What-to-know tourney previews: CAA
Will Northeastern back up its regular-season title with a conference tourney championship? Or will Delaware get to the dance?
1. Where is everyone?
The CAA tournament is only a seven-team affair this season, as second-place Towson Tigers and NC-Wilmington Seahawks are ineligible for the postseason due to poor APR scores. Moreover, the CAA banned Georgia State Panthers and Old Dominion Monarchs from conference championships because GSU is heading to the Sun Belt and Old Dominion is off to Conference USA. Because of the constant shuffling, this is the last season the tournament will take place in Richmond Spiders -- its home since 1990. It will be played in Baltimore next year.
2. As the No. 1 seed, is Northeastern Huskies the clear favorite?
Northeastern jumped out to an 8-0 record in the CAA and never looked back, winning its first outright conference title. However, the Huskies lost three of their final five games -- including a seven-point defeat at home to Old Dominion in the season finale. Was it simply a case of resting for the conference tournament? Joel Smith emerged as a stud, while Jonathan Lee came from injury to provide a consistent second option. Quincy Ford provides balance. However, the Huskies might not even be the popular pick to win the bid. Delaware Fightin' Blue Hens has arguably the most talent in the league, with Devon Saddler and Jamelle Hagins leading the way. Drexel Dragons and George Mason Patriots still have pieces, too.
3. Can a Northern team finally break through and take the crown?
Since David Robinson led Navy Midshipmen to the CAA title in 1987, no team north of Virginia has won the conference tournament. There’s been Richmond, George Mason, Old Dominion, James Madison Dukes , VCU, East Carolina Pirates and UNC-Wilmington -- but nothing further north. This year, the top two seeds -- Northeastern and Delaware -- have a chance to break the mold, and the preseason favorite, Drexel, would also fit that category.
Schedule: March 9-11 in Richmond, Va.
Title game: Monday, March 11 at 7 p.m., on NBC Sports Network
THREE BEST PLAYERS
- Joel Smith (Northeastern)
- Devon Saddler (Delaware)
- Marcus Thornton (Williams & Mary)
Conference RPI: 24
KenPom.com rating: 19
Sagarin rating: 17
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