With three weeks and five games left in the CAA regular season, there is now a clear line of delineation between the top four teams in the Colonial and the rest of the teams that will likely be battling out on Pillow Fight Friday, as @VCUPav puts it. Two games separate fourth place Old Dominion from fifth place Georgia State. So with that in mind, lets go "Down on the Corner" to get this CCR started.
- Drexel (19-5, 11-2 CAA) - There is a three way tie in the CAA standings but the Dragons have the tiebreaker having beat VCU and George Mason (they also don't play either team again this season). Drexel's also seems to have the easiest remaining schedule; at James Madison, home to Hofstra and William and Mary, BracketBuster game at Cleveland State, home to James Madison and at ODU.
The Dragons, the hottest team in the CAA with eleven straight wins, are there usual defensive selves; first in scoring defense, third in field goal percentage defense, first in three point field goal percentage defense with a scary 25.9% three pointers allowed and of course, first in rebounding margin. But what has made Drexel so effective this season is their offense is so much better than last season. They are second in field goal percentage, first in three point field goal percentage, third in assist to turnover ratio and still first in free throw percentage at 73.7 percent.
- VCU (20-5, 11-2 CAA) - The Rams are the second hottest team in the CAA, winners of nine straight and are tied with the Dragons and the Patriots for first place. However, their remaining schedule is the toughest of the three teams; home to Towson, then at ODU and George Mason, home BracketBuster game vs. Northern Iowa, at UNCW, then home to George Mason to finish the season.
The Rams commitment to forcing teams to turn the ball over has been what's most impressive to me. In the two games I saw them play vs. Hofstra and Delaware they won the turnover battle in both games by a combined +12 margin (31-19). Not surprisingly, the Rams are first in the CAA in turnover margin at +5.44 per game. They are also first in assist to turnover ratio.
- George Mason (19-6, 11-2 CAA) - The Patriots fell into a tie for first place after losing at Delaware, but they bounced back at home to knock ODU out of a four way tie for first. Their schedule is not the easiest as well; home to Hofstra, at UNCW, home to VCU, home BracketBuster game vs. Lamar, then at Northeastern and at VCU to finish the regular season.
George Mason has been equally as balanced as Drexel. They are first in field goal percentage at 45.4% per game while second in field goal percentage defense at 38.6 percent. But to me, here is the most impressive stat. They lead the CAA in scoring at 70.7 points per game despite being tenth in three point field goals made per game with 4.6 per game. The Patriots are averaging over fifty percent on their two point field goals.
- Old Dominion (15-10, 10-3 CAA) - Despite the road loss to the Patriots, the Monarchs have won eight of their last ten games. The rest of their schedule is not exactly easy; away at William and Mary, home vs. VCU, home to UNCW, road BracketBuster game vs. Missouri State, road game at Georgia State, home to Drexel. The game against the Panthers may very well have a #4 seed on the line.
The Monarchs are second in the CAA assists and third in steals. So it's not surprising they they are third in turnover margin in the Colonial. Those categories make up for the fact they are tenth in field goal percentage and allow them to be fifth in scoring margin in the CAA.
- Georgia State (16-8, 8-5 CAA) - If there is any team that has a shot of breaking into the top four of the CAA, it would be the Panthers. Their remaining schedule favors them; home to Northeastern and Delaware; away at James Madison, home BracketBuster game vs Texas San Antonio, home vs. ODU and away at William and Mary. As previously noted, that home game against the Monarchs may be huge.
The Panthers were impressive in their win this past Saturday vs. Hofstra. Georgia State, behind Eric Buckner's league leading 3.3 blocks per game, leads the CAA in blocks per game. The Panthers also lead the CAA in field goal percentage defense, second in steals, second in turnover margin and assist to turnover ratio.
- Northeastern (11-12, 7-6 CAA) - The Huskies were right in the thick of things until losing their last two games against two of the top tier teams, Drexel and VCU. Their schedule makes it unlikely for them to finish any better than fifth; road games at Georgia State and William and Mary, home to Towson, then BracketBuster home game vs. Stony Brook, home to George Mason, then at Delaware.
