Colonial Athletic Association Report
The Colonial Athletic Association has been one of college basketball’s biggest surprises this season. The CAA Tournament could be the best of the mid-major tourneys, as a number of teams could take the automatic bid. There is also a strong possibility the CAA could have multiple teams in the Big Dance.
In his most recent projection, editor David Mihm had Old Dominion (No. 10 seed) and George Mason (No. 13 seed) in the NCAA Tournament field with William & Mary and VCU lurking on the outside of the bubble.
The CAA automatic bid will likely come from a pool of six teams. Old Dominion, George Mason and Northeastern have separated themselves at the top and are currently tied for first with 10-2 conference records. VCU, William & Mary, and Drexel are dangerous and should be included as possible NCAA Tournament teams, but in all likelihood these three would have to win the CAA tournament to make the field of 65.
William & Mary has had strong non-conference wins on the road (@ Maryland and @ Wake Forest), but has struggled lately losing four of its last five. VCU is always a threat and considering the tournament is played in its backyard (Richmond, Va.), the defending CAA champion will be looking for its third trip to the NCAA Tournament in the last four years.
Old Dominion (18-6 overall, 10-2 CAA): ODU appears to be the most likely team from the CAA to make a run to the Sweet 16. The Monarchs boast the league’s top non-conference win (@ Georgetown) and have a strong RPI (Top 50). ODU has won 12 of 14 and only gives up a league-leading 55.0 ppg. The Monarchs would take a huge leap toward an at-large bid with a win @ Northern Iowa in one of the marquee BracketBuster games on February 19.
Behind leading scorer F Gerald Lee (14.0 ppg), the Monarchs are the favorite to win the conference tournament, but even if they slip up, their high RPI should get them an at-large berth. Look for Old Dominion to be a trendy upset pick for whomever they match up against in the NCAA Tournament.
George Mason (15-8 overall, 10-2 CAA): It’s hard to believe it’s been four years since the Patriots magical run to the Final Four. While George Mason would be hard-pressed to repeat that feat, the team does have a decent shot to return to the Big Dance. The Patriots, however, would most likely have to win the CAA Tournament for a bid. Their most impressive win is a home win against Old Dominion and they don’t have an impressive non-conference win.
That being said, George Mason has played some top teams very close. The Patriots lost to Villanova, Georgia Tech, and Dayton by a combined 10 points. Don’t underestimate the Patriots, as they have won nine of 11 and have an outstanding coach in Jim Larranaga.
Northeastern (15-8 overall, 10-2 CAA): It has been a tale of two seasons for the Huskies. They started with a dismal 2-7 mark, but are currently the hottest team in the CAA having won 13 of 14. Northeastern boasts double-digit home wins over both Old Dominion and George Mason. Guard Matt Janning (15.0 ppg) is looking to lead the Huskies to their first NCAA appearance since 1991. Look for Northeastern to continue its recent success by being the wild card of the CAA Tournament and possibly stealing the automatic bid.