Nicolas Timberlake, Towson Tigers, CAA Tournament Preview

CBB Review prepares you for every conference tournament leading up to Selection Sunday. Up next: The CAA Tournament.

The CAA Tournament is definitely one of the more intriguing ones to track over the next few days. That’s due to the fact that there may be an at-large bid in play if the Charleston Cougars cannot seal the deal and take the league’s auto bid.

Charleston would’ve taken the top seed in the league had they not dropped one of their two league games to Hofstra, who also finished 16-2. Lurking in the shadows behind those two also sit Towson and UNC Wilmington, who no one would be shocked to make a run either.

2023 CAA Awards

Player of the Year: Aaron Estrada, Hofstra

Freshman of the Year: Max Mackinnon, Elon

Transfer of the Year: Tyler Thomas, Hofstra

Coach of the Year: Pat Kelsey, Charleston

First Team:

  • G: Jameer Nelson Jr., Delaware (20.5 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 3.6 APG, 2.5 SPG)
  • G: Tyler Thomas, Hofstra (16.2 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 1.3 APG, 40.8 3P%)
  • G: Aaron Estrada, Hofstra (20.3 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 4.1 APG, 1.4 SPG)
  • G: Nick Timberlake, Towson (17.7 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 2.4 APG, 42.2 3P%, 1.0 SPG)
  • F: Amari Williams, Drexel (13.6 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 2.3 APG, 2.4 BPG, 1.4 SPG)

Second Team:

  • G: Dalton Bolon, Charleston (12.7 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 1.3 APG)
  • G: Cam Holden, Towson (14.3 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 4.8 APG, 1.7 SPG)
  • G: Kam Woods, North Carolina A&T (17.0 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 3.3 APG, 1.6 SPG)
  • G: Ryan Larson, Charleston (10.1 PPG, 4.3 APG, 3.4 RPG, 1.5 SPG)
  • F: Charles Thompson, Towson (12.3 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 1.7 APG, 1.7 BPG, 56.5 FG%)

CAA Tournament Simulation

First Round – Friday, Mar. 3

12. Hampton (8-23, 5-13) vs. 13. Monmouth (6-25, 5-13) – 2 p.m. on Flo Hoops

Hampton and Monmouth are both new to the CAA this season, and the league hasn’t been all that kind to either newcomer. These squads finished tied for last, but Hampton did earn a two-game sweep of Monmouth in the regular season. The Pirates also come in having won two of their last three, and that momentum carries them onwards.

Matt’s Pick: 12. Hampton

Second Round – Saturday, Mar. 4

8. William & Mary (12-19, 7-11) vs. 9. Elon (8-23, 6-12) – Noon on Flo Hoops

William & Mary and Elon both played better basketball over the final few weeks of the regular season. Elon finished 6-4 over their last 10 games while William & Mary won their final two games. The Tribe relies heavily on the three-point shot, and that’s all it takes in a tournament atmosphere, especially against an evenly-matched opponent.

Matt’s Pick: 8. William & Mary

5. Drexel (16-14, 10-8) vs. 12. Hampton – 2:30 p.m. on Flo Hoops

Drexel just lost on the road at Hampton two games ago but did beat the Pirates at their home gym in mid-January. The Dragons play sound defense and like to keep the pace slow. Hampton takes care of the ball but can run into scoring issues that are hard to overcome. Drexel uses its defense to advance.

Matt’s Pick: 5. Drexel

7. North Carolina A&T (13-18, 8-10) vs. 10. Stony Brook (10-21, 6-12) – 6 p.m. on Flo Hoops

Two more league newcomers square off in this game, and both were about as up and down as it can get. Stony Brook last its last three games, but all of those came against teams sitting on double byes. Meanwhile, North Carolina A&T’s only win in their last five games was in overtime to Hampton by one. The Aggies possess a better defense and take care of the ball, which will get it done against Stony Brook.

