After looking like it’d run away with the CAA regular season title, Hofstra has struggled in recent games — highlighted by a 104-99 (OT) loss to JMU. Meanwhile, Northeastern handled its two games this past week with ease, but still needs some help if it wants to be the No. 1 seed in the 2019 CAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. The CAA standings are so close that No. 8 JMU could be No. 4 at the end of the weekend. With seeding for the conference tournament still to be played for, the last week of regular season games is shaping up to be intense.
1. Northeastern (18-10, 12-4 CAA)
There’s a new No. 1 team in the power rankings, and that’s the Northeastern Huskies. Redshirt senior guard Vasa Pusica had 19 points against both JMU and Towson, both of which ended in double-digit wins for the Huskies. Northeastern has won seven of its last eight games, including a 75-61 win over Hofstra. The only concern for the Huskies is the absence of junior guard Shawn Occeus, who’s dealing with a leg injury but is expected to return by the CAA tournament. The Huskies are clicking at the right time but have a challenging road slate against Delaware and Drexel this week. For Northeastern to claim the regular season title, it needs to win both games and have Hofstra lose both of its games this week.
2. Hofstra (23-6, 13-3 CAA)
Hofstra hasn’t been the prowess it was earlier in the season. Since beating Elon by 41, the Pride have gone 3-2. Two of those three wins were decided by six and five points, respectively, and the other win was decided in double overtime. The Pride’s two losses, which were to UNCW and JMU, showed that senior guard Justin Wright-Foreman can’t do it all by himself. Junior guard Eli Pemberton adds 15.5 points per game, but the rest of the team is inconsistent with its scoring. Fortunately, Hofstra’s 16-game winning streak helped them build a comfortable lead at the top of the CAA standings. With games at Drexel and Delaware this week, the Pride only needs one win to clinch the regular season title.
3. College of Charleston (22-8, 11-6 CAA)
The Cougars began last week with a tough overtime loss to William & Mary, but there were red flags that popped up in that game. Senior forward Jarrell Brantley and junior guard Grant Riller combined for 48 points, while the rest of the team scored 36. Charleston bounced back with an 84-74 win over Elon, which sealed the Cougars as the No. 3 seed for the CAA tournament. They only have one game this week against UNCW, but if they want to repeat as conference champions, they’re going to need someone other than Brantley or Riller to step up.
4. William & Mary (12-16, 8-8 CAA)
The Tribe continue to prove it’ll be a dark horse in March. This past week, William & Mary defeated Charleston 86-84 in overtime and handled UNCW 71-63. Junior forward Nathan Knight had 30 points against the Cougars, extending his streak of 30-point games to three. That streak, however, did come to an end against the Seahawks, but junior guard Matt Milon scored 19 points in the Tribe’s win. William & Mary goes on the road this week to face Towson and JMU, where both games will tell where the team is at heading into the postseason.
5. Drexel (13-16, 7-9 CAA)
After losing three consecutive games, the Dragons earned a big 68-60 win over Delaware. Freshman guard Camren Wynter led the game with 19 points and three other Drexel players scored in double figures. The big concern, however, is that the Dragons will be without senior guard Troy Harper for the rest of the season as he deals with a foot injury. The win over the Blue Hens proves that the Dragons can fare without their top scorer, but with games against Hofstra and Northeastern this week, they’ll be put to the test.
6. JMU (13-16, 6-10 CAA)
A few weeks ago, JMU was in crisis mode. The Dukes lost six of seven games and lacked a spark from any of their players. Now, head coach Louis Rowe and his team have won three of the last four, putting them at seventh in the CAA standings. JMU was without sophomore guard Darius Banks in the 76-60 loss to Northeastern but had him back in the starting lineup against Hofstra. Behind sophomore guard Matt Lewis’ 40 points — which included the game-tying three-pointer to send it into overtime — and redshirt senior guard Stuckey Mosley’s 20 points, the Dukes took down the Pride 104-99. A win on the road against a team that hadn’t lost at home all season shows JMU is coming around. The Dukes host Elon and William & Mary this week, and if they win both games, they’ll have lots of momentum at a crucial part of the season.
7. Delaware (16-13, 8-8 CAA)
Delaware had a week to prepare for its rivalry game against Drexel, but still fell to the Dragons by eight. Redshirt senior forward Eric Carter and sophomore guard Ryan Allen are the primary producers for the Blue Hens, but the team still struggles to out-rebound its opposition. Delaware is No. 9 in the CAA in rebounding margin, grabbing 1.6 fewer rebounds than the teams it’s faced. The Blue Hens are slipping at the wrong time, and with home games against Northeastern and Hofstra this week, it could go from bad to worse.
8. Towson (10-19, 6-10 CAA)
The Tigers had a tough weekend that ended with nothing to short for it. Behind junior guard Brian Fobbs’ 29 points, Towson took Hofstra to double overtime before losing 91-82. Fobbs and Co. couldn’t keep up in their game against Northeastern, which ended in a 15-point loss. The Tigers are last in the CAA in scoring offense (67.8 points per game), three-point field goal percentage (32.8) and assists (10.1 per game). They’re also No. 9 in free-throw and field goal percentage. The simple key for them to end the season strong is to score, but that’s easier said than done. Towson hosts William & Mary and Elon to cap off its regular season.
9. Elon (9-20, 5-11 CAA)
After a brief return to the cellar of the CAA standings, Elon’s 84-77 win over UNCW brought them back out. Senior guard Steven Santa Ana scored 31 points and was helped out by senior guard Sheldon Eberhardt’s 18 points from the bench. The Phoenix then fell to Charleston by 10, but senior forward Tyler Seibring enjoyed a 24-point outing against the Cougars. Although there’s no chance that Elon gets out of the bottom four spots, it can rise up in the standings with a pair of wins this week, as it travels to JMU and Towson.
10. UNCW (9-21, 5-12 CAA)
When UNCW defeated Hofstra, it seemed like the Seahawks could make a late push and make things interesting in the CAA. However, losses to Elon and William & Mary this past week put them back in last place in the CAA. Senior forward Devontae Cacok is No. 2 in Division I basketball with 12.1 rebounds per game, while freshman guard Kai Toews is second in the country in assists with 7.9 per game. With one game left against Charleston, the highest UNCW can rise in the CAA standings is to No. 8.
Contact Noah Ziegler at email@example.com. For more basketball coverage, follow the sports desk on Twitter @TheBreezeSports.