By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A pair of area college basketball squads are preparing for first-round match-ups in the Division III NCAA Tournament.
Both Cabrini College and Delaware Valley College will be on the road to start things off. Cabrini will visit Hampden-Sydney College on Saturday night at the same time Del Val will tip-off with Virginia Wesleyan.
The Cavaliers bring a 22-5 mark into the tourney and they earned an automatic bid after winning the Colonial States Athletic Conference for a fourth straight season. Despite that impressive ledger and the fact that they made it all the way to the National Championship game last season, the Cavs were sent on the road to start things off this time around.
“I’m a little surprised by that,” Cabrini head coach Marcus Kahn tells KYW Newsradio. “We were hoping to host. We’ve done a fantastic job, here with our administration, hosting the first two rounds the last two years. I was thinking winning our conference, having some other teams get knocked off and not even make it to their conference finals, that would give us an opportunity to at least host.”
Hampden-Sydney brings a 23-4 record into the tournament and this will be their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2007.
“They are very good,” Kahn says. “They are big. They really rely on their two post players to do most of their scoring. Their starting four (power forward) and five (center) are their leading scorers and rebounders and they really get the ball inside a lot, something that we don’t see in conference play here very much. We’re a much more guard-oriented league, and we’re a much-more guard-oriented team. So I think it’s going to come down to who can control the pace a little bit more, if we can make it more of a guard game, make them play on the perimeter, as opposed to let them score in the paint, than we’ll be alright.”
Del Val won the Freedom Conference tournament to get here, punching their ticket with a 77-72 win over DeSales University in the title game.
“We just had a great week with the (conference) semi-finals (in Doylestown) on Wednesday and the championship game at DeSales,” Del Val head coach Casey Stitzel tells KYW Newsradio. “We had a great week of practice and they really took it to the game. We had two tremendous efforts, everybody that was in that (championship) game just contributed and did exactly what we asked them to do. Very proud of this group.”
Now the NCAA Tournament committee didn’t get real creative with the Aggies. When Del Val made its first-ever NCAA appearance two seasons ago, they traveled to – you guessed it- Virginia Wesleyan in the first round, losing 93-63. But when it comes to scouting and such, Stitzel says getting a re-match in this situation is helpful.
“Before I even watched film on (their team) this year, I had a good idea what they were going to do on offense,” Stitzel says. “Three or four of their guys are the main guys they were two years ago, also. So it does help. I’ve been looking up the box score from two years ago, we’re staying at the same hotel, so you know how far it’s going to be. In that aspect it’s a help. Obviously, they are a very good team, very good program, very well coached, but I’m very excited about the opportunity.”
Del Val brings a 19-8 record into the tournament. The 19 wins are a program record.
Virginia Wesleyan and Hampden-Sydney are both members of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference.
Both of these games will tip-off at 7:00pm on Saturday night.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.