What also doesn't bode well for the Huskies is that statistically they are in the lower half of the CAA in most categories. They are fifth in the CAA in field goal percentage, third in three point field goal percentage, yet the Huskies are tenth in scoring offense at 61.3 points per game. Perhaps it's because Northeastern averages the second most turnovers in the CAA next to Towson (15.5 per game).
- Delaware (11-12, 7-6 CAA) - The Blue Hens have righted themselves, winning their last two games including a home win over then first place George Mason. Delaware's schedule also favors them for a late season run; home to UNCW, then road games at George Mason and Hofstra; BracketBuster home game vs. Hampton, then a road game at Towson and home game vs. Northeastern.
The Blue Hens are statistically strong in several CAA categories; third in scoring offense, fourth in free throw percentage, fourth in field goal percentage defense, third in blocked shots. Unfortunately, they struggle in assists and creating turnovers. They are dead last in assists and steals, tenth in turnover margin and eleventh in assist to turnover ratio.
- UNCW (9-14, 5-8 CAA) - The Seahawks ended a four game losing streak by defeating William and Mary at home. Hopefully the win will give them confidence with a tough remaining schedule; road game at Delaware, home game vs. George Mason, road game at Old Dominion, then BracketBuster road game at Manhattan, home game vs. VCU and road game at Hofstra.
UNCW is fourth in the CAA in field goal percentage at 42.5%, fifth in three point field goal percentage at 33.3% and third in three point field goal percentage defense. The problem is they are only eighth in field goal percentage defense as they allow teams to score fifty percent of their two point field goal attempts.
- James Madison (10-15, 3-10 CAA) - The Dukes have lost six of their last seven games. However, there may be two wins on the horizon since they play the Tigers twice. Their remaining schedule is home to Drexel, at Towson, home to Georgia State, BracketBuster road game at Detroit, road game at Drexel, then home to Towson.
It's the same old problem for James Madison; lack of defense. The Dukes are fourth in the CAA in scoring offense, first in assists and fourth in assists to turnover ratio and turnover margin. Yet JMU is eleventh in scoring defense, tenth in field goal percentage defense, eleventh in three point field goal percentage defense, eleventh in rebounding margin and eleventh in block shots.
- Hofstra (8-17, 2-11 CAA) - The Pride couldn't keep the momentum after defeating Towson as they lost at home to Georgia State. The first two games on their remaining schedule are the hardest; road games at George Mason and Drexel, home to Delaware, home BracketBuster game vs. Siena, at William and Mary, home to UNCW.
The best indicator of how many close games Hofstra has lost is scoring margin, as the Pride are -1.1. Hofstra is third in free throw percentage, fourth in steals, fifth in turnover margin and fifth in offensive rebounds. Where they are struggling is next to last in three point field goals made at 4.3 per game, field goal percentage, ninth at 40.9 percent and ninth in field goal percentage defense at 43.9 percent.
- William and Mary (4-21, 2-11 CAA) - The Tribe have lost eight games in a row. However, they have a chance to improve their record as they have four of their five remaining conference games at home; home games vs. ODU and Northeastern, road game vs. Drexel, road BracketBuster game vs. VMI, home games vs. Hofstra and Georgia State.
Statistically, it's been a very bad year for the Tribe. They are ranked in the 300's in the nation in several categories, 321st in points per game - 59.6, 322nd in rebounds per game 30.4, 329th in assists per game - 10.0 and 312th in field goal percentage at 40 percent. However, they can shoot their free throws as they are 2nd in the CAA at 72 percent and they are third in the CAA in three pointers per game at 6.7.
- Towson (1-24, 1-12 CAA) - The Tigers ended their NCAA record winless streak when they defeated UNCW at home. It will be tough for them to get another win since four of their remaining six games are on the road; at VCU, home to James Madison, at Northeastern, at New Hampshire, home to Delaware and at James Madison.
As bad as it has been statistically for William and Mary, it's been worse for Towson; dead last in the NCAA in points per game, 49.8, next to last in assists per game at 8.0, second to last in field goal percentage at 36.8 percent. They also average about 19 turnovers per game. The bright side is they can rebound their misses. They are second in the CAA in offensive rebound percentage and 28th in the country in that category.