Darius Banks

JMU sophomore guard Darius Banks handles the ball vs. Northeastern.

The CAA continues to be a fight from top to bottom. The nation’s longest winning streak came to an end this past weekend as Hofstra’s impressive 16-game unbeaten run was snapped, and the gap between fourth and ninth place is only two games. With a little over a month until the 2019 CAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, there’s a lot to play for in terms of seeding.

1. Hofstra (19-4, 9-1 CAA)

It was an impressive run, but the Pride’s 16-game win streak was halted by redshirt senior guard Vasa Pusica and Northeastern. Senior guard Justin Wright-Foreman shot 2-for-8 from 3-point range in the loss, and junior guard Eli Pemberton only had nine points. The bench only had three points, which could be troublesome in the future. Hofstra, however, should be just fine. It’s rare for any team to roll through conference play without a loss. The Pride will look to get back to winning ways against Elon and William & Mary this week.

2. Northeastern (13-9, 7-3 CAA)

The preseason favorite’s win over Hofstra proves it’s more than capable of winning the CAA tournament. Pusica had 24 points and eight rebounds and junior guard Bolden Brace added 11 points and 10 rebounds. If the Huskies’ guards continue to produce, they’ll start to separate themselves from the rest of the CAA and possibly make the No. 1 spot an interesting race.

3. College of Charleston (18-6, 7-4 CAA)

After starting 3-4 in conference play, the Cougars have rattled off four consecutive wins. This past week, they handled JMU 70-53 behind junior guard Grant Riller’s 24 points and squeaked by Towson 54-53 via Riller’s game-winning layup. Charleston is winning the games it should, but in order to break into the No. 2 spot, it doesn’t have room for error. The Cougars are on the road this week as they play Delaware and Drexel.

4. Drexel (11-13, 5-6 CAA)

Drexel, who’s been the surprise of the season so far, couldn’t knock off William & Mary on Thursday but bounced back with a four-point win over Elon. The Dragons don’t have a single player that lights up the scoreboard, but rather a few players play their role very well. Four players average double-digit scoring, led by senior guard Troy Harper with 15.9 points per game. Drexel hosts UNCW and Charleston this week, where two wins would be huge for its bid to seal a top-four seed.

5. Delaware (14-10, 6-5 CAA)

After a buzzer-beating loss to Elon, the Blue Hens were without senior forward Eric Carter against William & Mary due to lower back soreness. His absence was felt as Delaware fell to the Tribe 84-63. If Carter is out for a long period of time, the Blue Hens are in trouble. Against William & Mary, they were out-rebounded 47-25. With games against Charleston and UNCW, Carter’s injury will have a big effect for how the remainder of Delaware’s season goes.

6. William & Mary (9-14, 5-6 CAA)

After a five-game winless streak, the Tribe strung together wins over Drexel and Delaware. Freshman guard Chase Audige had 17 points in both games and junior forward Nathan Knight continues to be one of the top big men in the CAA, posting a double-double in both games. The momentum comes at the right time, as William & Mary heads north to face Northeastern and Hofstra this week. If the Tribe can steal a game, they can make a late push to shake the top spots in the CAA up.  

7. Towson (8-16, 4-7 CAA)

A one-point win over UNCW and a one-point loss to Charleston leaves this question: is Towson a potential CAA tournament Cinderella, or does it know how to play to its competition? The Tigers beat Northeastern and Delaware but dropped a few non-conference contests in ugly fashion. In Towson’s loss to Charleston, two players from the bench had a team-high 10 points. None of the starters had more than nine points, but the Tigers’ physical defense is able to make up for offensive woes. Their only game is at home against JMU this weekend, a team they fell to earlier this season.

8. Elon (8-16, 4-7 CAA)

Elon felt both sides of a close game this past week. Senior forward Tyler Seibring’s jumper with 1.6 seconds left lifted the Phoenix over Delaware, but it shot 8-for-24 from 3-point land against Drexel in a 67-63 loss. Senior guard Steven Santa Ana struggled in both games, but senior guard Sheldon Eberhardt has been a spark off of the bench, averaging 9.5 points per game. Although Elon has revived itself after a disastrous start to its conference slate, it has a tough road trip this week as they face Hofstra and Northeastern.

9. UNCW (8-16, 4-7 CAA)

The Seahawks have lost five of their last six contests and have lost three straight games at home. The rest of UNCW’s schedule isn’t favorable with five of its remaining seven games are against teams in the top five of the CAA. The Seahawks allow 82.5 points per game, a mark that is 347th in Division I. After being picked to finish fifth in the conference, there’s a real chance they could end up in last place.

10. JMU (10-14, 3-8 CAA)

A five-game losing streak was snapped Saturday as the Dukes powered past UNCW 104-95. Redshirt senior Stuckey Mosley led the game with 27 points and reached the 1,000 point mark in his JMU career. The lingering issue is the lack of production from the bench, which only had six points against UNCW — all of which came from senior forward Develle Phillips — and two against Charleston. JMU’s only game this week is at Towson, a must-win if it wants to make a late push up the standings. There are winnable games in the Dukes’ future, but it’s time for them to show their worth and get the necessary results.

Contact Noah Ziegler at zieglenh@dukes.jmu.edu. For more basketball coverage, follow the sports desk on Twitter @TheBreezeSports.

There comes a time where an athlete realizes their true potential. When I realized that I was never going to make a living on the court, I figured I’d make it on the sidelines. I hope to be able to attend and cover the World Cup and NCAA tournament.