VCU faces its first and only CAA opponent on Friday in ODU. The problem: the CAA is in the midst of an historically awful season.
March 12, 2011 could forever be remembered as the pinnacle of CAA basketball. After years of climbing to the top of the mid-major hierarchy, George Mason, Old Dominion, and VCU made the NCAA Tournament in a rare three bid season. The climb was steep and extended, but full of NCAA Tournament highlights including a 2006 Final Four run by George Mason, an Eric Maynor game winner over Duke, and an ODU victory over Notre Dame.
That 2011 NCAA tournament was full of magic for fans of the Richmond-based athletic conference. Fueled by incomparable swagger, VCU won five games to reach the Final Four in the most improbable and dramatic fashion. George Mason rallied back against Villanova before losing to #1 seed Ohio State. Old Dominion lost on a buzzer beating Matt Howard layup to eventual national runner up Butler. It was an extremely strong showing by a conference that had had just 2 at-large bids since 2000.
14 months later, VCU jumped ship, and did so as quickly as possible. Just weeks removed from the departure of athletic director Norwood Teague, the university announced that it would join the A-10 in 2012 instead of 2013, and it now looks like the haste was worth the hustle. The CAA is currently in the midst of one of the worst seasons in memory, while VCU and Butler are redefining the concept of depth in an already loaded Atlantic 10.
|Con. rank||Team||Non-Conference||Conference||RPI||SOS||Con. rank||Team||Non-Con record||Conference record||RPI||SOS|
|3||La Salle||10-3||8-3||#34||#77||4||JMU||6-7||9-5||#223||#310||5||Xavier||7-6||7-4||#98||#96||5||Georgia State||5-8||9-6||#218||#247|
|6||Massachusetts||10-3||6-5||#58||#62||8||William & Mary||6-5||5-9||#277||#322|
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Head to Head
- 11/10 • La Salle over Delaware, 73-66
- 11/13 • UR over UNCW, 101-58
- 11/19 • Duquesne over JMU, 90-88
- 11/23 • Xavier over Drexel, 69-65
- 11/24 • Charlotte over Northeastern, 67-59
- 11/24 • George Washington over Hofstra, 80-56
- 11/25 • Temple over Delaware, 80-75
- 11/28 • George Washington over JMU, 54-53
- 11/28 • George Mason over Rhode Island, 55-52
- 11/28 • Richmond over W&M, 6-78
- 12/4 • Richmond over Old Dominion, 80-53
- 12/4 • Massachusetts over Northeastern, 72-66
- A-10 leads 11-1 over CAA
Key wins for the A-10
- 11/15 • Massachusetts over Providence, 77-75
- 11/16 • Saint Joseph’s over #20 Notre Dame, 79-70
- 11/19 • Butler over Marquette, 72-71
- 11/20 • Butler over #9 UNC, 82-71
- 11/22 • VCU over #19 Memphis, 78-65
- 11/25 • La Salle over Villanova, 77-74 OT
- 12/1 • VCU over Belmont, 75-65
- 12/1 • Xavier over Purdue, 63-57
Key wins for the CAA
- 11/9 • George Mason over UVA, 63-59
- 11/13 • Delaware over UVA, 59-53
- 11/23 • Northeastern over Belmont, 74-71
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Bad Conduct & Bad Luck
Four Hofstra basketball players were arrested and charged with burglary. The players are accused of robbing six dorm rooms, and even head coach Mo Cassara’s house, of electronics including iPads and laptops. The story caught national headlines and the Pride’s already difficult season looks tougher than ever.
Drexel’s leading scorer Chris Fouch fractured his right ankle in the Dragon’s 3rd game of the season. Head coach Bruiser Flint already uses a very small rotation. The injury is devastating, and it could again leave Drexel short of the NCAA Tournament at the end of another once promising season.
The 2012 CAA Tournament at the Richmond Coliseum set an attendance record of 47,833 attendees while #1 Drexel and #2 VCU worked their way through the field leading to an epic Monday night battle on ESPN. Troy Daniels drained 4 straight free-throws in the final 19 seconds, and VCU went dancing while Drexel fell short of an at large bid.
In 2013, things will be different to say the least. VCU, the reigning champion, and their fans that have fueled six consecutive years of 42,000+ attendees will be home watching the Rams take on the Temple Owls. Conference-USA bound Old Dominion and Sun Belt bound Georgia State are banned from the tournament because of conference rules related to realignment. Towson and UNCW will also be forced to sit out of the tournament because of their low Academic Progress Rate.
The result: a seven team CAA tournament where the #1 seed can earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament by winning only two games.
The bottom line
It’s early in the season, but VCU’s move to the A-10 would have been a smart decision during the strongest CAA year. Come March, Shaka Smart and Co. may not have a flashy 29 wins, but punching an at-large ticket to the big dance from the deep and talented A-10 will be less challenging and more rewarding than in the struggling CAA.
VCU plays their first and only CAA opponent on Friday as the Rams face the Monarchs of Old Dominion. The game will be televised at 9:00 PM on NBC Sports Network.
Note: It is way, way too early to use RPI for meaningful analysis. Additionally the merits of this stat are and will forever be argued about until it no longer exists, but it is used extensively by the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee. The formula is a secretly modified version of 3 parameters: 25% team winning percentage, 50% opponent’s winning percentage, 25% opponent’s opponent’s winning percentage.