Delaware and Drexel enter part two of the conference season with the same 5-4 records in the CAA. With both programs struggling for many years now, it is rare to find both above 500 this late in conference. As a result, a seemingly innocent game between a couple of average mid majors, is massively important. With this being the final meeting and their schedules the same the rest of the way, the winner of part 2 has the upper hand in avoiding the dreaded play in round at the conference tournament. The question is, who will that be?
When conference play began, one could argue Delaware was the team to beat. With an impressive non conference resume, Villanova transfer Dylan Painter recently eligible, a coach who gets the most out of his talent and a conference with no obvious winner, I thought Delaware had an excellent chance to win the league. Conference play began and Delaware dropped four of its first six games and had yet to play either Northeastern or Hofstra. However, after hitting a three pointer with five seconds to go to beat lowly Elon, they went on the road and beat Hofstra at the buzzer. They followed that by coming from 16 down with 11 minutes to play to win at Northeastern. Delaware seems to have righted the ship.
Drexel had an up and down non-conference, typical of a young team. They began conference play five and two. Their Northeast trip did not go so well. They got run out of the gym at Northeastern. They then played Hofstra tough, til they cracked and gave up a late 18-1 run.
In the first matchup between these teams, Drexel broke away from a 50 all tie to win 61-55. The key, Drexel won the rebounding battle 43-27.
This is a tricky game to predict. With both having a week to get ready, I would expect some new looks to be shown. Inglesby may try and junk it up to negate the terrific Cam Wynter. Spiker may try some soft or even all out presses to take time away from Delaware running their intricate half court sets. When Drexel destroyed William and Mary, they showed they can be as good as anyone in the league. In Delaware’s sweep of their recent road trip, they showed the same. However, outside of the Hofstra win, Delaware has not impressed. They were down 16 to a Northeastern team down a starter. They have done nothing special in all other conference games. Drexel continues to be up and down, but when up, they are tough to beat. With plenty of rest and short travel, the home court should not be a big deal.
I do think the Blue Hen’s best game is better than the Dragon’s. I also think Inglesby is a better gameday coach than Spiker. I am not sold on Delaware, so with little confidence, I give you:
Delaware 69 Drexel 66