- Ky McKeon
(Compare to our preseason preview here)
- The Phoenix Turned to Ashes and then Never Came Back - WTF Elon? SMDH. By far the biggest CAA disappointment this season was Elon, a team that returned ALL FIVE starters from 2016-17, a year in which it went 10-8 in a strong conference. The Phoenix were 3rd in the country in minutes continuity but just didn't have the bench to thrust into league contention. I think I bet on Elon ten or so times this year... I think I lost every bet.
- North by Northeast - Northeastern took the league by storm this season, winning its final seven games and finishing tied for first in the standings. San Diego transfer Vasa Pusica was outstanding this season, ranking 4th in the CAA in assists and 9th in scoring. The Huskies were also the best defensive team in the league by a large margin. Their adjusted defensive efficiency of 101.9 was over 5 basis points better than the 2nd ranked squad. Lockdown perimeter defender Shawn Occeus had a lot to do with that.
- A Clear Divide - There were five respectable basketball teams in the CAA this season (Northeastern, Charleston, William & Mary, Towson, and Hofstra). The other five teams (Elon, James Madison, Drexel, Delaware, and UNC Wilmington) were absolute trash. The first group ranked around the KenPom top 150, the second group all finished around 250. Could this mean fewer tournament upsets to come?
What to Watch:
Charleston was supposed to run away with the conference crown this season. The Cougars haven't been bad, but the once stout defense for which Earl Grant teams have become known wasn't there this year. On the flip side, this was the best offensive team C of C has ever had. The Cougs have the best roster in the league but will have to face off against either Towson or W&M in the second round, two teams that upended Charleston during the season.
- How will the hot and cold teams fare? Northeastern was won seven straight coming into the Tourney, Hofstra has won four, and Charleston has won 11 of 12. On the flip side, Elon has dropped six straight, and Towson comes stumbling in after losing its last three.
Who Will Win:
- Charleston - I thought the Cougars were the best mid-major team in the country in the preseason (this doesn't include the WCC, MWC, or CUSA, relax). The Joe Chealey / Grant Riller backcourt combination is a fierce scoring combo and a healthy Jarrell Brantley up front gives C of C a balanced attack on both ends of the floor.
If Not Them, Then:
Northeastern - The Huskies are on fire and have Vasa Pusica, a 6'5" point guard and one of the best players in the CAA. It seems strange Bill Coen has only made one NCAA Tournament in his Northeastern coaching career, but he's had a strong track record of competitiveness during his tenure.