The CAA tournament is right around the corner with just two weekends remaining in the regular season. JMU and Drexel are neck and neck at the top of the conference standings and have critical upcoming games that could determine the No. 1 seed. Here’s this week’s edition of the CAA power rankings.
1. JMU (22-4, 14-1 CAA), previously No. 1
JMU hasn’t lost since Jan. 18 and has a chance of escaping the regular season with an unblemished home record for the first time since 2015-16 — the last time it won the CAA title. The Dukes are winners of 10 in a row and knocked off Elon 74-46 on Friday and William & Mary 78-65 on Sunday to keep its 1.5-game lead over Drexel for the CAA’s top spot. A road win over Towson would go a long way toward securing it, though the Dragons can steal the spot if they win out.
2. Drexel (20-5, 12-2 CAA), previously No. 2
Drexel’s last loss was to JMU on Jan. 6. Since then, the Dragons have won 12 consecutive games and can steal the tiebreaker for the top seed in the CAA tournament with a win over the Dukes on March 7. First, Drexel must top William & Mary on Friday and Elon on Sunday. With a pair of wins, the top of the conference standings will be very interesting this time next week, as the tilt between JMU and Drexel would likely decide the regular season CAA champion.
3. Towson (17-9, 11-4 CAA), previously No. 3
While there’s likely nothing Towson could do to leapfrog JMU or Drexel, the Tigers are starting to look like a scary team. They’ve won four straight games thanks to redshirt sophomore guard Kionna Jeter, who’s leading the CAA in scoring at 18.1 points per game. Towson is two games in front of UNCW and 1.5 back of Drexel, so its position likely won’t change before the tournament. Still, Friday’s game against JMU should be treated as a must-win, as it could give the Tigers the confidence needed to compete with the CAA’s best.
4. UNCW (16-10, 9-6 CAA), previously No. 5
UNCW is in an interesting place in the CAA standings, as the Seahawks appear to be a tier below JMU and Drexel but clearly in the top half of the conference. JMU junior guard Kamiah Smalls said the team keeps its eyes on UNCW, the CAA team to beat the Dukes this season, but after a 65-53 home loss to Drexel, the Seahawks don’t look like a contender. Still, UNCW defeated Delaware 72-64 on Sunday, enough to vault it over the Blue Hens in this week’s rankings.
5. Delaware (13-13, 8-6 CAA), previously No. 4
Delaware hosts this year’s CAA tournament, which may give them an additional edge in a few weeks. Still, it’s crucial for the Blue Hens to take care of business against Elon on Friday and William & Mary on Sunday if they’re to be taken seriously as a dark horse to win the conference. After a loss to UNCW, it’s difficult to defend keeping Delaware in the same place in the power rankings.
6. Northeastern (15-10, 5-9 CAA), previously No. 7
Northeastern is second in the CAA in scoring (68.7 points per game) and third in point differential (+3), which suggests the Huskies can be a factor in the conference tournament if they can get stops from their sixth-ranking defense (65.6 points allowed per game). JMU head coach Sean O’Regan said he’s not ruling out Northeastern as a title contender after the team’s strong start to the season. However, the Huskies haven’t shown the consistency in conference play one would expect to see from an above-average team, hence the team’s position in the CAA power rankings.
7. William & Mary (12-13, 5-9 CAA), previously No. 6
William & Mary dropped a pair of games last week to two of the top three teams in the CAA: Towson and JMU. O’Regan said in an interview Wednesday he believes there are only seven contenders to win the CAA tournament, and William & Mary is one of them. The Tribe can support that claim with wins over Drexel on Friday or Delaware on Sunday. Otherwise, there’s no reason to believe William & Mary will win multiple games in the tournament.
8. Elon (8-17, 3-11 CAA), previously No. 8
Elon and the teams below it in the conference standings have little-to-no chance of making the conference semifinals. The Phoenix play Delaware on Friday and Drexel on Sunday, which will likely be two easy wins for their opponents. Barring a small miracle, Elon will play in the first round of the conference tournament with a strong chance to win the first-round game.
9. Hofstra (8-18, 2-12 CAA), previously No. 10
Hofstra escaped the CAA cellar with a win over Northeastern that snapped a six-game losing streak, though the Pride is still a half-game back from ninth place. A Friday matchup with the College of Charleston will likely determine who will play the No. 7 seed and who will play the No. 8 seed in the first round of the conference tournament.
10. College of Charleston (7-19, 3-12 CAA), previously No. 9
The College of Charleston lost its last five games and slipped to No. 10 in the power rankings after Hofstra picked up a 63-62 win over Northeastern. The Cougars look to prevent a Hofstra winning streak in its Friday game against the Pride before they face the Huskies on Sunday.
Contact James Faris at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more basketball coverage, follow the sports desk on Twitter @TheBreezeSports.