By: Jeff Parles, KCOU Sports
The Colonial Athletic Association, a once proud mid major starts their conference tournament tonight in Baltimore. The CAA has had a very down year but did feature a four-way tie at the top of the league between William & Mary, UNC Wilmington, Northeastern and James Madison. Here are my picks for the tournament.
#8 Elon v. #9 Towson
The bottom of the CAA was not very good this year. These two teams combined for 11 conference wins. Towson was able to sweep Elon in the regular season, but it is very difficult to beat a team three times in one season. Give me the Phoenix in this one.
#7 Drexel v #10 College of Charleston
This has really been a disaster of a season for the College of Charleston this season. Their coach Doug Wojcik was fired before the start of the season and the Cougars have struggled to an 8-23 overall record. The Dragons finished at .500 in the league after their bad loss earlier in the year to the University of the Sciences (yes, that’s a real school). I like the Dragons to advance.
#1 William & Mary v #8 Elon
The Tribe are still seeking their first NCAA Tournament appearance in school history. I like them to cruise into the Semifinals with a big win against Elon.
Pick: WILLIAM & MARY
#4 James Madison v #5 Hofstra
James Madison was 12-6 in CAA play this year as they went 12-0 against five through ten in the league but went winless against the top 3 teams in the CAA. I think that streak ends in this one as the Pride of Hofstra will move on.
#2 UNC Wilmington v #7 Drexel
The Seahawks were one of the biggest surprises across college basketball this season as they ended up 12 conference wins. First year coach Kevin Keatts has done an amazing job this season with a team that only featured one senior. But I think their remarkable season will come to an abrupt end as I like the Dragons to stun UNC Wilmington.
#3 Northeastern v #6 Delaware
Delaware won the CAA last year and actually gave Michigan State a tough game in the Round of 64 only to fall short. This year the Blue Hens stumbled to only 1 win in non conference play this year but salvaged a respectable 9-9 record in conference. The Huskies of Northeastern have been solid all year and they will advance to the semifinals.
#1 William & Mary v #5 Hofstra
William & Mary swept the Pride in the regular season including a 100 point explosion in the first meeting between these two clubs. I like the Tribe to roll for a third time against Hofstra and move into the CAA Championship.
Pick: WILLIAM & MARY
#3 Northeastern v #7 Drexel
The magical ride through the CAA Tournament will come to a crashing halt for the Dragons in this one. The Huskies will win the rubber match between these two teams and make it back to the finals.
#1 William & Mary v #3 Northeastern
These teams split their two meetings this season in which the home team won by both by at least 14 points. This game will be closer than both previous meeting and Northeastern will pull away at the end and take the CAA Title. Northeastern will make its first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 1991.