By Kyle Jones
If asked to name every college basketball conference, one would be forgiven for forgetting the CAA. But this conference tournament is one that you don’t want to miss.
This season, the CAA has been hotly contested. While Hofstra leads the conference, with a conference record of 15-3, Northeastern is not far behind. The CAA is home to four teams with winning records: Hofstra, Northeastern, Charleston, and Delaware.
Ultimately, the favorite to win the tournament this season is the Hofstra Pride.
Early in the season, Hofstra suffered an overtime loss on the road against a strong VCU team. Although the Pride lost, they looked incredibly strong in defeat. The Pride then proceeded to go on a 16 game winning streak, which included a 75-72 victory over Northeastern, the 2nd place team in the CAA.
The Pride have never lost more than two games in a row this season, and hold at least one victory against every other CAA opponent. The Pride hold a season sweep against the Drexel Dragons (the best mascot in basketball), Towson, Charleston, William and Mary, Elon, and Delaware.
Hofstra averages about 84 points per game, with a scoring margin of 11.8. The Pride average 17.2 points off turnovers, and force an average of about 13 turnovers per game.
The Pride are led by senior guard Justin Wright-Foreman, who averages 26.8 points-per-game and is my player to watch.
Wright-Foreman has scored at least 30 points in four of his last six games. Wright-Foreman also posted a monumental 48 point showing against William and Mary.
With Hofstra dominating the conference, it seems very likely that the Pride is going to run away the CAA championship, but they will face competition from a strong Northeastern team.
The Northeastern Huskies earned a non-conference win over one of last year’s NCAA Tournament darlings, St. Bonaventure, as well as an away-win against current Ivy League runner-ups Harvard.
The Huskies, like Hofstra, hold at least one victory over every team in the CAA. Northeastern is one of the few teams in the CAA who has managed to defeat Hofstra and hold a season sweep over Elon, William and Mary, UNC-Wilmington, and James Madison.
Northeastern is led by Serbian guard Vasa Pusica, who is averaging 17.8 points-per-game. The Huskies are averaging 75.5 points-per-game, and hold opponents to 70.8.
Northeastern boasts the second-best defense in the CAA, while Hofstra is fifth. With the Huskies and the Pride being slated as the top two seeds, it seems inevitable that they will clash for the conference championship. Whoever takes home the CAA title will depend on whether the Huskie defense will be able to shut down the conference-leading Pride offense.
One team that isn’t getting as much attention is it probably should is Delaware.
UD, who went 14-19 last year, finished the season with a winning record and strong wins against Northeastern, Cornell, and William and Mary.
Delaware guard Ryan Allen is posting a team-best 16.3 points-per-game and put up a strong 30-point performance against Towson earlier this season.
Although Hofstra and Northeastern are getting the top billing, the Blue Hens are my dark horse for this years’ CAA tournament.
With the tournament starting March 9th, we’ll just have to watch and wait to see if I wind up right, and the Pride wind up champs.
Edited by Garrett Jones | Gcjh23@mail.missouri.edu