Joshua S. Kelly-US PRESSWIRE
In their first step towards rebuilding after losing (and eventually losing) three teams in the offseason, the CAA announced today that the College of Charleston Cougars will be joining the conference in 2013.
After losing their crown jewel of basketball prior to this year, the Colonial Athletic Association officially added a solid contributor in the College of Charleston for the 2013-14. The move had been expected since October and was announced Friday.
Just this offseason, the CAA was watching VCU, the former Final Four darlings and NCAA Tournament upset specialists, walk away from the league toward the greener pastures of the Atlantic 10. They also learned of Old Dominion's intent to join Conference USA next year, as well as Georgia State's commitment to the Sun Belt, so this serves as the CAA's first rebuilding block after a brief but rapid period of defection.
The College of Charleston Cougars are currently 4-2, and have the best overall record in the South division of the Southern Conference. Just last week they gained national recognition for approximately 36 hours when they knocked off Baylor, who at the time was ranked No. 24 in the country.
While the Cougars will lose senior guard Andrew Lawrence, their leading scorer with 14.6 points per game, they are an extremely deep team in terms of scoring, and they should almost certainly make noise in their first year of CAA play next season. After Lawrence, the Cougars will retain their next six players in points per game, all of whom average 5.3 points or better.
Taking a look at Mid-Major Madness's MRI Rankings, Charleston would be the third-highest rated team in the Colonial at No. 140, and they will certainly overtake Towson in the next iteration of the rankings. They could also find themselves ahead of George Mason if they defeat Elon on Saturday.
The transfer will essentially leave Davidson as the only big-name team in the Southern Conference. While the Wildcats have gotten off to a rocky 3-3 start this year, they still have greater name recognition and national attention than Elon or The Citadel, the two SoCon teams ahead of them according to the computer
Any CAA fans who want to see what their favorite team will be competing with next year can watch Charleston take on Louisville on ESPNU Saturday. They will also compete in a veritable changing-of-the-guard matchup against the CAA-defecting Old Dominion on December 18.