The Colonial Athletic Association is one of the most underrated conferences in college basketball. The CAA may not be in the same class as the Big East, Big Ten and the ACC, but they are no slouch.
With Final Four appearances by VCU and George Mason in recent years, people around the college basketball world are familiar with a few CAA teams. This season, the James Madison Dukes look to break out and make an NCAA appearance.
During the past few seasons, the Dukes have played competitively with conference-foes George Mason and VCU.
When you look at the CAA, most of the teams are guard-heavy with enough presence in the paint to make a difference.
The catalyst for the James Madison Dukes is redshirt junior point-guard Devon Moore. Moore will have to take on the challenge of being the team's best performer this season. Last season, Moore led the team with 4.2 assists per game while chipping in a solid 11.4 points per game.
With Moore being out for the earlier part of the season, the Dukes will need Hitchens, Davis and Wells to step up on the perimeter.
It was evident in the exhibition season that the Dukes will still be a force to be reckoned with.
By losing Denzel Bowles to graduation, the Dukes can fill his void by committee. The "Ohio Players," "Humpty" Hitchens, A.J. Davis, Julian Wells and Rayshawn Goings, will be key to the success of the Dukes as well. Transfer A.J. Davis will blend in well with the Dukes' up-tempo style of basketball and will be the sleeper of the team. the Dukes also have other key role-players who look to improve on last season's performance.
Last season, the Dukes won 20 games for the first time since the 1981-82 season. Last season, the Dukes lost a lot of close contests, and their win total could have been at least 25.
But missing out on the NCAA Tournament fueled the Dukes into wanting to garner national attention like their peers VCU and George Mason. Taking each game personally will make or break the Dukes. Being predicted to finish fifth in the CAA should add fuel to the fire.
This should be an exciting season for JMU. The sky is the limit.