CAA Power Poll 5.0

The Colonial Athletic Association’s conference RPI has dropped to 15th in the country. There’s very little time to fix that, which means that it’s very doubtful the conference can get two teams in the NCAA Tournament, even if everything breaks right. The best-case scenario for the league is likely having some team win the tournament and hoping the committee wants to see Elena Delle Donne in the postseason. Otherwise, it’s win the conference tournament or else. That likely leaves Old Dominion out in the cold unless the Lady Monarchs do something incredible, like sweep through the CAA without a loss.

1. Delaware (6-3, RPI of 98) – Women’s basketball fans got the best gift they could ask for this Christmas, the return of Elena Delle Donne. Likely the most versatile player in women’s basketball, Delle Donne returned with 19 points against No. 9 Maryland and then dropped 30 against Monmouth in an 82-53 win. She hit all six of her free throws, four 3-pointers, had two blocks and nine rebounds. Against the Terrapins, the Blue Hens were within a possession in the second half. Delaware also has two wins against winning teams, the best in the CAA. This is why the Blue Hens haven’t budged from No. 1 despite the slow start. Previously 1.

2. Drexel (7-2, RPI of 90) – The Dragons’ 3-point loss against South Carolina is the best performance by a CAA team this season. Their other loss is a two-point loss to St. Joseph’s a team with an RPI of 60. There are no bad losses on Drexel’s schedule. There are no great wins either, though, with the best coming against a 4-4 Pennsylvania team. Only two opponents have scored more than 50 points against the Dragons, a sign that Drexel is imposing its style of play on others. Previously 2.
3. James Madison (4-6, RPI of 87) – I had the Dukes fifth until I was seconds away from posting this. I struggle to get over the fact that Nikki Newman, JMU’s best defender and a key player, is injured. At the same time, the Dukes’ win over Wisconsin-Green Bay is still the league’s premier win and gives JMU the league’s best RPI. Its five-point loss to Duquesne is another good result. Its win over American in its most recent game could mean that JMU is back on the right track. We know JMU can beat good teams. Other than Delaware, we can’t say that about anyone else. Previously 4.
4. Northeastern (6-2, RPI of 113) – Like Old Dominion, the Huskies have beaten a bunch of lousy teams, all by double-digits, and they’re winning games by an average of 16.6 points, the best in the CAA. Unlike the Lady Monarchs they have a win against a team with a winning record, 8-3 Boston University. While their losses (Temple and Eastern Michigan) aren’t nearly as impressive as ODU’s, they’ve come by a combined seven points. Deciding the three through five spots was probably the toughest it’s been this year. Previously 5.
5. Old Dominion (8-2, RPI of 125) – Like Drexel, the Lady Monarchs haven’t beaten anyone with a winning record. So what do we know about the Lady Monarchs? They’re better than South Carolina-Upsate. They’re better than Virginia Tech. They’re worse that Cal. They’re worse than Texas A&M. Somewhere in the vastness in between lies Old Dominion. What are the Lady Monarchs? We’ll find out soon. Previously 3.
6. Hofstra (3-7, RPI of 170) – Maybe the Pride are putting things together with wins in their last two games. Or maybe they benefitted from playing the New York Holiday Life Invitational on their home floor. They are the only team from the bottom five that I give any chance of cracking the top five at the end of the year based on the skill set of Shante Evans, likely the league’s top post player. Hofstra has wins against winning teams and BCS programs in its last two games, even if Ole Miss and Northwestern aren’t necessarily powerhouses. The best sign for Hofstra is probably that it's starting to play better and the bad record is at least partially attributable to a tough schedule. Previously 7.
7. George Mason (4-5, RPI of 172) – Put a line here. The power poll is like a Black & Tan. The top five teams are much better than the bottom. Hofstra’s floating somewhere in the middle where everything mixes together. The top five teams have a chance to win the CAA, should all qualify for the postseason and are all interesting. The rest have no chance and, if they make the postseason, provide only proof that too many teams qualify. The Patriots lost to George Washington. Old Dominion fans should remember how bad GW has been lately. Still, they’re the best of the rest. Previously 6.
8. Georgia State (7-2, RPI of 194) – Seven wins. None against a team with an RPI better than 168. Amidst beating all sorts of lousy teams, the Panthers lost to Belmont. Previously 8.
9. Towson (5-5, RPI of 277) – The Tigers have probably earned a spot above the Tribe and UNC-Wilmington based on resume. But with five wins against teams, all with RPIs below 300, has Towson really earned anything? The Tigers beat Delaware State in their most recent game so they’re still playing. Previously 10.
10. UNC-Wilmington (1-8, RPI  314) – Close losses to Wake Forest and Charlotte show that the Seahawks can occasionally put a few things together. Very few, of course, but enough to keep them out of last place. Five straight losses. on the other hand are very concerning. In UNCW’s defense, it has played only twice at home, two of its better efforts. Previously 11.
11. William & Mary (2-7, RPI of 315) – Four straight losses including losses to North Carolina A&T and Texas-San Antonio. Previously 9.
-- Chris Carlson


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