The CAA has its work cut out for it.
The announced departure of Georgia State (Sun Belt) and Old Dominion (Conference-USA) hurt. The same goes with VCU, which immediately left the league for the Atlantic 10.
Add to that the academic status of UNC-Wilmington and Towson, and the CAA will have just seven eligible teams for the conference tournament next March.
The NCAA announced that 10 basketball programs, including Wilmington and Towson are ineligible for the tournament next season due to poor APR scores.
Sounds depressing, doesn’t it? The CAA was on the verge of becoming a yearly multi-bid league. The conference should’ve had at least two teams this season, but the selection committee denied a very deserving Drexel team. Looking forward, those visions of getting multiple bids have to be put on hold.
VCU and Old Dominion have been solid programs with multiple NCAA Tournament appearances. And both squads have played well in the tournament, with VCU making the Final Four two seasons ago.
But all is not lost, at least not for the short term. For the short term, its good news for some of the remaining teams, including Hofstra. Why? Having to play in a seven-team CAA tournament is a lot easier than a 12-team tourney.
Sure, if Hofstra were to win the conference tournament, the victory would seem hollow to some because of the absence of conference heavyweights ODU and VCU. But a NCAA Tournament berth is a NCAA Tournament berth no matter how you slice it.
Hofstra has a lot going for it next season as transfer students Taran Buie (Penn State) and Jamal-Coombs McDaniel (UConn) are all eligible to play. Fresno State transfer Daquan Brown’s status is still pending. If he is granted a waiver to play immediately, the 6-10 center give Hofstra some much-needed size.
With that much new talent coming in and a few solid returnees in David Imes, Stevie Mejia, etc... Hofstra could actually emerge as a favorite to finish in the top four.
Neither ODU nor Georgia State officials were pleased with the decision to keep their team sports out of the conference tournaments, but CAA officials cited its long-standing bylaw that gives it the prerogative to do so. In 2001, the CAA prohibited American, East Carolina and Richmond from playing in the conference tournament, too.
Expect the CAA to look very different over the next couple of years. And it may not be just a change in the number of schools. Talk is circulated that conference officials have discussed the possibility of moving the league tournament from Richmond.
Assuming the CAA adds two to three more schools, the league may have to move or at least rotate the tournament to keep the new members happy. This is assuming the new schools aren’t located south of Delaware or Maryland.
Remaining eligible teams: Delaware, Drexel, George Mason, Hofstra, James Madison, Northeastern, William & Mary.
Ineligible teams: Georgia State (departing conference), Old Dominion (departing conference), Towson (APR), UNC-Wilmington (APR)