We have to admit, as the Flying Dutchmen went from one win in a row to two wins in a row to three wins in a row following their three-game losing streak, the ability to listen to our main man Mo Cassara and take this all one game at a time got tougher and tougher. We couldn’t look ahead and worry about finishing higher than fourth in the CAA until a bye had been clinched. What good would it do to figure out what it would take to finish second or third if the Dutchmen ended up fifth?
Well, we don’t have to worry about that anymore, thanks to The &@*#&@* Wolf, whose instant viral classic buzzer-beater to beat William & Mary Tuesday clinched the Dutchmen one of the four byes in the CAA Tournament and assured they’ll be off two weeks from today. So NOW we can obsess over finishing higher than fourth, which would spare the Dutchmen a meeting with scorching hot George Mason before the championship game, and examine the schedules of Old Dominion and VCU and figure out how the Dutchmen could finish second or third.
Technically, the Dutchmen are in a three-way tie for second with Old Dominion and VCU behind Mason. Even more technically, the Dutchmen are actually in fourth place because they lost their lone games this season to Old Dominion and VCU while ODU is in second by virtue of splitting with VCU and splitting with Mason while VCU dropped its only meeting to Mason (thanks to those who noted ODU split with VCU, looks like I picked the wrong week to start sniffing glue). So the Dutchmen must finish with a better record in order to finish ahead of the Rams and/or Monarchs.
Even MORE technically: There could be a four-way tie for first at 14-4 if Mason loses out, ODU and VCU split and Hofstra wins out. But that is not happening, because I will be blogging sweet nothings about Mason before the Patriots lose their last two games to Northeastern and at Georgia State. Mason will be the one seed and that’s that, so carry on here with the schedules for VCU and ODU:
VCU: at Drexel, James Madison
ODU: at James Madison, William & Mary
Clearly, if we want the path of least Mason resistance, we will all be Dukes next week. If Hofstra and James Madison win out, then the Dutchmen will be the no. 2 seed. If Hofstra wins out and the Dukes split, the Dutchmen will be the no. 3 seed. Of course, Drexel and William & Mary could win out or selectively split and also help the Dutchmen grab the no. 2 or no. 3 seed.
Of course, even if some combination of James Madison, Drexel and William & Mary cooperate, there are no guarantees the Dutchmen—whose last six wins have been by a combined 25 points and who have won five of those games by three points or less—will escape UNC Wilmington on the Seahawks’ Senior Night or eke past Delaware on Senior Day. And let’s try and cut off the bad karma at the pass here by declaring that I in no way think avoiding fourth place will result in an easy route to the championship game, or even the semifinals.
As the three seed, the Dutchmen’s three likeliest opponents—James Madison, Drexel and William & Mary—are all teams that present matchup problems and the perilous possibility of an early exit. Oh my, do I not want to see William & Mary again until next season.
And as the two seed, the Dutchmen would likely face a familiar foe in UNC Wilmington or Delaware (the two teams are currently tied for seventh at 7-9), each of whom gave the Dutchmen fits in their first meetings of the year.
But the one thing I think everyone can agree on in the CAA is nobody is playing any better than George Mason. Everybody should be hoping to avoid the Patriots as long as possible.
A couple other quick bits and bytes this fine February morning:
—This is the second time since the CAA expanded to 12 teams in 2005-06 that all four first-round byes were clinched with two games to play. It also happened in 2006-07, when VCU, Old Dominion, Hofstra and Drexel did it. CRAP! That year did not end well.
Two byes were clinched through 16 games twice (2009-10 and 2005-06). One bye was clinched in 2007-08 and no byes were clinched through this point in 2009-10, when the Flying Dutchmen were in a three-way tie for fourth and still technically in the midst of a six-way race for first.
—With an assist from Hofstra SID Stephen Gorchov, who was a manager on the 1993-94 Flying Dutchmen team that won overtime games in the ECC semifinals and championship, I was able to confirm Tuesday night was the first time in the Defiantly Dutch Era (which, of course, dates back to ’93-94) that the Dutchmen forced overtime with a last-second shot and won at the buzzer in overtime. Next up: Finding the time to dig even deeper into the archives! The older the games, the harder it is to find play-by-play and recaps, but the good news is there aren’t a whole lot of overtime wins to investigate: The Dutchmen had just seven overtime wins from 1980 through 1992-93. They’ve had 21 in the DD Era.