Colonial Athletic Association (conference rank: 12th)
All games at North Charleston, S.C.
kPOY: TJ Williams, Northeastern
Regular season champ: UNC-Wilmington (preseason #72 / 1st CAA, current #58)
Overachiever: Northeastern (preseason #201, current #137)
Underachiever: James Madison (preseason #109, current #229)
The preseason ratings were very high on the CAA and for the most part, the conference lived up to the billing. UNCW and Charleston were preseason top 80 teams and they currently sit at 58th and 88th respectively. And while William & Mary, Hofstra, and James Madison didn’t live up to expectations, Northeastern and Towson made up some of the difference with better-than-expected seasons.
And how about Northeastern senior TJ Williams? There may not be a more improved senior in the country. After three seasons using no more than 19.4% of his team’s possessions, Williams became the conference’s best player in his final season with the Huskies.
I’m not one that strongly believes that we should blindly give more mid-majors chances in the NCAA tournament. If a mid-major is one of the 36 best at-larges, great! If not, sorry. Now, there are ways to tweak the rules of the game to give less-talented, more-experienced teams better chances to regularly be among the best teams, but that’s a topic that requires a more words than I can devote here.
That said, one structural disadvantage that a team from say, the CAA, faces is the inability to ever luck into an at-large bid in a way that a team from say, the Pac-12 or the Big Ten, can. If you look across a bunch of power ratings, USC and Illinois aren’t fundamentally better than UNC-Wilmington. But when USC and Illinois have their best performances of the season, it’s infinitely more likely to result in a quality win than it is for UNCW. Plop the Trojans or Illini in this year’s CAA tournament needing to win an auto-bid and each would likely fail just as the Seahawks will likely fail.
Charleston is given a half home-court advantage in the calculations below.
Qtrs Semis Final Champ 1 UNC Wilmington 100 82.7 61.0 37.9 2 College of Charleston 100 83.6 57.2 32.0 3 Towson 100 53.0 20.6 7.8 5 Elon 100 50.5 16.4 6.6 6 Northeastern 100 47.0 17.3 6.2 4 William & Mary 100 49.5 15.6 6.1 8 Hofstra 75.3 15.7 6.7 2.2 7 James Madison 52.1 9.3 2.9 0.6 10 Drexel 47.9 7.1 2.0 0.4 9 Delaware 24.7 1.6 0.3 0.05