Area College Basketball Preview

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

American vs. Navy

When: 8 p.m.

Where: Bender Arena.

Records: Eagles 19-7, 11-1 Patriot League; Midshipmen 18-9, 7-5.

TV: CBS College Sports. Radio: WTOP (1050 AM), WNAV (1430 AM).

JOCKEYING FOR POSITION: With a victory over the Midshipmen or a Colgate win over Holy Cross (9-3 in the league), the Eagles would clinch their second straight regular season title and ensure home-court advantage throughout the Patriot tournament, which begins next Wednesday. No team has finished first in consecutive seasons since Lafayette nine years ago. Navy is almost ensured of finishing third. The Eagles have an eight-game winning streak and one loss in the past 15 outings. They will honor their seven seniors after the game.

FILLING IT UP: This game features the league's top three scorers -- Navy guards Kaleo Kina (17.6 points per game) and Chris Harris (15.9), and American guard Garrison Carr (17.2) -- as well as the most productive three-point shooters in Carr (85), Harris (80) and Navy forward Adam Teague (64). The Midshipmen are the highest-scoring team in the league (71.6), while the Eagles' 58.1 points allowed is the best in the Patriot League and ninth nationally. During the streak, AU has yielded an average of 50.5 points, and none of its past four opponents have eclipsed 50.

INSTANT CLASSIC: The teams will have a tough time topping the first meeting, a 68-67 AU victory Jan. 28 in Annapolis. Kina had 26 points to help the Midshipmen overcome a 10-point halftime deficit, but Carr capped a 28-point night with his seventh three-pointer with 30 seconds left. Navy won at Bender Arena last year, ending a six-game losing streak there, and swept the season series for the first time since 1986-87. The Eagles have won 21 of the past 25 meetings.

-- Steven Goff

George Mason at UNC Wilmington

When: 7 p.m.

Where: Trask Coliseum, Wilmington, N.C.

Records: Patriots 18-9, 11-5 CAA; Seahawks 7-22, 3-13.

TV: MASN. Radio: WWRC (1260 AM).

HOSTILE TERRITORY: Though they have a far superior record and beat the Seahawks by 41 points in the first meeting, the Patriots will need to proceed with extreme caution. They have lost 10 of their past 11 at UNCW, the only victory coming in overtime five years ago. Compounding their problems, the Patriots have dropped six consecutive road games, including a 76-63 decision at Creighton on Saturday. A victory tonight, however, would all but ensure a top four finish and a first-round bye in the CAA tournament.

NOT SO FREE: The Patriots continue to have problems at the free throw line and have fallen to 10th in the 12-team league at 65.1 percent. They have converted 63 of 116 (54.3) the past five games and have made 70 percent or better only eight times this season. No George Mason player is in the top 10 in the CAA and three regulars are making less than 57 percent: forward Darryl Monroe (56.4), guard Andre Cornelius (55) and forward Mike Morrison (32.4).

LEADING THE WAY: Sophomore guard Cam Long (Freedom-Woodbridge) continued his well-rounded season with 23 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists against Creighton. He leads the team in scoring average (11.9) and assists (3.3), is second in rebounds (5.0) and is shooting 47.2 from the field, 40.2 on three-pointers and 77.3 at the free throw line. The Seahawks, who upset first-place Virginia Commonwealth three weeks ago, are led by sophomore guard Chad Tomko (15.8 points, 3.6 rebounds, 4.6 assists).

-- Steven Goff

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