Womhoops Guru

Mel Greenberg covered college and professional women’s basketball for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he worked for 40 plus years. Greenberg pioneered national coverage of the game, including the original Top 25 women's college poll. His knowledge has earned him nicknames such as "The Guru" and "The Godfather," as well as induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.

Monday, March 05, 2018

It’s Official - Drexel’s The One As CAA Tourney Pairings Are Announced

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

Though it seemed unlikely to land any other way, Drexel officially became the top seed Sunday morning for this week’s Colonial Athletic Association tournament at the Dragon’s Daskalakis Athletic Center once the daily RPI indicator was released to determine the tiebreak with preseason favorite James Madison after the two schools Saturday completed the regular season as co-champions with identical 16-2 records and a split in their two meetings.

The ranking for Drexel, which had a competitive non-conference schedule, of which it did well, even to the surprise of coach Denise Dillon, a former Villanova star, was 45 while JMU was listed as 64.

Dillon, back near the start of the season, with a very young roster was dubious what her team might do at the outset.

“We’ll take our lumps but I feel we will be better in the long run,” she said at the time.

But after some early losses to Power Five schools, Drexel got going, marked by wins over local rivals La Salle at home and Saint Joseph’s across town before hitting the CAA schedule and picking up wins in all kind of situations, including some amazing rallies late in a couple of games.

“My biggest concern is that if we picked up those losses how it might affect our confidence but it never happened,” Dillon said Saturday after Drexel beat Charleston to finish with a 13-0 unbeaten home record in the DAC and a school-record regular season win total (24-6).

The two conference losses were at JMU, in their season’s first meeting at the JMU Convocation Center in Harrisonburg, Va.,, and at Elon, the defending CAA tourney champs from last year, in North Carolina near Greensboro.

But the wins here over the duo came in a double overtime thriller with James Madison a weekend ago on a Friday and one earlier in the DAC in which Drexel rallied from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter over Elon, the programs’s largest fourth quarter comeback since the NCAA women switched from two 20-minute haves to four 10-minute quarters three seasons ago.

It’s the first time Drexel has been host and first time the CAA tourney for women has been this far north, though an hour south from the West Philadelphia site the event has been held several times at Delaware.

The last time a No. 1 seed had the luxury of being on its home floor was 2004, when Old Dominion continued its monopoly of the tournament, winning its 13th straight of 17 after becoming a member — a streak that Drexel broke in 2009 with the Dragons winning both regular season and tournament crowns for their only NCAA tournament appearance.

The worst case for the Dragons if they fall short is they are assured the CAA rep spot in the Women’s NIT, which they captured several seasons ago.

The tournament begins Wednesday with two first-round games involving the four lowest seeds before Drexel and Delaware begin play in the quarterfinal round on Thursday.

Drexel swept Delaware in the very first CAA game of the season in late December in Philadelphia and then again Thursday down the road a bit at the Blue Hens’ Bob Carpenter Center in Newark.

By the bracket path, the two could meet each other in the semifinals. Delaware finished fifth and meets fourth-seeded Northeastern in the quarterfinals at 2:30 while Drexel at noon on this Thursday meets the winner between eighth-seeded UNCW and ninth-seeded Towson, who play at 2 p.m. on Wednesday.

UNCW in the first game to launch play seems ceremonial considering first year coach Karen Barefoot used to head ODU, which several years ago left the CAA to join C-USA. Her assistant is longtime Delaware coach Tina Martin, who left the Blue Hens last summer and then was approached by Barefoot after her own hire.

The potential Delaware-Drexel meeting would be at 3 p.m. Friday in one of the semifinals, which at that same time Penn, seeded second in the second annual Ivy men’s and women’s four-teams each tourney will be holding its public shoot-around and media press conference down the street at the Quakers’ Palestra.

But on Saturday, whether Drexel gets that far or not, the title game is at 1 p.m. and the women’s part of the men’s and women’s Ivy semifinals has Penn playing third-seeded Harvard at 8:30 p.m. after top seed Princeton meets 4th-seeded Yale at 6 p.m.

The Ivy championship men’s and women’s doubleheader is on Sunday afternoon several hours before the NCAA men’s field is revealed.

The women’s NCAA 64-team field and pairings will be shown the next day on Monday night at 7 on the annual ESPN Selection Monday show.

The day-by-day CAA tourney starts Wednesday when No. 8 UNCW (11-18, 4-14) meets No. 9 Towson (9-20, 4-14) at 2 p.m., followed by No. 10 College of Charleston (6-23, 2-16) playing No. 7 Hofstra (11-18, 5-13) at 4:30 p.m.

On Thursday, Drexel (24-6, 16-2), as mentioned, in the quarterfinals, meets the UNCW-Towson winner at noon, followed by Delaware (18-10, 11-7) playing Northeastern (16-13, 11-7) at 2:30 p.m.

James Madison (20-9, 16-2) as the two seed meets the Charleston-Hofstra winner at 5 p.m. with the final game of the day following at 7:30 when No. 3 Elon (22-7, 14-4) meets No. 6 (William & Mary (16-13, 7-11).

On Friday after Drexel’s side of the pairings meets in semifinals at 3 p.m., the other semifinal will be at 5:30 p.m. followed Saturday, as mentioned, by the championship for the CAA’s rep spot in the NCAA tournament at 1 p.m. and will be televised on SNY and the NBC Washington and Philadelphia sports regional networks.

The first three rounds will be carried on CAA.TV.

And that’s it.


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