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. 2015 Battle 4 Atlantis field announced

    Nov 28, 2014, 5:58 PM EST

    AP AP

    Here are the teams competing in the top early-season tournament.

  2. WATCH LIVE: Rutgers-Vanderbilt and La Salle-Virginia in the Barclays Classic on NBC Sports Network

    Nov 28, 2014, 5:55 PM EST

    nbcsports1 (1)

    The 2014 Barclays Center Classic will air a doubleheader on Friday night, live on NBC Sports Network. Coverage on NBCSN begins at 7 p.m. EST

  3. Butler leaves the the Bahamas with two key wins

    Nov 28, 2014, 4:54 PM EST

    AP AP

    Butler, picked seventh in the Big East, left the Battle 4 Atlantis with a pair of important victories.

  4. No. 11 Kansas still working to establish offensive chemistry

    Nov 28, 2014, 2:55 PM EST

    Perry Ellis, Josh Richardson Perry Ellis, Josh Richardson

    Kansas scored 82 points in their win over Tennessee but they also committed 16 turnovers as they continue to figure each other out offensively.

  5. Florida State will be without two key guards Friday night

    Nov 28, 2014, 1:07 PM EST

    Aaron Thomas Aaron Thomas

    Aaron Thomas and Devon Bookert both suffered injuries last weekend that have kept them sidelined.

  6. Right wrist injury to sideline Maryland senior wing four weeks

    Nov 28, 2014, 11:25 AM EST

    Dez Wells, Hugo Naurais Dez Wells, Hugo Naurais

    Dez Wells made just five of his 20 field goal attempts against Iowa State. This injury may be the reason why.

  7. Friday’s Pregame Shootaround: Oklahoma, No. 2 Wisconsin meet for Battle 4 Atlantis title

    Nov 28, 2014, 10:24 AM EST

    Buddy Hield, Zeek Woodley AP

    Providence better focus on Yale and not get caught looking forward to their game at No. 1 Kentucky on Sunday.

  8. Late Night Snacks: No. 2 Wisconsin remains undefeated, No. 5 North Carolina bounces back

    Nov 28, 2014, 2:01 AM EST

    Jabril Trawick, Duje Dukan Jabril Trawick, Duje Dukan

    North Carolina did a better job on the boards while also forcing 23 turnovers in their win over UCLA.

  9. Penn State unveils new uniforms for next two games

    Nov 27, 2014, 9:53 PM EST

    Patrick Chambers AP

    Penn State will return to the school’s original colors- black and pink- for their next two games.

  10. Bronson Koenig, Duje Dukan step forward in No. 2 Wisconsin’s win over Georgetown

    Nov 27, 2014, 6:08 PM EST

    Duje Dukan AP

    Koenig and Dukan combined to score 18 points in the second half for the second-ranked Badgers.

  11. Richmond loses reserve guard to left foot injury

    Nov 27, 2014, 5:24 PM EST

    Chris Mooney Chris Mooney

    Khwan Fore’s averaging 7.5 minutes per game in two appearances this season.

  12. Report: Gonzaga’s Josh Perkins broke his jaw

    Nov 27, 2014, 12:56 PM EST

    St Joseph's v Gonzaga St Joseph's v Gonzaga

    Perkins was kicked in the face by a Georgia player.

  13. Pregame Shootaround: Enjoy your Turkey Day!

    Nov 27, 2014, 11:19 AM EST

    Frank Kaminsky (AP Photo) Frank Kaminsky (AP Photo)

    It’s not just football that’s on today.

  14. St. John’s seniors say they ‘grew up’ against Minnesota, but have they?

    Nov 27, 2014, 3:14 AM EST

    D'Angelo Harrison (AP Photo) D'Angelo Harrison (AP Photo)

    A lot is riding on this season for St. John’s. Can they consistently be the ‘grown up’ team they claimed to be on Wednesday night?

  15. Late Night Snacks: Two ranked teams fall at the Battle 4 Atlantis

    Nov 27, 2014, 3:07 AM EST

    Kelan Martin, Marcus Paige AP

    Two Big East teams made statements in the Bahamas, and No. 3 Arizona won the Maui Invitational.

  16. The little things made a big difference in No. 3 Arizona’s win over No. 15 San Diego State

    Nov 27, 2014, 2:07 AM EST

    Sean Miller Sean Miller

    Arizona scored 22 points off of 14 San Diego State turnovers, and that along with good foul shooting proved to be the difference.

  17. D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera’s shot propels Georgetown past No. 18 Florida

    Nov 27, 2014, 12:56 AM EST

    D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera

    Georgetown committed 19 turnovers, but they shot 49 percent from the field and earned another quality win for the Big East.

  18. Rick Pitino gets his 700th career victory, but his team remains cold from three

    Nov 26, 2014, 10:22 PM EST

    Rick Pitino Rick Pitino

    Through five games Louisville is shooting 24-for-105 from three. They’ll need to shoot better than that when Ohio State visits next Tuesday.