RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – The Colonial Athletics Association Men’s Basketball Tournament tipped off today at the Richmond Coliseum. The winner will receive an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament later this month.
The VCU Rams play their first game Saturday at 6:00 p.m. The Rams will play the winner of tonight’s game between Northeastern and William and Mary.
CBS 6 Sports Director Lane Casadonte answered some questions to get you up to speed on the Rams and the rest of the CAA.
You can follow Lane on Twitter for updates the tournament and the rest of March Maddness. [Follow Lane on Twitter]
Looking at the CAA bracket – which games jump off the page at you?
Lane: From the first day of games on Friday, the 6:00 p.m. game between Northeastern and William and Mary. The winner will face VCU in the quarterfinals on Saturday, and both of these teams gave VCU trouble in the regular season. The grudge match game of the tournament could come in Sunday’s semifinals if VCU and George Mason both win their games on Saturday.
Do you foresee any upsets?
Lane: Assuming Delaware beats Towson in the first round (and Towson has won only one game this year) the Blue Hens could give Old Dominion some trouble on Saturday. The Monarchs have lost Trian Iliadis to a knee injury and he was their best outside shooter. They still have senior Kent Bazemore who repeated as CAA defensive player of the year.
How would you assess VCU’s play leading up to the tournament? How about compared to last year’s team?
Lane: I think VCU is playing the best of any CAA team right now, with the possible exception of Drexel which is on a 17 game winning streak (second longest in the nation). Last year, they limped into the CAA tournament after a horrid February. But they shook it off to have the best run in school history last March.
Which team has the best chance of knocking VCU out of the CAA tournament? Why?
Lane: Northeastern and Georgia State both gave the Rams trouble during the regular season, and of course, VCU lost to both George Mason and Drexel once. Georgia State would have to upset Mason to get to the Rams again, but I really see VCU making it all the way to the title game on Monday.
Will VCU be invited to the NCAA tournament if they do not win the CAA title?
I think if they can get to Monday night’s title game, they are in win or lose. If they lose before then, they will have made it very difficult for themselves.
Is this year’s VCU team better than last year’s Final Four team?
Teams are different from year to year. This year’s team has a better record, but didn’t play as strong of a schedule. Only a last second loss at George Mason is keeping the Rams from having a long winning streak as well, but head coach Shaka Smart told us on Thursday he’d like to see his team make more stops on defense.
What should out-of-town basketball fans do/see/eat in Richmond while in town for the games?
If fans can wander down to the area called Shockoe Bottom, they should make a stop at Bottom’s Up Pizza. [Click here] Unique to Richmond and worth the trip. Anyone staying in Richmond after the tournament is over can go to Richmond International Raceway on March 7th and drive their own car around the track for a $20 donation to charity. [Click here] I believe the Mummy exhibit is still at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts also. [Click here]