Skip to content

2013 Colonial Athletic Association tournament preview

Mar 8, 2013, 12:01 PM EST

photo courtesy Northeastern Athletics photo courtesy Northeastern Athletics

Oy, what a mess.

For the past decade, the CAA tournament was one of the hottest mid-major tourneys going. Annual battles between VCU, George Mason, Old Dominion and other tough teams from the league presaged Big Dance upsets and even Final Four runs. This year? Not so much.

VCU is tearing up the A-10. Old Dominion fell off a cliff and fired Blaine Taylor, and they’re off to C-USA next season. George Mason is mediocre, and preseason favorite Drexel never got going this year. Half of the league’s remaining schools aren’t eligible for the postseason tourney because of impending realignment or APR-related sanctions. The league’s best story – the record turnaround of Towson – won’t be continued in the postseason due to academic issues, in fact.

The biggest casualty in all this? Rock Fight Friday, the traditional opening round in which the league’s also-rans battled for the opportunity to face the league leaders – earners of byes – on Saturday. With the wonky field this year, No. 1 seed Northeastern gets to wait until Sunday for an opponent, while everyone else must battle on Saturday.

The teams that are left standing this year aren’t a bad lot, but none was able to effectively dominate during the regular season. Even Northeastern took a couple of head-scratching losses. In essence, this tournament is wiiiiiide open, and only the auto-bid winner is going to sniff the NCAAs. That makes every game count, and that’s compelling television.

The Bracket

Where: Richmond Coliesum in Richmond, VA

When: March 9 -March 11

Final: March 11, 7:00 p.m., NBCSN

Favorite: Northeastern

The Huskies have the best offense in the CAA this season, led by sharpshooter Joel Smith and all-around threat Quincy Ford. They excel on the perimeter, where they’re shooting over 37 percent as a team. Now, for the bad news: Northeastern is in the league’s lower echelon in terms of defense, which contributed to horrific losses to postseason ineligible cellar-dwellers UNC-Wilmington and Old Dominion – the latter in the final game of the season. We’ll stipulate that the Huskies earned the favorites role by winning more league games than anyone else, but they are vulnerable.

And if they lose?: George Mason

The Patriots have been as baffling as anyone else in the CAA this season. Given that uncertainty, it is worth noting that they deploy the best defense in the league, and their offense is dangerous when it’s not suffering the league-wide yips that have affected every team to take the floor. For the rest of the eligible teams, this is a big year – the auto-bid has been owned by Virginia-based teams – specifically Mason, VCU and ODU – for years. They’ll be gunning for Mason as the most likely team to continue the trend, and thus the team everyone wants to take down.

Sleepers: All of ‘em. I’m not kidding. Delaware is top of this list – loaded with talent but bafflingly inconsistent this season, they may pull it together at the right time. Preseason favorite Drexel is also mega-talented, but seems woefully out of sync. Hofstra and William and Mary seem unlikely, but it’s that kind of season in the CAA. James Madison may be a true dark horse, having earned the league’s No. 3 seed. Sentiment is on the side of the Tribe, who have never made the NCAA tournament, and are sick and bloody tired of me pointing that out.

Studs:

Joel Smith, Northeastern: Smith can shoot his team in or out of any game they play, which is rough in a single-elimination event, but his season-long habit has been consistent excellence when the ball leaves his fingertips.

Devon Saddler, Delaware: The Blue Hens have suffered some injuries and had some letdowns this season, but Saddler has been an iron man throughout. The junior guard averages 20.2 points per game and contributes his fair share of steals, assists and rebounds as well. Delaware is the No. 2 seed in the tourney, and they can break through if Saddler puts the team on his back yet again.

Damion Lee, Drexel: The 6’6″ Lee is just one reason we thought Drexel would dominate the CAA this season. He’s just a sophomore, but he’s been playing like a warrior for the Dragons. He may not be enough to rescue them this season, but his skills – alongside those of stud freshman Tavon Allen – give Drexel fans hope for the future.

Invisible Heroes: Thanks to a combination of bad academics and the CAA’s punitive banning of any program that is leaving for greener pastures, we’re missing out on a handful of superior players on our TV screens this March. Foremost amongst them is Towson’s Jerelle Benimon, who has been an absolute beast in helping to turn the program around this year. Also sadly sitting home this weekend: R.J. Hunter of Georgia State and Keith Rendleman of Wilmington.

CBT Prediction: Drexel – a very good defensive team – locks down and takes the auto-bid as karmic repayment for all the times Bruiser Flint had a valid at-large profile and got snubbed. Because he’s due. That’s the way it works, right?

Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.

Latest Posts
  1. POSTERIZED: Ike Nwamu’s emphatic dunk was originally called a charge (VIDEO)

    Jan 29, 2015, 10:57 PM EST

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpwvjyjbiodlizwnmy2q0oge3yzm2zwrmyjq1zti2ndiw AP

    Ike Nwamu scored 20 points in the Bears’ 75-72 overtime win over Chattanooga, but should he have two (or three) more points to his credit?

  2. Thursday’s Snacks: Ohio State rolls past No. 16 Maryland

    Jan 29, 2015, 9:38 PM EST

    D'Angelo Russell, Dez Wells AP

    Providence’s Kris Dunn posted the program’s first triple-double since 2006, and UMass held off Dayton in Amherst.

  3. Big 12/SEC Challenge to be a one-day affair next season

    Jan 29, 2015, 8:44 PM EST

    Champions Classic: Kansas v. Kentucky Getty Images

    The third year of the event means an improved schedule, with all ten games being played on one day.

  4. Bradley’s leading scorer one of three players facing disciplinary action following incident Thursday morning

    Jan 29, 2015, 6:57 PM EST

    Bradley v Memphis Bradley v Memphis

    Warren Jones is averaging a team-best 13.8 points per game for Bradley, which has lost six of its last seven games.

  5. Brown’s leading scorer and rebounder decides to leave program

    Jan 29, 2015, 5:46 PM EST

    Brown v American Brown v American

    Leland King led Brown in scoring and was also tied for the team lead in rebounds per game.

  6. Duke dismisses reserve shooting guard from program

    Jan 29, 2015, 4:42 PM EST

    Duke v Louisville Getty Images

    Rasheed Sulaimon played 12 minutes in the Blue Devils’ loss at No. 8 Notre Dame Wednesday night.

  7. Chase for 180: Already a good shooter, Tyler Harvey’s been even better in 2014-15

    Jan 29, 2015, 4:15 PM EST

    Troy Williams, Tyler Harvey AP

    The Eastern Washington guard has received more attention nationally in recent weeks, and it’s well-deserved.

  8. Film Session: The case for Jerian Grant as National Player of the Year

    Jan 29, 2015, 3:28 PM EST

    Jerian Grant (AP Photo) AP

    At the very least, he’s the most valuable player in the country.

  9. Reports: Two Southern Miss players ruled ineligible by NCAA

    Jan 29, 2015, 2:30 PM EST

    AP Photo AP Photo

    Donnie Tyndall’s trail of destruction in Hattiesburg continues to grow.

  10. Pregame Shootaround: A terrific matchup of talented, freshmen point guards

    Jan 29, 2015, 1:09 PM EST

    Melo Trimble Melo Trimble

    Melo Trimble vs. D’Angelo Russell will be worth the two hours.

  11. Assigned Reading: Former top 100 recruit Noah Cottrill kicked addiction, thriving in NAIA

    Jan 29, 2015, 10:04 AM EST

    spts_12_17_09-e1340037417375

    Cottrill was once ranked above Shabazz Napier and Aaron Craft, among many others.

  12. St. John’s guard strains patella in loss at Creighton

    Jan 29, 2015, 9:08 AM EST

    AP AP

    Rysheed Jordan averages 13.4 points.

  13. Gilvydas Biruta’s putback as time expires saves Rhode Island (VIDEO)

    Jan 28, 2015, 11:24 PM EST

    Gilvydas Biruta, Matt Hubbard Gilvydas Biruta, Matt Hubbard

    Rhode Island moved to 14-5 overall and 6-2 in Atlantic 10 play with the win over Fordham.

  14. UConn loses reserve guard to stress fracture in right tibia

    Jan 28, 2015, 10:52 PM EST

    Sam Cassell Jr., Darrell Davis Sam Cassell Jr., Darrell Davis

    The Huskies will be short one perimeter option when they take on Cincinnati Thursday night.

  15. Jerian Grant, No. 8 Notre Dame erase another double-digit deficit as they beat No. 4 Duke

    Jan 28, 2015, 9:56 PM EST

    Jerian Grant (AP Photo) AP

    Jerian Grant was the headliner for the Fighting Irish, but he had plenty of help as they erased a ten-point second half deficit.

  16. 2015 McDonald’s All-American rosters announced

    Jan 28, 2015, 6:25 PM EST

    (adidas) (adidas)

    Nine uncommitted players, with Duke and (get this) LSU leading the way with two each.