Men’s Teams to watch
Livingstone: Blue Bears have been pointing to this week for the past year and have the backcourt and experience to cut down the nets Saturday.
Bowie State: The Bulldogs didn’t rack up an impressive regular-season record, but they have a frontcourt capable of taking over at tournament time.
Winston-Salem State: The Rams might have the most talent in the league, but they have to navigate eager upstarts and South rival Livingstone.
Fayetteville State: The Broncos win with defense, which comes in handy during the postseason. Guard Tyrrell Tate is the scoring and emotional leader.
Men’s players to watch
Mark Thomas, Livingstone, G, 6-foot, senior: One of Division II’s best all-around players, Thomas is the CIAA’s MVP and leads the league in scoring at 20.1 points per game.
Emilio Parks, Johnson C. Smith, F, 6-6, junior: Superior low-post scorer who earned second all-conference honor by hitting 60.4 percent of his shots.
Jody Hill, Livingstone, F, 6-1, senior: Averages 18.9 points and is a prime threat from beyond the arc, connecting on 39.5 percent of 3-point tries.
Ray Gatling, Bowie State, G, 6-1, sophomore: Averages 17.9 points, tops among all Bulldogs and hits 36.4 percent from 3-point range.
Tyrrell Tate, Fayetteville State, F, 6-5, senior: Broncos’ leading scorer at 18.9 points per game has led the program to league prominence in his final season.
Tuesday’s men’s schedule
Virginia Union vs. J.C. Smith, 7:20 p.m.
Chowan vs. St. Augustine’s, 9:40 p.m.
Women’s teams to watch
Shaw: Bears (18-8, 12-4) have proven beatable in the regular season, but tournament time has historically been a different story. Shaw is looking for its fourth straight title.
Virginia State: Trojans (24-1, 15-1) are the only nationally ranked program at 24-1. Their only loss was to Shaw.
Fayetteville State: The Broncos (19-6, 12-4) split with Shaw, but can they get last year’s meltdown in the final behind them?
Winston-Salem State: Rams would need to pull off an upset or two in order to provide a real challenge to making the semifinals.
Women’s players to watch
Ashle Freeman, Virginia Union, G, 5-6, junior: Averages 20.6 points, best in the CIAA, as well as 35.3 minutes per game.
Deja Middleton, Fayetteville State, C, 6-5, junior: The league’s best big averages 13.2 points and 11.9 rebounds.
Jessica Lyons, Virginia State, G, 5-5, junior: Averages 10 points but is dangerous from the perimeter at 45.2 percent from beyond the arc.
Verdine Warner, Shaw, C, 6-4, junior: Gives the Bears a low-post presence at 14.9 points per CIAA game.
Lamesha Deal, Virginia State, F, 6-0, junior: The best player for the nationally ranked Trojans at 15.1 points per game and 44.8 field goal accuracy. The CIAA’s most valuable player.
Tuesday’s women’s schedule
St. Augustine’s vs. Elizabeth City State, 10 a.m.
Virginia Union vs. Livingstone, 12:20 p.m.
Winston-Salem State vs. Lincoln (Pa.), 2:40 p.m.
Chowan vs. J.C. Smith, 5 p.m.
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