that.

The Pantsless Griffins are a shoot first, ask questions later bunch that Steven Seagal would be proud of.  Both times that they have played the Clothed Huskies, they have been smoked on the boards, and one can expect that to happen again tonight which makes the Tribe's reliance on shooting percentage that much stronger.  Making things worse, William and Mary isn't just in a back to back to back situation when they play today, they are coming off of an epic double overtime 81 possession thriller.  To put that in perspective, Drexel played two triple OT games last year, and neither of those hit 81 possessions.  The Hofstra and William and Mary game was a crowd pleaser, it was an instant classic, but is also was a leg buster.  William and Mary only need to look at Drexel to see how teams with no legs play in the second half of CAA tournament games.  It can get ugly quick.

So we will continue to follow the trend of the season and let the numbers guide us with today's prediction.  But don't forget those 04 Red Sox.  That team was in a whole lot more trouble than this William and Mary team is.  They had to win four straight, two in the Bronx, and they came out clean on the other side.  Sometimes it takes that kind of performance to shake the demons of history.  Some nights the numbers don't mean anything.  Tonight, it's one small sample size over and over again, one possession at a time.

So Why Not The Tribe?

Prediction:  Northeastern 76, William and Mary 67
Alan Boston's Prediction:  William and Mary 78, Northeastern 73
Vegas Line:  William and Mary -1.5

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