2013 Tournament Breakdown: Colonial Athletic Association
March 9-11 Richmond Coliseum (Richmond, Va.) | Bracket
This tournament is maybe more notable for who is not in it — VCU (via league exit), Old Dominion (via pending league exit) and Towson (via APR ban) — than who remains to contest it. But it should be a very balanced, competitive event. Northeastern was the regular-season champ and earned the only bye available into the semifinals. Four or five teams could win the event, though, and who does will help determine whether the league will suffer the ignominy of a 16-seed PIG in Dayton.
Key Matchup: No. 4 George Mason vs. No. 5 Drexel
Based on preseason expectations, this is a shocking quarterfinal matchup at these seeds, but here we are. The winner takes on Northeastern in what appears clearly to be the stronger half of the tournament bracket. Northeastern swept both teams in regular-season play, but you have to believe the winner of this one has something in the tank to give the Huskies a solid test in the semis.
Team to Watch: Delaware
Possessing maybe the top individual talents in the league, the Blue Hens also avoid the Northeastern/Mason/Drexel side of the bracket, only having to handle one of those teams in a final should they make it there. They closed by winning 10 of their final 12 CAA games and have swept first opponent Hofstra, albeit with a one-point road win in the mix.
Hottest Storyline: Low point for a proud conference
The league that busted the glass ceiling for mid-majors with Mason’s 2006 Final Four run has dropped to its nadir. At-large possibilities were more or less extinct a month into the season and the league will be hard-pressed to avoid a 16-seed in the NCAAs. Just a really, really poor year for a league in transition, but brighter times appear ahead.
The Pick: Delaware
With zero conviction, I’ll go with the Blue Hens. They have the easiest side of the bracket and the size and physical talent to put things together for three days. Both games with Northeastern were very close, so if that’s the final, it should be very competitive, if not necessarily great.