The Colonial Athletic Association has had a challenging regular season. Hofstra led the way with 14 conference games. UNC Wilmington only played seven. Most teams were able to play nine or 10. It was a real up-and-down kind of year for a lot of teams and a conference that is usually one of the better mid-major leagues seems to be down a bit this year.
The CAA Tournament typically happens in Washington D.C., but this year’s will be at the Atlantic Union Bank Center in Harrisonburg, Virginia. That is the home of the James Madison Dukes, who wound up being the #1 seed. This will be the first time in 35 years that the CAA has held its campus tournament at an arena used by one of its teams.
Given the disparities of games played between teams and just the overall look and feel of the CAA Tournament, this one is obviously a very tough handicap. All 10 schools from the conference are in play and we could argue that several of them have a shot in a conference that has been anything but normal this season.
Saturday March 6
#8 Elon vs. #9 Towson
#7 William & Mary vs. #10 UNC Wilmington
Sunday March 7
#4 Hofstra vs. #5 Delaware
#1 James Madison vs. 8/9 winner
#2 Northeastern vs. 7/10 winner
#3 Charleston vs. #6 Drexel
Monday March 8
1/8/9 winner vs. 4/5 winner
2/7/10 winner vs. 3/6 winner
Tuesday March 9
Championship Game at 7 p.m. ET
All games will be played at James Madison, no matter how far the Dukes go in the tournament. There aren’t any compromising tip times in this conference like we see in the MVC, which has a similar format, but does not penalize teams by giving them really short turnarounds. The semifinal games are late by EST standards for sure.
The Odds from Circa Sports
James Madison +355
UNC Wilmington +3200
William & Mary +8000
In this conference, it is easier to look at the teams that are not contenders than to focus on the ones that are. William & Mary is a terrible team that really has no shot. Towson is the worst defensive team in the conference. UNC Wilmington is not good on defense, but has a decent offense and was limited to just seven games in regular season CAA play.
You could make a case for any of James Madison, Drexel, Hofstra, Northeastern, and even Delaware or College of Charleston because each team does something fairly well.
Drexel has the best offense, but Northeastern has the best defense. James Madison is the most balanced team. Delaware is the second-best defensive team. College of Charleston is second in TO% on offense and defense in league play.
Each team has something special to bring to the table.
The non-contenders are exactly that. You have a lot of teams that excel on one half of the court and not the other in this league. Balance is hard to find. There aren’t even a lot of teams that stand out one way or the other from a tempo standpoint. The top six seem to be pretty interchangeable, while the bottom four will likely exit the field quite early.
Final Thoughts & A Pick
College of Charleston is kind of an interesting team here. They shoot threes at a very successful rate of 40.7%. They lost twice to Northeastern in league play by close scores and that is the best defensive team in this conference. Drexel and Charleston are similar teams, in that they both fare better on offense than defense. It will be Drexel’s twos vs. Charleston’s threes. The winner of that game runs into Northeastern, but it is a Northeastern team that doesn’t defend the three overly well.
James Madison does seem to have the best road here, but feels like a vulnerable #1 seed. This conference is truly price-dependent because these teams could just be thrown into a hopper and mixed and matched and any one of them could emerge the winner.
With that in mind, the best value looks to be Charleston at +955. As you can tell by the odds, this is a wide-open conference tournament and one where you can take a shot or two and hope your team ends up being the most consistent in a conference that has lacked consistency.