Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Colonial Athletic Association conference tournament

This is part 10 of a 32-part series previewing every conference tournament in the country.  We'll detail what you need to keep track of in each tournament and the various stakes for each team.

The standings:
UNC Wilmington 15-3
Charleston 14-4
Towson 11-7
William & Mary 10-8
Elon 10-8
Northeastern 8-10
James Madison 7-11
Hofstra 7-11
Delaware 5-13
Drexel 3-15

Tournament format:
4 days, from Friday March 3 to Monday March 6.  It's at a "neutral" site in Charleston, but not on Charleston's actual home court.

The matchups:
1) UNC Wilmington vs. 8/9) Hofstra/Delaware
4) William & Mary vs. 5) Elon
3) Towson vs. 6) Northeastern
2) Charleston vs. 7/10) James Madison/Drexel

The stakes:
CAA was RPI 11, sneaking ahead of the MVC and breaking up the traditional "Big 11" as I like to refer to from time to time.  A very solid year overall for the conference, but it won't pay off in any at-large bids.  UNCW currently sits on RPI 38 and on 5 RPI 51-100 wins.  However, 2 are RPI 99 Towson, and another is 96 Bonaventure and another is 70 ETSU.  Despite having a solid non-con SoS, they didn't nab a win over a team that's even close to the tourney.  Their signature win is @Charleston.  That's just not enough, even though every other metric is great.  If we're picking mid-majors, I'm probably grabbing teams with better signature wins (see:  Illinois St) if I had to choose.  And it's a shame.  But the current committee emphasis is quality wins over tourney teams, and UNC-W just don't have them.

Charleston is a bubble team of their own (NIT bubble).  Traditionally, a league as good as this will have their 2nd place team in legit NIT contention, give or take.  They kind of suffer from the same thing UNC-W does, though, although they beat UNCW and also beat Boise.  I'm interested to see how the NIT handles them; it could be a bellweather going forward for how the NIT treats mid-majors.

We can pencil in Towson for a postseason bid somewhere.  Elon, Bill & Mary are also eligible and likely invites based on overall resume.  Northeastern needs one win to be CIT eligible; it's a shame they finished 6th.  Won at UConn, won at Vermont (!), won at Michigan St, lost 10 times in the CAA.  Dammit.

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