UNC-Wilmington basketball eyes CAA Championship, NCAA Tournament bid

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NORTH CHARLESTON, South Carolina – After setting single season school records for total wins, home wins and most three point field goals in a game during a memorable 2016-17 slate, UNCW Men’s Basketball sets its sights on the 2017 Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) Championship, scheduled for March 3-6 at North Charleston Coliseum.

With a 15-3 mark in the CAA and 26-5 overall record, the Seahawks wrapped up a regular season title with four straight wins to close the schedule and finished in sole possession of first place in the CAA standings after being picked to win the title before the season began.

Chris Flemmings. Photo courtesy- UNCW Sports
Chris Flemmings. Photo courtesy- UNCW Sports

Averaging 84.6 points per game, UNCW was the top scoring offense in the CAA. Shooting 48 percent from the field as a team, the Seahawks have four players averaging double figures.

Senior guard Chris FLemmings and sophomore guard C.J. Bryce earned First-Team All-Conference honors, while Ingram collected Second-Team accolades.  The emerging Devontae Cacok was also named to the CAA’s All-Defensive unit and pegged as the league’s Defensive Player-of-the-Year.

“I’m very proud of these young men and they certainly deserve to be recognized for their hard work,” said Keatts. “They have each worked extremely hard since the off season to improve their games and be great teammates.”
Flemmings, a 6-5, 175-pound slasher, is the only repeat selection on the CAA’s First-Team unit after powering the Seahawks to the CAA title one year ago. The Cary, N.C., product averaged 15.7 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.2 assists and started all 31 games for the Seahawks this season. He joins former standouts Brian Rowsom, Brett Blizzard and Keith Rendleman as the only back-to-back First-Team selections in UNCW history.

CJ Bryce. Photo courtesy- UNCW Sports
CJ Bryce. Photo courtesy- UNCW Sports

Bryce, a talented second-year scorer from Charlotte, N.C., made a giant leap in his second season with the Seahawks after earning CAA All-Rookie honors last season. Bryce ranked fourth in the CAA in scoring at 17.5 points per game and added 5.6 caroms each contest. He turned in 10 games of 20+ points.

Ingram, a senior out of Chapel Hill, also enjoyed an outstanding season after propelling the Seahawks to their sixth CAA crown in 2015-16. The combo guard is averaging 14.2 points, 2.3 rebounds and 5.4 assists heading to Charleston. Ingram leads the circuit in assists per game and ranks 12th nationally in assist/turnover ratio and 18th in total assists.

Like Bryce, Cacok had a breakout year after learning the ropes as a freshman. The Riverdale, Ga., performer averaged 12.2 points and ranked second in the CAA with 9.8 rebounds each time on the court. He leads all players in NCAA Division I with a field goal percentage of 78.7 and has slammed an impressive 76 dunks this year.

UNCW is coming off the programs first NCAA Tournament appearance in a decade. The Seahawks are listed at No. 38 in the country in RPI (strength of schedule), and ranked at No. 7 in the latest College Insider Mid-Major 25 Poll.

While it’s unclear if UNCW will get an at-large bid to the Big Dance should they not clinch a CAA Title, the Seahawks can punch an automatic ticket to NCAA Tournament this weekend in the low country of South Carolina. According to ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, he has UNCW listed as a 12-seed facing No.5 Notre Dame in Orlando as the only CAA program in the big team, which means the Seahawks likely need to run the table this weekend to get in.

First-round action in the CAA Men’s Basketball Championship opens on Friday as eighth-seeded Hofstra (15-16, 7-11 in CAA) faces No. 9 Delaware (12-19, 5-13 in CAA) at 6 p.m. No. 7 James Madison (9-22, 7-11 in CAA) follows with a match up against No. 10 Drexel (9-22, 3-15 in CAA) at 8:30 p.m.

The CAA quarterfinals tip off at Noon on Saturday with the Hofstra/Delaware winner facing top-seeded UNCW (26-5, 15-3 in CAA).

Denzel Ingram has guided UNCW at the point all season. Photo courtesy- UNCW sports
Denzel Ingram has guided UNCW at the point all season. Photo courtesy- UNCW sports

The semifinal games of the CAA Men’s Basketball Championship are set for 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, with the two winners facing off for the conference title at 7 p.m. on Monday, March 6. The championship game will air nationally on CBS Sports Network.

Should UNCW advance to Monday night’s Colonial Athletic Association Championship game, local fans will have an opportunity to be there.

A bus will leave the Trask Coliseum parking lot at noon on Monday, March 6, and arrive back in the Port City following the game.

The $65 cost includes round trip transportation and one ticket. To reserve a seat, fans should call 910-962-3233 by 5 p.m. on Friday, March 3.

2017 CAA Men’s Basketball Championship
March 3-6 – North Charleston Coliseum – North Charleston, S.C.

Friday, March 3 – First Round
G1 – #8 Hofstra vs. #9 Delaware – 6 p.m.
G2 – #7 James Madison vs. #10 Drexel – 8:30 p.m.

Saturday, March 4 – Quarterfinals
G3 – #1 UNCW vs. Hofstra/Delaware winner – Noon
G4 – #4 William & Mary vs. #5 Elon – 2:30 p.m.
G5 – #2 College of Charleston vs. JMU/Drexel winner – 6 p.m.
G6 – #3 Towson vs. #6 Northeastern – 8:30 p.m.

Sunday, March 5 – Semifinals
G7 – Winner of Game 3 vs. Winner of Game 4 – 2 p.m.
G8 – Winner of Game 5 vs. Winner of Game 6 – 4:30 p.m.

Monday, March 6 – Championship
G9 – Winner of Game 7 vs. Winner of Game 8 – 7 p.m.