Tournaments at a glance

March 05, 2004

Men

Colonial Athletic

Site: Richmond (Va.) Coliseum

When: Today-Monday

2003 champion: UNC-Wilmington

2004 favorite: Virginia Commonwealth. The quick, athletic Rams won their final two on the road to gain the top seed and sport a five-game winning streak overall. Plus, they are playing in their home city, if not on their home court. Senior guard Domonic Jones (16.6 ppg) is their leader, ranking sixth on the school's all-time scoring list.

Dark horse: George Mason. It's difficult to call a team a sleeper that was the preseason choice to win the league, but George Mason is on a roll with three straight victories and has lost only once in a month. The late run gave the Patriots the third seed and they have topped both Virginia Commonwealth and No. 2 Drexel this season.

Player to watch: Kenny Adeleke, Hofstra. The kind of player who thrives on a big stage, Adeleke is the CAA's leading rebounder (9.2 rpg) and scores nearly 14 points a game. Injuries have forced him to carry a heavier load, but he has the type of ability to do it.

Outlook: Towson, seeded ninth, has a legitimate chance to win its first CAA tournament game after finishing with a lopsided win over James Madison. The Tigers split with their first-round opponent William and Mary, each winning at home. But if Towson wins, the Rams are waiting in the wings.

Metro Atlantic Athletic

Site: Pepsi Arena, Albany, N.Y.

When: Today-Monday

2003 champion: Manhattan

2004 favorite: Manhattan. The Jaspers cruised to the regular-season championship behind the third-leading Division I scorer in guard Luis Flores (24.1 ppg). Flores is expected to be named Player of the Year in the conference during the tourney. Former UMBC star Peter Mulligan (10.6 ppg) completes the league's most formidable backcourt. Manhattan is 22-5 overall.

Dark horse: Iona. Although just the seventh seed, Iona has been playing well since losing two of its better players, one to academic problems, one to suspension. The Gaels took their last three, including an 81-53 rout of Loyola in the finale.

Player to watch: Keydren Clark, Saint Peter's. The diminutive guard paced the league in scoring (27.0 ppg) and can quickly break open a game with his long-range accuracy. He had 105 three-pointers.

Outlook: It has been another dreadful season (1-26) for Loyola, which fortunately avoided breaking the Division I record for consecutive losses with its only win of the season - over Marist. The Greyhounds dropped two to first-round foe Rider, but led at the half in the second game.

America East

Site: Walter Brown Arena, Boston

When: Today-Sunday, with championship at higher seed next Saturday

2003 champion: Vermont

2004 favorite: Boston University. After losing its first three to Holy Cross, unbeaten Saint Joseph's (Pa.) and Boston College, Boston U. went 23-1 with the only setback by two points to Vermont. The Terriers have no real offensive stars - guard Chaz Carr (13.1 ppg) is the leading scorer - but have the best defense in the league, allowing less than 59 points per game.

Dark horse: Maine. Depth is the biggest problem for the Black Bears, who give teams difficulty with their physical play. Center Mark Flavin, at 6-foot-10, is capable of a double double any time and Kevin Reed, brother of Orioles prospect Keith Reed, heads a strong guard tandem.

Player to watch: Jose Juan Barea, Northeastern. With the conference's top scorer, Vermont's Taylor Coppenrath, out with a broken wrist, Barea is the featured guy. Second to Coppenrath with 22.1 ppg, Barea leads the America East in assists and three-point baskets.

Outlook: In its first season, UMBC has been mostly competitive, but can't seem to take the final step. First-round opponent Stony Brook was the last Retrievers victim, but BU is waiting in the wings for a team that has lost six in a row.

Women

Atlantic Coast

Site: Greensboro (N.C.) Coliseum

When: Today through Monday

2003 champion: Duke

2004 favorite: Duke. Just when it appeared there may be a ray of hope for the rest of the field in the ACC tournament, the powerful Blue Devils routed Clemson, 102-45, last Saturday, and then smashed N.C. State, 90-57, Monday, as they geared up for a run at an unprecedented (women or men) fifth straight ACC tourney title. The Blue Devils (24-3, 15-1 in ACC) are ranked second in the nation and still have an explosive Alana Beard dominating the league.

Dark horse: North Carolina. It's rare that the 10th-ranked team in the country could qualify as a dark horse, but that is how much of a stranglehold Duke holds on the ACC. North Carolina (22-5, 12-4) lost both meetings with the Blue Devils this season (Florida State handed Duke its only league loss, 80-74, in Tallahassee Feb. 4). However, if any team in the ACC is capable of pulling off a miracle against Duke, it has to be the Tar Heels.

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