Elon’s Hunter McIntosh (0) handles the ball during an NCAA college basketball game against North Carolina Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Ben McKeown)
- A first-time champion will be crowned when No. 8 Elon battles No. 6 Drexel in the final of this year’s CAA Tournament
- Elon have overcome a season-threatening eight-game losing streak with seven straight wins, while a revitalized offense has lifted the Dragons to three straight victories
- Get all the odds and trends ahead of Tuesday night’s matchup at Atlantic Union Bank Center
The Colonial Athletic Association Tournament will produce a first-time conference champion when the Drexel Dragons take on the Elon Phoenix on Tuesday night in the tournament final (7:00 pm ET at Atlantic Union Bank Center in Harrisonburg, Virginia).
Both these teams have defied the odds on their way to a berth in Tuesday’s final. No. 8 Elon advanced with a decisive 76-58 victory over the defending champion Hofstra Pride as six-point underdogs in Monday’s semifinal action. No. 6 Drexel returns to the championship game for the first time since 2012 after knocking off No. 2 Northeastern 74-67 while pegged as a one-point underdog.
Drexel is a three-point favorite tonight.
Elon Phoenix vs Drexel Dragons Odds
|Elon Phoenix||+3 (-110)||+130||O 130 (-110)|
|Drexel Dragons||-3 (-110)||-154||U 130 (-110)|
Odds from FanDuel on March 9, 2021.
The Phoenix have lived up to their name during their surprising march to their first-ever berth in the CAA Tournament final. The team look destined to have a lost season after opening their conference schedule with seven straight setbacks, losing by an average margin of 15.3 points in those defeats.
#8 ELON BEATS #4 HOFSTRA TO GO TO ITS FIRST CAA CHAMPIONSHIP!
— Barstool Bench Mob (@stoolbenchmob) March 9, 2021
However, the Phoenix have looked nothing like also-rans since. Elon closed out its schedule with four straight impressive victories, including a trio of outright wins as betting underdogs. The team has carried that momentum into this year’s tournament, and have been undaunted by arguably the toughest road to the final.
Elon Overachieving as Underdogs
In addition to Monday’s victory over Hofstra, the Phoenix rose to the occasion in their quarterfinal clash with James Madison this past weekend, overcoming a 10-point halftime deficit to knock off the top-seeded Dukes 72-71 as 4.5-point underdogs. Set to hit the court as underdogs on Tuesday for the 14th time in 16 outings, the Phoenix now ride a steady seven-game win streak against the spread. That is likely just fine with the squad, which has won outright in four of their past five while tabbed as underdogs by four or fewer points.
No. 8 Elon tops No. 1 seed #JMU 72-71 in a wild, controversial #CAAHoops quarterfinal finish. Attending media has requested to at least have a pool reporter assigned to interview the officials. Dukes led by 15 in the second half. Elon made 13 3-pointers.
— Shane Mettlen (@Shane_DNRSports) March 7, 2021
Elon has defied its weak team ranking on offense during their run at this year’s tournament. Rated 258th in the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency at Kenpom, the Phoenix have been getting offensive contributions from up and down the lineup. Five players tallied double-digit point totals in Monday’s win, while senior big man Ikenna Ndugba continued his recent steady play with his first double-double of the season.
Dragons Finding Offensive Groove
The Dragons have also resurrected their previously disappointing season with a pair of impressive wins at this year’s tourney. The team failed to record consecutive SU wins while compiling a middling 4-5 SU conference record, but has discovered an extra gear on offense during its current 3-0 SU run.
Good team win in the 2nd game of the #CAAHoops tournament vs Northeastern 74-67. Shot 52%, & 50% from 3 w/ 4 players in double figures lead by @Zach_Walton5 w/ 15, @iamcamrenwynter 14, & 4ast, @JamesButler429 12, & 12rebs, @XavierBell03 11pts. +12 on boards. #GoDragons https://t.co/JWheCu6lBT
— Coach Fortier (@CoachFortier) March 9, 2021
The Drexel offense struggled to average 70.5 points per game over their first eight conference matchups, but have managed to top 80 points twice during their current three-game tear, which started with an 84-78 upset of the first-place Dukes as 1.5-point road underdogs in their regular-season finale.
Not surprisingly, that has spawned a steady run for the OVER in totals betting, which has paid out in each of the Dragon’s three recent wins, after going just 3-3 in the team’s previous six outings.
Can Drexel Solve Stingy Elon Defense?
Now set to make their third appearance in the tournament final since joining the CAA 20 years ago, the Dragons have held the edge historically in dates with the Phoenix, claiming SU and ATS wins in four of their past five meetings.
However, those victories have tended to be low-scoring affairs. Drexel dropped a 75-70 decision to the Phoenix in their most recent matchup in February of last year, and has averaged fewer than 67 points per game in each of their past three clashes. But like Elon, Dragons shooters have found a groove during the team’s current surge, with four players cracking double-digits in each of the past four games.
The question is whether the Dragons can go toe-to-toe in a high-scoring clash with the resurgent Phoenix, who have limited opponents to 58 or fewer points in five of their seven recent wins. Emboldened by their recent steady defensive performances, look for the Phoenix to stick to that game plan, on their way to their first-ever CAA Tournament title.
The Picks: Elon moneyline (+160); Under 130.5 (-110)
Daniel has been writing about sports and sports betting for over 23 years. The seasoned pro has contributed to the likes of Sports Illustrated, Sportsnet, NESN, Bleacher Report, OddsShark, the Globe and Mail, and The Nation magazine.