With the CAA season fully under way, COVID-19 has begun to take its toll. As recently as Tuesday, it was announced that W&M’s games are postponed through the next two weekends.
At this point, some CAA teams have only played ten games, while others have played just five. That’s quite a disparity.
In what has been a wacky CAA season thus far, we’re here to provide updated power rankings — a semblance of normalcy in an otherwise abnormal time.
Before diving into the ranks, let’s refresh your memory on preseason rankings:
The Tribe, winners of four of its last six, rank #5 in CAA standings through the first five weeks of conference play. A remarkable feat by Coach Fischer and his staff.
But forget the actual standings — lets get to our power rankings.
CAA POWER RANKINGS:
FEBRUARY 4, 2021
Northeastern (8-6, 7-1 CAA)
The Huskies are certainly playing like the best team in CAA, owning a 2+ game advantage over every other team in the CAA.
Northeastern started its CAA schedule on a 7-game win streak before dropping their most recent game to JMU.
Northeastern is once again a balanced team, ranking #6 in scoring offense and #4 in scoring defense.
They are led by sophomore superstar Tyson Walker (16.9 PPG, 5.3 assists per game), freshman Jahmyl Telfort (12.0 PPG), and junior Shaquille Walters (11.4 PPG, 7 Rebounds per game).
Northeastern was picked to finish SEVENTH in the preseason CAA poll, reminiscent of W&M’s being picked to finish 7th in the preseason poll a year ago before finishing #2 in the league.
Huskies head coach Bill Coen really doesn’t get the respect he deserves; Northeastern is consistently a tough out, and they’re proving yet again to be one of the best, if not the best, team in the CAA this season.
Hofstra (11-6, 7-3 CAA)
Hofstra, winners of the CAA a season ago, ranked #1 in this year’s preseason polls. After a bit of a slow start (beginning 2-3), the Pride has since rattled off 5 straight wins.
As usual, the Pride is led by a high-powered offense, one that ranks #3 in the league and averages 71.5 points per game.
The Pride boasts strong guard play in seniors Jalen Ray (17.9 PPG) and Tareq Coburn (15.5 PPG); they also have a true stat-stuffer in Isaac Kante (12.8 PPG, 10.3 rebounds per game).
The Pride are well-coached and experienced, but they have yet to pull off a “signature” win.
Sure, they beat Delaware 68-67 earlier this month, but they split the series with the Blue Hens. The Pride’s other six wins came against William & Mary, Towson, and UNCW — who are a combined 7-15 in the CAA.
We have no doubt this team is capable of pulling off bigger wins. In fact, we expect them to.
The Pride has aspirations of dancin’ two years in a row, and they’ll certainly be in the hunt when the regular season is all said and done.
JMU (10-5, 5-1 CAA)
The JMU Dukes might just be the best story in the CAA right now.
Picked to finish just above W&M in the CAA Preseason Rankings (#9), JMU is 4-1 in league play thus far.
While it’s a bit tough to evaluate the Dukes due to a limited sample size, we like we’ve seen from the Purple and Gold just five games in.
Currently, the Dukes are riding a 3-game winning streak; they’re also the only team that has beaten Northeastern. No small feat in and of itself!
JMU, like Hofstra, is led by a prolific offense. The Dukes rank 1st in scoring in the CAA, averaging 78.8 PPG.
They also have arguably the best player in the league, preseason All-CAA Player of the Year Matt Lewis. Lewis currently leads the CAA in scoring, averaging 21.4 PPG. With numbers like that, it’s no wonder JMU has the league’s #1 offense.
The Dukes, again like Hofstra, have a dangerous guard duo in Matt Lewis and Vado Morse (13.9 PPG), but they’re not the only ones who can score for JMU — eight Dukes players average 5 points or more this season.
We’re interested to see how the rest of the season plays out for JMU, but we love what new head coach Mark Byington and company are doing at JMU up in Harrisonburg.
And although they’re certainly a W&M rival, it’s nice to see the Dukes relevant on the court again after spending a couple seasons in the basement of the league.
Charleston (5-8, 3-3 CAA)
You may look at this ranking and think: how in the world do you have Charleston ranked above Delaware? Isn’t Charleston on a 2 game losing streak?
Yes, that is true, but let’s dive deeper. Charleston is on a 2-game losing streak, but both of their losses came against the aforementioned best team in the league: Northeastern.
Before those two games, Charleston was 3-1 through four combined games against Delaware and Drexel.
Yes, Delaware is riding a 3-game win streak, but the Blue Hens boast far less impressive wins, beating UNCW once and Elon twice — two teams that have combined for a meager 1-9 CAA record.
And while it’s still early in the season, we’re giving the benefit of the doubt to the Cougars.
Charleston is as balanced as they come, ranking #5 in the CAA in both scoring offense and scoring defense.
They have three players averaging double digit point totals, including senior Payton Willis (13.3 PPG, 42.9% 3-point FG PCT).
In summary, we like what we’re seeing from the Cougars so far this season; they have a relatively easy road ahead, with their next 4 games coming against Towson and Elon.
Expect to see the Cougars rise over the coming weeks.
Delaware (7-7, 5-4 CAA)
Delaware has had an interesting start to CAA play, to say the least.
After winning their opening game against the College of Charleston (impressive), Delaware went on to lose four of their next five games, dropping to 2-5 in CAA play.
During that losing streak, Delaware suffered a bad loss to UNCW; in fact, that game still stands as the Seahawks’ only CAA win on the season.
While we certainly aren’t counting out the Blue Hens, they haven’t shown us much — at least not yet.
