Three CAA schools have dealt the Cavaliers their only losses of the season, among the league's few accomplishments as intramural play begins in earnest this week.
This was always going to be an unusual season:
The CAA is the 23rd-rated Division I league, according to RealTimeRPI.com, and 16th by hoops numbers guru Ken Pomeroy. Either way, the conference again is ensconced in one-bid territory. Mason is the only team in the top 100, at No. 56, and that was before its loss to South Florida. Eight of 11 teams are rated below 220.
The CAA is rated behind the Sun Belt, the Summit, the Patriot, the Southland and the Northeast conferences (Extra credit if you can name two teams from the Summit Conference).
The CAA's conference RPI is by far the lowest since the league's 2001 purge-and-merge. The previous low was 17th in 2002-03 and 15th last season, according to Jerry Palm's CollegeRPI.com.
The CAA is 53-80 versus non-conference competition. Contrast that with two years ago, when the league was 84-58 against non-league teams in the regular season, ranked 10th among D-I conferences and landed three teams in the
The Association’s statistical resume’ reflects not only an absence of signature wins, but a handful of wretched, can’t-have-that losses. For example:
Yeah, some of those were city and state rivalry games, and throw out the records, and blah de blah. But when a league regularly flirts with a top-10 ranking and aspires to multiple
Now that those opportunities have passed, it's on to conference play — four league games Wednesday and Thursday, five on Saturday.
Drexel, the heavy preseason fave, and No. 2 pick Delaware have been, to put it mildly, disappointing. Both have been affected by injuries. The Dragons lost veteran guard Chris Fouch for the season, and soph
Still, Drexel's opponents are shooting 47 percent from the field — eight points better than last year — and the Dragons have a negative assist-to-turnover ratio.
Delaware's Devon Saddler leads the CAA in scoring (19.8), but also has taken more shots and has more turnovers than assists. Double-double machine Jamelle Hagins averages just nine shot attempts per game (while shooting 57.4 percent), and Brinkley fewer than five.
Mason has a couple of solid wins (Virginia,
William and Mary already has won more games (7) than all of last season. That's tempered a bit by a Kleenex-thin non-conference schedule, though the Tribe played down to the wire in losses at Purdue, Wake Forest and Richmond. The combination of experience and improvement, along with a vulnerable league, means a top-half finish is attainable and perhaps even expected.
Northeastern should improve, as all-conference talent Jonathan Lee returns from injury. JMU figures to be better, since whatever plague that befell the Dukes the past two years, seems to have abated. Locals can get a gauge on the Dukes on Wednesday at Old Dominion and next Monday at
Towson is greatly improved over last season and has an all-conference talent in forward Jerelle Benimon. Wilmington rides Keith Rendleman. Hofstra will tread water after the arrest and subsequent dismissal of four players for a series of campus burglaries.
In retrospect, ODU's fourth-place preseason pick was too high, given the program's losses and reliance on youngsters and former role players. The Monarchs' pre-Christmas win over Virginia was a sweet, if unexpected, exclamation point, but they regressed a bit and came up empty down the stretch in last week's home loss to Fairfield.