By Matt Leon

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Drexel Dragons have earned the #8 seed in the upcoming Colonial Athletic Association men’s basketball tournament and they will open things up on Saturday with a first round match-up with the #9 seed James Madison in Charleston, South Carolina.

Drexel finished the regular season 12-19, going 6-12 in the CAA. After starting league play 1-7, the Dragons split their final ten CAA match-ups. Drexel head coach Zach Spiker says they’ve played better as the season has worn on.

“We’ve played well enough to win some games that we’ve even lost,” Spiker tells KYW Newsradio. “Certainly the wins have been positive, but I think we’ve played better basketball in the back half of league play than we did the first half for sure.”


Spiker talks about what led to more success on the back end of the league schedule.

“I think we’ve been able to score the basketball more consistently,” he says. “I think we’ve been more connected and understanding of what we need to do to be successful.”

Drexel has an elite offensive talent in Tramaine Isabell. The junior guard, who transferred from Missouri, is averaging 21.1 points per game while shooting 49% from the field. Senior big man Austin Williams anchors the back line for the Dragons, leading the team in rebounding (8.3 a game) and blocks (82 of the team’s 122).

Drexel and James Madison split their two regular season meetings, each winning by two at home. So the composite score of the two match-ups was dead even – 149-149.

“It’s probably what an 8-9 game looks like on paper,” Spiker says. “It will come down to the team that plays with the biggest sense of urgency and ability to execute offensively and defensively to make the other team uncomfortable.”

The winner of this game gets the top seed Charleston in the quarterfinals on Sunday. Drexel beat Charleston back in early January and it should also be noted that the Dragons also have a win over the #2 seed Northeastern to their credit this season.

Drexel and James Madison will get underway at 4:00pm on Saturday.