As mentioned when analyzing Charleston, the Blue Hens are on a 3-game win streak, but that’s come against the bottom two teams in the league: UNCW and Elon.
Again in summary, the blue Hens certainly have the talent to turn it around. Led by seniors Ryan Allen (14.5 PPG) and Dylan Painter (13.2 PPG, 11.8 rebounds per game), UD just hasn’t shown us enough at this point in the season to warrant a higher power rank.
William & Mary (6-7, 4-4 CAA)
The fact that W&M is .500 in CAA play through eight games is quite a feat, especially considering their strength of schedule thus far.
The Green and Gold started league play by facing off against the preseason #1-3 ranked teams, in that order: Hofstra, Delaware, and Drexel.
After losing the first two games against Hofstra, the Tribe has won four of its last six games — including two solid victories over Delaware and Drexel.
Much like last year, when the Tribe was picked to finish #7 in the CAA (and finishing #2), W&M is far exceeding its preseason #10 ranking this year.
In fact, W&M is currently ranked #5 in the CAA (in the actual standings). Let us repeat that: W&M is ranked #5 in the CAA through the first five weeks.
A remarkable feat for the Green and Gold, especially given the loss of players like Nathan Knight and Andy Van Vliet in the offseason, all the credit has to go to Coach Dane Fischer and his staff.
Coach has his squad firing on all cylinders, more than maximizing the talent of this young, hungry team.
This season, W&M is led by senior Luke Loewe (16.7 PPG), but also boasts two other players who average double digit point totals in freshman Connor Kochera (12.1 PPG) and junior Quinn Blair (11.8 PPG).
Freshman Yuri Covington is also very close to averaging double digit point totals, currently sitting at 9.9 PPG.
This is a young and well-balanced team with a very bright future.
The good thing about the Tribe’s tough, early-season strength of schedule start is that the back half gets a little easier.
After playing JMU next weekend (since postponed), W&M goes on to play four games against UNCW and Elon, who, again, have a combined one win in the CAA so far (1-9).
If the Tribe can take care of business against UNCW and Elon (assuming the games happen), before finishing the season against Northeastern, we won’t be talking about W&M playing on the first day of the CAA Tournament; instead, we’ll be talking about how far this Dane Fischer-led team can go in postseason play.
Drexel (7-6, 2-4 CAA)
Drexel is another team that has had its schedule significantly changed due to COVID-19.
The Dragons’ opening CAA games against UNCW were postponed due to COVID-19.
Since then, the team has only won two of its seven games on the season, with both wins coming against William & Mary.
We don’t know what to make of this Dragons team. They have two All-CAA caliber players in Camren Wynter (17 PPG) and James Butler (14.4 PPG, 9.7 rebounds per game).
They lead the CAA in scoring defense (64.2 PPG), rank fourth in scoring offense (70.5 PPG), yet they find themselves at 2-5 on the season.
One could argue that they should be ranked higher than W&M since they went 2-1 in 3 games against the Green and Gold.
But we’ll give the edge to W&M for now, given the fact that the Tribe has won four of its last six, while Drexel is riding a 2-game losing streak. It’s a close call, any way you look at it.
Towson (3-10, 2-6 CAA)
The Tigers have been one of the biggest let-downs in the CAA this season.
Picked to finish #4 in the CAA, the Tigers are a lowly 2-6 through CAA play, having dropped their previous five contests.
In fact, the Tigers’ only two CAA wins came over UNCW, who again, is just 1-5 on the season.
Towson is led by senior and preseason First Team All-CAA selection Zane Martin (15.5 PPG, 3.3 assists per game), but he alone (while a great talent) has not been enough.
Towson ranks dead-last in the CAA in scoring defense, giving up an average of 76.3 PPG.
The road ahead doesn’t get much easier for the Tigers, as they finish the season against Charleston, Northeastern, Drexel, and Delaware. Ouch…
UNCW (7-8, 1-5 CAA)
The Seahawks are performing as expected this season, to say the least.
Picked to finish #8 in CAA Preseason Rankings, we place UNCW at #9 in these power rankings.
On paper, the Seahawks rank #2 in the CAA in scoring offense, averaging 76.9 PPG.
Again, on paper, UNCW has FIVE players averaging double digit point totals, including stud junior Jaylen Sims, who ranks #3 in the entire CAA in scoring (17.6 PPG). So what’s the problem?
Digging a little deeper, it appears that UNCW seriously lacks depth. Further, UNCW ranks dead last in field goal percentage defense, and dead last in rebounding margin.
Gone are the days when Devontae Cacok would average what seemed like 20 rebounds per game (in fact, he probably did average something like that).
The Seahawks’ one win though was an impressive feat: a 77-70 victory over Delaware. But this year’s ‘Hawks don’t have much to boast about outside of that. A transitional, rebuilding year, to be sure.
Elon (3-6, 0-5 CAA)
Talk about a team ravaged by COVID-19.
Before this past weekend, the Phoenix had eight straight games postponed due to COVID-19. Eight!
Before playing on Saturday (1/30), the Phoenix’s last game came against Northeastern on 1/3. Essentially an entire month between games.
Now that would be difficult for any team to endure, yet prosper through.
As such, it’s tough to assess the Phoenix given their shortened schedule. After winning their first three games in out-of-conference play, the Phoenix have lost five straight contests, including two to Northeastern and two to Delaware.
But losing to Delaware and Northeastern (strong teams in their own rights) isn’t unexpected; but that makes it that much harder to assess just how good (or bad) Elon truly is.
For now, we’ll call it like we see it: Elon has yet to win a CAA game and are losers of five straight contests. For now at least, the Phoenix find themselves in the basement of our CAA Power Rankings.
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