With all the high-profile parties going on, people sometimes forget that there's a basketball tournament being played. If you're planning to catch some of the hoops action, but don't know what to watch for, we've got you covered.
Teams to Beat:
By all accounts the favorite to take the championship, Virginia State comes into the tournament with the best divisional record — leading the Northern Division at 8-2 — and a CIAA-best overall record of 20-5.
They've not lost more than one game in a month since November, and come into the tournament on a four-game winning streak.
Johnson C. Smith
The leader of the Southern Division finished the season with a 14-11 overall record and a 7-3 record in the division. The Golden Bulls hope to use their local support as hometown team to give them the edge.
A rocky January (4-6 including a 4-game skid) left JSCU hobbling into the end of the season, but they've come back into form just as it matters most, going 4-1 in February thus far, and will be looking to prove themselves in the tourney.
Virginia Union (Women)
Leading the Southern Division, Virginia Union brings an exceptional 9-1 divisional record and an overall record of 22-2. Ranked number 1 in the Atlantic region and the number 2 scoring offense in the league, you can expect them to bring the heat in the Women's championship this year.
Players to Watch:
Stedmon Lemon #23, Johnson C. Smith
The forward out of JCSU just scores. He leads the league in points per game with 21.5 and, despite only playing 24 games this season, is second in points scored with 516. He's also a beast on the boards, ranking third in the CIAA in defensive rebounds and sixth in rebounds per game.
Ray Anderson #3, Virginia Union
Anderson may be the best all-around player in the league, statistically speaking. Not only does he lead the CIAA in points scored with 580, but he can be found in any number of other Top 10 lists: first in minutes played, first in field goals, third in free throws, third in steals and seventh in assists.
Jordan Watson #11, Lincoln
Watson is the sharpshooter to watch for any Steph Curry fans who like to see players hitting with range. He hits nearly half of the threes he takes, with a three-point percentage over 45 percent. And while many of the high-percentage shooters in the CIAA rank low in shots attempted, he's not afraid to shoot. He ranks 10th in three-pointers made.
Quincy January #1, St. Augustine's
January is looking to be the big-man of February, as nothing is getting past him on the boards. He owned all of the rebounds stats categories this season, leading in total offensive rebounds, total defensive rebounds and rebounds per game. It wasn't even close, as he finished 60 total rebounds above the second-place guy.
The kicker, however, is that he's not just about the rebounds. He ranked fourth in blocks, fourth in field-goal percentage, sixth in points scored, and 10th in points-per-game.
Kiana Johnson #3, Virginia Union (Women)
The star player for Virginia Union, Kiana Johnson averages 28 points per game, making her in first place overall and in the conference. She also brings a 39 percent 3 pt. average. With 671 total points and 220 assists, she is the first Lady Panther to beat the 600/200 mark in the program's history.
Eboni Ross #50, Shaw (Women)
Ross is a player to watch on defense. She averages 9.7 rebounds per game, 2nd only to Kiana Johnson, and is the CIAA blocks leader. She also leads the league in field-goal percentage at 61.1 percent and ranks 3rd in the conference for total rebounds-per-game.