The regular season has come to a close for teams in the Colonial Athletic Association. As teams prepare for the conference tournament, their focus lies with the potential of earning an NCAA Tournament bid.
The CAA Tournament, held in Baltimore, will feature four teams with identical conference records at the top — University of North Carolina at Wilmington, College of William & Mary, James Madison University and Northeastern University. The teams are seeded as follows:
No. 10 COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON (3-15) — The Cougars (8-23 overall) only earned three conference wins all season, with two of them coming against Elon. They defeated No. 1 seed William & Mary on Feb. 5. Since then, they are 1-7, losing by an average of 13 points per game. The Cougars offense ranks near the bottom in almost every statistical category in the CAA, which includes them scoring 58.9 points per game and having a -3.9 rebound margin.
No. 9 TOWSON (5-13) — The Tigers (12-19 overall) got off to a hot start at the beginning of season with a 7-1 record against non conference opponents. But Towson lost 10 of its next 11 games, extending to CAA play. They earned two victories each against Elon and the College of Charleston while also managing a win on a trip up Hofstra Jan. 31. Free throws and 3-point shooting have been a sour spot for the Tigers, as they rank last in the CAA with a .658 and .316 percentage, respectively.
No. 8 ELON (6-12) — The Phoenix (14-17 overall) seems to be getting hot at the right time. It finished the regular season with three straight wins against Delaware, Northeastern and UNCW, with the latter coming in dominating fashion. Up until its win over Delaware, the Phoenix was in the midst of a seven-game losing streak during its first CAA season. Freshman guard Elijah Bryant ranks in the top 10 among CAA scorers with 13.9 points per game while junior guard Tanner Samson leads the CAA in 3-point field goals made.
No. 7 DREXEL (9-9) — The Dragons (11-18 overall) have been hot and cold throughout the season. They had a dominating stretch when they reeled off six straight wins against the College of Charleston (twice), Northeastern, UNCW, Elon and Towson. Predictably, their losses came against teams with better records than them. Junior guard Damien Lee is the X-factor for this team, leading the CAA in scoring with an average of 21.4 points per game and 578 total points this season. Lee, a preseason first-team All-CAA pick, also has been a defensive asset for the Dragons while averaging 5.2 rebounds per game.
No. 6 DELAWARE (9-9) — The Blue Hens (10-19 overall) struggled at the beginning of the season, earning their first win in their 11th game against St. Bonaventure Dec. 30. Once they entered conference play, the Blue Hens gained momentum with a solid distribution of scoring from senior guard Kyle Anderson, freshman guard Kory Holden and sophomore guard Cazmon Hayes. Holden ranks second in the CAA in assists with 139. They won both games against top-seeded William & Mary, while also splitting games against UNCW and Northeastern. They come into their first game of the CAA Tournament with a two-game winning streak over Drexel and Towson.
No. 5 HOFSTRA (10-8) — The Pride (19-12 overall) features two scorers who rank in the top five in the CAA, junior guards Juan’ya Green and Ameen Tanksley, who both average more than 15 points per game. Hofstra leads the conference in 3-point field goals made, and also boasts the best scoring offense and scoring margin with 78.1 points per game. One of the Pride’s affective strategies is their distribution of the ball. They lead the league in assists with 15.3 per game. Their biggest win of the season came against UNCW on Jan. 3.
No. 4 JAMES MADISON (12-6)— The Dukes (19-12 overall) enter the CAA Tournament as one of the most dangerous teams, winning six of their last seven games. Rebounding has been a problem for this team throughout the season, and they rank in the bottom third of the CAA in offensive and defensive rebounds. Junior guard Ron Curry averages 13.8 points for the Dukes while sophomore forward Yohanny Dalembert leads the CAA in field goal percentage at .591. James Madison had some ups and downs this season, with all of its losses coming only against the three teams that rank ahead of them in the tournament seeding.
No. 3 NORTHEASTERN (12-6) — The Huskies (20-11 overall) were picked as the preseason favorite to win the CAA after returning six of its top seven scorers from last season. They boast one of the best field goal-shooting teams in the country, ranked 19th with a percentage of .481. Northeastern has been one of the steadier teams in the CAA with its style of play. Their offense, led by senior forward Scott Eatherton, has been average as the Huskies rank fifth in scoring. They hold the tiebreaker over James Madison for the No. 3 seed after beating the Dukes twice this season.
No. 2 UNCW (12-6) — The Seahawks (17-12 overall) took the CAA by storm this season after being picked to finish ninth at the beginning of the year. UNCW has been one of the strongest defensive teams in the league, holding the top spot in steals and 3-point field goal percentage on defense. Leading scorer and senior guard Addison Spruill racks up 14.5 points per game while senior guard Freddie Jackson is second in the CAA in steals with 48. Before their loss against Elon in their last regular season game, the Seahawks were set to secure the No. 1 seed in the tournament. .
No. 1 WILLIAM & MARY (12-6) — The Tribe (18-11 overall), led by preseason CAA Player of the Year senior guard Marcus Thornton, earned the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament after Elon’s upset against UNCW. Thornton ranks second in scoring in the CAA with 19.4 points per game. His dominating play this season has overshadowed junior guard Terry Tarpey, who leads the league in steals, rebounds and blocked shots. William & Mary ranks sixth nationally in field goal percentage and won both games it played against UNCW and James Madison this season. The Tribe has lost three of the last five games it has played, so an upset bid for either Elon or Towson will be at stake on Saturday, March 7.