The Virginia Commonwealth Rams have already had one shocking upset in the 2011 Colonial Athletic Association Tournament, knocking off No. 1 seed George Mason in the semifinals on Sunday. Now, they look for their second straight upset and a surprising berth into the NCAA Tournament, as they will play rival and No. 2 seed Old Dominion in the CAA championship game at the Siegel Center at 7 p.m. Monday night on ESPN.
VCU and Old Dominion have developed a fierce rivalry in recent years, so this is a fitting way for the CAA to be decided. The two teams have won five of the past seven CAA Tournament championships, with Old Dominion coming away with the title last season. The two teams last played in the title game in 2005, with Old Dominion coming away with a 73-66 win.
This game is particularly important because a VCU win would likely ensure the conference gets three bids to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in its history. George Mason is likely to be named as an at-large team, and if Old Dominion loses, they probably have done enough to earn an at-large bid too.
The Rams entered the CAA Tournament on a cold spell, having lost four of their last five games after a midseason nine-game winning streak, but righted the ship with wins over No. 5 seed Drexel, 62-60, in the quarterfinals and over George Mason, 79-63, in the semifinals. Led by seniors Joey Rodriguez, Jamie Skeen and Brandon Rozzell, the Rams will look to ride their home crown to victory.
Old Dominion, on the other hand, is riding an eight-game winning streak entering this game. The Monarchs topped No. 7 seed Delaware, 59-50, in the quarterfinals before holding off CAA Player of the Year Charles Jenkins and No. 3 Hofstra, 77-69, in the semifinals. Defensive demons Frank Hassell and Ken Bazemore lead the way for the Monarchs.