Neither VCU or Drexel are a lock for the NCAA tournament. That's why Monday night's CAA tournament championship contest is so important.
The winner gets an automatic bid while the loser will sweat it out Sunday when the NCAA tournament field is unveiled. Drexel comes in as the No. 1 seed and on a school-record 19-game winning streak after taking care of Old Dominion in the semifinals. VCU is the No. 2 seed, but has the luxury of playing in its backyard, the Richmond Coliseum.
The lone time the two teams met this season was in Philadelphia on Jan. 8 and Drexel came away with a 64-58 victory. VCU (27-6) jumped out to an astounding 22-0 start against George Mason in the semis, but the Rams saw the lead whittle down to just a half-dozen points late in the game before holding onto the victory. Senior Bradford Burgess led the Rams with 20 points -- including a 5-of-10 effort from beyond the arc.
A win for VCU would put Shaka Smart, who led the Rams from the First Four to the Final Four a year ago, back in the Big Dance. It would also give the program its fifth CAA tourney crown. Drexel (27-5), which entered the league in 2001, is still looking for its first conference tournament title. The only time the Dragons earned a trip to the championship contest was back in 2003 when they lost to UNC Wilmington.
-- Jeff Goodman