Colonial Athletic Association
The CAA is in transition. VCU is gone, and Old Dominion and Georgia State are on their way out the door. The tournament will be truncated, and the power has shifted north, at least for the moment.
1 DREXEL ON TOP. The Dragons are easily the class of the conference, with the best player (point guard Frantz Massenat) as well as size, skill and coach Bruiser Flint to keep everyone grounded. Anything short of an NCAA berth will be a disappointment.
2 SEVEN-TEAM TOURNAMENT. ODU and Georgia State are prohibited from competing in the CAA tournament as lame-duck members, per conference bylaws. Towson and UNC Wilmington likewise, due to APR issues. It'll be an abbreviated, less-crowded three days in March.
3 JMU'S HEALTH. Matt Brady's Dukes have had a practically biblical run of injuries. They finished with six healthy players last season. Over the past four years, they've lost 10 starters to injury and medical reasons. They have five fifth-year seniors itching to perform.
4 BIG MEN. Start with Delaware's Jamelle Hagins and UNCW's Keith Rendleman, who both averaged a double-double. Add Erik Copes (GMU), Drexel's McCoy-Ruffin combo, JMU's Rayshawn Goins, Towson's Jerrelle Benimon, ODU's DeShawn Painter and W&M's Tim Rusthoven.
5 DELAWARE'S ASCENT. The Blue Hens have never finished higher than fifth. That should change with Monte' Ross' best team. Hagins and G Devon Saddler are top shelf. Transfer Carl Baptiste and Josh Brinkley help inside, Jarvis Threatt and Kyle Anderson outside.