The final countdown is on. Hofstra comes to Philadelphia looking to lock up the number one seed. Drexel is among five teams that are separated by two games and competing for one of the three remaining top six spots in the conference, which would avoid the dreaded play in round.
Hofstra arrives fresh off having its eighteen game home winning streak snapped as JMU hit a three at the buzzer and rallied to win 104-99 in overtime. Hofstra rolled thru league play but has leveled off a bit. Prior to the JMU loss, they needed two overtimes to beat Towson at home. Three games ago they lost on the road to UNCW. For a long time, Hofstra looked unbeatable. That is no longer the case.
Drexel’s situation is a mixed bag. They are down another body as leading scorer Troy Harper is done for the year. However, without Harper, Drexel had perhaps their best effort of the year. Coming off a miserable road trip, Drexel led by as much as fifteen points and held on down the stretch. They held Delaware to 42% shooting and only 31% shooting from behind the arc. It is of note that Drexel is 6-0 when holding teams to under 46% in conference play.
These two first met way back on the first weekend of conference play. Drexel was on the back end of the brutal Northeastern/Hofstra road trip. The Pride ran out to a 24 point lead only to have Drexel make a big run to get it down to 6 with eight minutes to go. Hofstra got away again and won 89-75. Troy Harper had 22 points in that one. Three other Dragons reached double figures. Can Drexel, now extremely shorthanded turn it around and get a win that will certainly get them out of the play in round? Zach Spiker’s Dragons will be about a seven point underdog.
On Hofstra’s side, the defense has slipped a bit in the last few games. They will always run good offense, but this team has been better defensively. If Hofstra returns to their early season form, there is probably little Drexel can do to stop them. However, The Pride are showing cracks. Like the cliche goes, water always seeks its level. Hofstra may just be doing that now. They have played way above the rating of a typical Hofstra team. It is possible that recent play is more indicative of who they truly are.
Sometimes, there is addition by subtraction. Perhaps there is better chemistry for Drexel without Harper? Perhaps roles are more defined? Perhaps they defend better. They are shorthanded but are well rested for tonight. Hofstra needs one win to clinch the title. Drexel needs one to avoid a play in game in the conference tournament. I would hope a crowd turns out as this Dragon bunch has overcome a shitload this year. Their freshman point guard, Cam Wynter, has been terrific. They deserve to be backed.
On paper this appears to be a mismatch. However, teams going for titles often struggle. It is only one game, but there is a chance Drexel will be a better “team” sans Harper.
I say they avoid a play in game
Drexel 79 Hofstra 78