RICHMOND, Va. - The Colonial Athletic Association resumes conference play for men's basketball tomorrow with all 12 teams in action.
At noon, Old Dominion heads to Fairfax to face George Mason at the Patriot Center. At 2 p.m., UNC Wilmington travels to Richmond to play VCU at the Siegel Center and Drexel hits the court with Delaware at the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark. At 4 p.m., William & Mary takes on Hofstra in Hempstead, N.Y., and James Madison meets Northeastern in Boston. At 6 p.m., Towson will play Georgia State down in Atlanta to wrap up Saturday's conference play.
Delaware (4-8, 0-1 CAA) is a work in progress to say the least. They struggle to limit the opposing teams to score, allowing 76.1 ppg (11th in the CAA). They do have a win at Vermont, but other than that, there is nothing flashy about this team. In their first conference game last month, the Hens fell by 21 at Old Dominion. They have four losses by 20+ points and even fell to in-state rival Delaware State.
Drexel (6-7, 1-0 CAA) won't score a lot, but they won't let a team run away offensively either. They run with you or you crawl with them, it's just the Bruiser Flint brand of basketball. They began 0-3, but have turned it around since, with wins over Vermont, Cal State-Northridge and a conference opening win over Northeastern. Their games in league play will be wars and any team, regardless of record, could lose to Drexel on any given night.
George Mason (6-6, 1-0 CAA) is playing as expected, young and inexperienced. After nearly stunning Villanova in the opening round of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, the Patriots have struggled. Mason fell at George Washington by 17, and Radford handed the Patriots a 28-point defeat in their last outing. They do have wins over Indiana, Creighton and VMI.
Georgia State (7-6, 1-0 CAA) is an interesting team. They play a different style of basketball, giving many teams the inability to stick to its gameplan. They gave N.C. State and Florida State issues, but they did fall to Florida A&M. They will sneak up on a few teams this season when they least expect it.
Hofstra (8-5, 1-0 CAA) has plenty of explosiveness, led by Charles Jenkins, and though there are not any huge wins on its slate yet, they led at UConn in the second half and battle every team to the buzzer. They will beat some teams and may sneak up in the top-4 for the CAA Championship this March.
James Madison (6-5, 0-1 CAA) had a lot of hype as a team to watch. That was before Devon Moore went down with a season-ending injury. They have struggled this season, having lost by 28 points in each of their first two games in the 2K Sports Classic. They also fell in a dogfight at home to GSU in the conference opener. They had won two straight before falling at Stanford by four in the last outing.
UNC Wilmington (4-7, 0-1 CAA) has the ability to score, but lack of defense has hurt this team with little or no depth off the bench. The Seahawks did beat VMI 115-95 and upset Penn State at the Charleston Classic, but they have issues holding the lead, after handing Richmond the 2-point win in the last outing after being up by ten with six minutes remaining.
Northeastern (5-7, 0-1 CAA) had a tough non-conference schedule, and was failing to get any quality wins, but they wrapped up Hawaii with a win on Christmas Day and just won the Cable Car Classic, beating host Santa Clara and Kent State, to ride a 3-game win streak. Of their first five losses, no game was decided by more than six. They will be a contender in league play and should get one of the top-4 spots at season's end.
Old Dominion (9-4, 1-0 CAA) comes in riding a 3-game win streak, including a 61-57 upset win at #11 Georgetown. After failing to get a win over Missouri, Mississippi State or Richmond, ODU turned it around and are coming in hot. The Monarchs also have notable wins over Charlotte and Duquesne.
Towson (3-7, 0-1 CAA) has not played well at all. Though they are putting points on the board, they can't stop anyone, allowing 77.5 ppg, the most in the CAA thus far. No opponent has failed to score 70 points this season and there are no good wins this year, with Miami (OH) topping the list. They will be near the bottom of the league standings all season.
VCU (8-2, 0-1 CAA) is good. How good? They beat nationally-ranked Oklahoma, Nevada, Richmond, and Rhode Island. Their lone two losses at Western Michigan and William & Mary. The loss at Kaplan Arena to open conference play was not a bad loss, and was back on Dec. 5, and far out of Shaka Smart's and Rams' head. Expect a strong showing again this season. They still have Larry Sanders and he is a force.
William & Mary (9-2, 1-0 CAA) has been the team of 2009, but will it continue into 2010 and conference play. They are undefeated in ACC play. Sorry, they have two wins at Wake Forest and at Maryland. No one wins at Comcast Center, but the Tribe became the seventh non-ACC team to win in that arena this week with a dominating performance. They have also taken down Richmond and VCU in stunning fashion. They trailed the Rams by 16 in the second half before storming back for a 1-point win. It is the team's best start since the 70's, being that they are on a 9-game win streak. They are dangerous 3-point shooters and you shouldn't foul them either, because they are money from the FT line.
It should be an interesting conference slate this season. Some say it is a down year, but I disagree. With wins over Oklahoma, Maryland, Wake Forest, Richmond, Georgetown, Nevada and others, the CAA has proven to be a successful conference, and is the reason they rank in the top-10 in conference RPI. This could be the year an at-large bid comes through the Colonial, should the cards be played right.