Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Thursday dribble: CAA, ACC back at it again

An already interesting CAA race could get a whole lot more interesting after the league's sixth set of games tonight. VCU continues to lead the pack with a 5-0 record, but in Delaware the Rams will be hosting their toughest league foe yet. The Rams have been virtually unbeatable at their Verizon Arena. But if the Blue Hens can spring the upset while Old Dominion and Drexel defend their home courts, we'll be looking at a three-way tie for the conference lead.

Meanwhile in ACC play a Virginia team still hanging on by fingernails to its national ranking will navigate the tough trip to Boston College and Virginia Tech will try to spring another major upset at No. 6 Duke.

Finally, in national news it took a little longer than we thought necessary, but the Big East has finally pronounced sentence - sort of - on the pre-game fight that marred Saturday's Louisville-Georgetown game. We say "sort of" because while the league announced that three players will be suspended for one game, the conference and the schools are declining to identify the players. A release on Georgetown's official site simply states that the Hoyas will sit two players for Saturday's home game against DePaul. That leaves one suspended player for Louisville.

Of course, not revealing the players is silly. Seems to us that if you get into a fight in a public gym in front of hundreds of people with the word "Georgetown" in giant letters on your chest, you've pretty much forfeited your right to anonymity. Besides, won't it be pretty clear who these players are once Saturday's game starts and they're not a part of it?

Thursday's games

No. 25 Virginia (12-5, 1-2 ACC) at Boston College (11-7, 2-1 ACC), 7 p.m.
The Eagles come in off a 26-point rout of nationally ranked Georgia Tech. The first order of business for the Cavaliers is find a way to keep the ball away from Eagles 6-6 center Carolyn Swords, the nation's leader in field-goal percentage. When these teams met in Charlottesville last year, Swords had 31 points on 13-of-17 shooting - and that was with Aisha Mohammed banging on her. The Cavaliers still won that game by 20, though, and they again have the kind of defense that can create an uptempo pace that doesn't flatter the Eagles. Like most teams, however, BC tends to play its best at home - just ask Georgia Tech. Virginia 72, Boston College 70

Virginia Tech (11-6, 1-2 ACC) at No. 6 Duke (15-3, 3-0 ACC), 7 p.m.
The Hokies did a terrific job of handling North Carolina's vaunted pressure, but this will be an even more difficult assignment. For starters, instead of a supportive Cassell Coliseum crowd, they'll be dealing with the famed Cameron Crazies. Then there are the Blue Devils themselves, who rank fourth nationally in steals and score nearly 35 percent of their points off opponents' turnovers. Duke has won the last 11 meetings in this series and clearly the odds are stacked against Tech again, especially if the Blue Devils can render Lindsay Biggs virtually invisible the way Virginia did Monday. But if the North Carolina game taught us anything, it's to never say never with these Hokies - especially if they can hang onto the ball. Duke 75, Virginia Tech 62

Delaware (11-5, 3-2 CAA) at Virginia Commonwealth (12-5, 5-0), 7 p.m.
We're intrigued by the 5-0 Rams and have high expectations for the matchup with Delaware. Behind Elena Delle Donne, the Blue Hens had won three straight and nine of 10 before dropping a double OT game to Drexel on Sunday. The Blue Hens freshman has scored 39 percent of her team's points. VCU has lost La'Tavia Rorie to an ACL tear, but continues to run through the league behind D'Andra Moss (21.5 ppg) and has won three straight over Delaware. But that was without EDD. Delaware 69, VCU 65

James Madison (13-3, 3-2 CAA) at Northeastern (6-10, 1-4 CAA)
The Huskies have never beaten James Madison, but then again their lone CAA win is over the Lady Monarchs, whom they never defeated before that historic triple overtime victory. JMU is looking to rebound from a loss to the Lady Monarchs in Harrisonburg in a game where the Dukes offense accounted for a season-low 58 points. NCAA scoring leader Dawn Evans (26.7 ppg) is getting hers albeit on inefficient shooting. Evans is 17-of-62 from the field in her last three games. Post Lauren Jimenez, who looked promising after returning from a knee injury, has taken one shot in the last two games, scoring four. Northeastern could trouble the Dukes from behind the arc. The Lady Monarchs drained six treys on Sunday; NE averages a league-high 6.9 per game. James Madison 79, Northeastern 60

Georgia State (11-5, 2-3 CAA) at Old Dominion (6-9, 4-1 CAA), 7 p.m.
These Lady Monarchs are flying high after dismissing Drexel, routing George Mason and cruising past James Madison in Dukeland. A big reason behind ODU's resurgence is the play of senior Jessica Canady, who finally looks healthy and leads the CAA in field-goal percentage (57.6 percent). The Panthers finally scored their first-ever win over ODU in Atlanta last year, 75-62. GSU loves to steal the ball (11 spg) and coasted through the nonconference season at 9-2. Their results have been less than glowing in CAA play however, where they have lost their last three of four (JMU, Hofstra, VCU). Point guard Crystal Johnson is the most efficient in the league and for the second straight year, leads the CAA in assists. We think the Lady Monarchs are ready to win their fourth straight. Old Dominion 71, Georgia State 59

William and Mary (9-7, 2-3, CAA) at Hofstra (9-8, 2-3 CAA), 7 p.m.
Isn't it a little early to talking about sweeping a team? Maybe, but with a win in the Big Apple, the Tribe can sweep the Pride. W&M won 55-48 win the teams played on Jan. 3 when Taysha Pye scored 20. The generous Tribe, with four players averaging at least four assists, continue to benefit from the hot hand of sophomore captain Katherine DeHenzel, (50 percent FG). William and Mary 58, Hofstra 54

George Mason (8-8, 1-4 CAA) at Drexel, (10-6, 4-1 CAA) 7 p.m.
Road win anyone? Or should we say anywhere? The Patriots have yet to record a victory away from the Patriot Center. Sunday's win over Northeastern was their first conference victory. We don't think they'll be getting their second against defending league champ Drexel. Drexel 75, George Mason 59

Longwood (4-15) at Seattle (3-18), 8:30 p.m.
This marks the Lancers' 13th game since Nov. 30. All but two of them have been on the road, and the relentless travel seems to be taking its toll as on Monday, the Lancers lost by 15 points to a Utah Valley they beat by 22 back in November and was on a 10-game losing streak. Seattle is another women's hoops lightweight, as the Redhawks have dropped eight in a row. But Longwood has lost seven straight itself - all by double digits - and are performing as though they're simply sick of spending so much time in someone else's gym. Longwood 63, Seattle 62

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