Matt’s Pick: 7. North Carolina A&T

6. Delaware (16-15, 8-10) vs. 11. Northeastern (10-19, 6-12) – 8:30 p.m. on Flo Hoops

Despite the seeds, Delaware and Northeastern played two nailbiters this season. The Blue Hens enter the CAA Tournament as the reigning champs, but hit a wall in most of February, especially as Jameer Nelson Jr. battled an injury. Nelson is back and can be the key to a victory in this one.

Matt’s Pick: 6. Delaware

Quarterfinals – Sunday, Mar. 5

1. Hofstra (23-8, 16-2) vs. 8. William & Mary – Noon on Flo Hoops

Hofstra is one of the hottest teams in the country, entering the CAA Tournament on an 11-game winning streak. The crown jewel of that streak includes the victory over Charleston. The Pride play good team basketball and make up for their lack of size with their hustle. It helps to have Aaron Estrada in the backcourt as well. The Pride won’t slip up here.

Matt’s Pick: 1. Hofstra

4. UNC Wilmington (22-9, 12-6) vs. 5. Drexel – 2:30 p.m. on Flo Hoops

UNC Wilmington looked like the team that would go toe-to-toe with Charleston early on, but in reality, the Seahawks finished 0-4 against the other top three seeds. The Seahawks also needed two extra periods to dispatch Drexel in their only meeting this season. Both of these teams rely on their defenses, but Drexel will have some momentum with a game under their belt. This one screams upset, albeit a small one.

Matt’s Pick: 5. Drexel

2. Charleston (28-3, 16-2) vs. 7. North Carolina A&T – 6 p.m. on Flo Hoops

Prior to a small two-game losing streak at the end of January and into early February, Charleston looked like it would have no problem arguing for an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament. However, the Cougars are on a mission to show that, should they misstep now, they are worthy of that bid. Of course, it’ll be easier to win three games in Washington D.C. Charleston will be on a mission, and North Carolina A&T won’t be the team to stop them.

Matt’s Pick: 2. Charleston

3. Towson (20-11, 12-6) vs. 6. Delaware – 8:30 p.m. on Flo Hoops

You know you have some good teams at the top when the pre-season favorite ends up as the third seed. Towson seems to be forgotten about, but that might be to the Tigers’ advantage. Towson is at their best when they got hot from deep, and that’s an area Delaware struggles to defend. The Tigers’ one-two punch of Cam Holden and Nick Timberlake will look to get Towson where they were projected from the start.

Matt’s Pick: 3. Towson

Semifinals – Monday, Mar. 6

1. Hofstra vs. 5. Drexel – 6 p.m. on CBS Sports Network

Hofstra won the only meeting between these two squads by doing what they do best: controlling the tempo and locking down defensively. If Drexel wants to pull off the upset, they need to take advantage of their talented big man Amari Williams, as Hofstra would struggle to match his presence inside. However, with the more balanced attack, the Pride has the ability to overcome a mismatch like that.

Matt’s Pick: 1. Hofstra

2. Charleston vs. 3. Towson – 8:30 p.m. on CBS Sports Network

Both of the games between these two teams have been tremendous this season. Charleston won both games, but barely escaped in Baltimore and needed a late run at home to finally create some distance. Both teams will be out to prove something in this one, but this feels like one of those match-ups where Towson finally exacts revenge at the right time. In the end, Charleston will have to sweat on Selection Sunday.

Matt’s Pick: 3. Towson

Championship – Tuesday, Mar. 7

1. Hofstra vs. 3. Towson – 7 p.m. on CBS Sports Network

Speaking of revenge, the last time Hofstra lost a game was to these very Towson Tigers way back on January 16. Towson held Hofstra to their lowest point total during conference play at just 47 points. It will certainly take that kind of effort to win with a lot more on the line this time. Towson has the rebounding advantage to counteract the defensive pressure that Hofstra can bring. In the end, the Tigers end up where they were expected to be all along, sending home the top two seeds in the CAA Tournament along the way.

Matt’s Pick: 3. Towson

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