CAA Power Rankings: Marquee Matchups Make Mayhem

After a week full of top teams facing off, even Northeastern isn't as invulnerable as they once appeared. However, they're safe in the number one spot. After them? The rankings are about as sturdy as the top spot in the AP poll this year.

1. Northeastern (14-8, 9-1)

We all knew the game would come when the Huskies lost a conference game. Fans might have wanted an undefeated run through the CAA, but let's be real: a winning streak like that heading into the conference tournament or the big dance? That's a recipe for disaster.

In other words: be glad they lost to Georgia State.

And also, feel no shame. The Huskies fought tooth and nail during that game, they shot 53.1 percent from the field, and they had five players with eight points or more.

They just didn't have an answer for R.J. Hunter. Once again I say: feel no shame.

The takeaway from this week instead is that they came back with a standout, effectively dominating win over Drexel. It may have been a seven point difference, but the Huskies' defense absolutely shut the Dragons down early, limiting Damion Lee to seven points after games of 29 and 30 leading into the contest.

Sure, they lost. But the answer meant just as much.

2. George Mason (13-9, 6-4)

For as unpredictably up and down as the Patriots have been this year, they haven't had a single streak, win or lose, longer than three games. In short, if they lose a couple in a row, you can almost bet your house on them winning the next one.

So it came as no surprise that, after suffering a crushing collapse against Drexel, they came back with a statement win over James Madison.

Heading into the contest I was starting to have my doubts about the Patriots' longevity as well as their spot in these rankings; I thought that the Dukes might snatch the number two spot from their clutches.

Forty game minutes later, Sherrod Wright had picked up 22 points, 11 rebounds, and the Patriots had put the Dukes in their rearview mirror.

Of course, Wright always shows up. The most concerting part of the win for GMU fans? Jonathan Arledge's 19 points to help the cause.

3. Delaware (11-11, 6-3)

Unlike George Mason, the Blue Hens have built their season on winning and losing streaks. After a highly disappointing previous week, they came back this week and put three strong wins together to bolster their confidence moving forward.

Their game against Drexel served to be more of a scare than they had hoped after starting the game with a 21-9 lead, but their key players all contributed in waves, including Carl Baptiste's career night and Kyle Anderson's best game of 2013 as they held off a ferocious Damion Lee.

And then they beat William & Mary and UNC-W, two teams who aren't exactly staunch competition for the Hens to prove themselves against at this point.

However, Jamelle Hagins seemed to get back into form against the Seahawks and Keith Rendleman, which bodes well for the team as they move forward and play Towson's Jerrelle Benimon next. Hagins will be the key piece in that game for the Hens. If they win, he has a double-double. If not, they don't.

4. James Madison (13-11, 7-4)

A 10-5 record in your last 15 games is a great record unless you're talking about AP Top 25 teams.

Luckily, this is the CAA. So that's a great record.

Unluckily for the Dukes, they missed their chance to hop aboard the second spot in these rankings, and were actually relegated to the fourth spot after failing to take down George Mason at home.

It was a five point game, and Devon Moore was able to pour in 25 points, four rebounds, and five assists, but the team together shot 40.8 percent.

That inefficiency, paired with getting Rayshawn Goins only seven shot attempts compared to his usual 10.8, resulted in an offensive effort that, to my surprise, simply wasn't enough to take down the Patriots.

After a relatively easy matchup with William & Mary, the Dukes will face a week of trial by fire as they face four of the top six teams in the conference. It's gaming time, folks.

5. Towson (11-12, 6-4)

The Tigers are kind of falling fast. They only beat Old Dominion by two points on Wednesday in a game of "I bet we can miss more shots than you can!"as Jerrelle Benimon was called upon time and time again to lift the team over an awful Monarchs squad.

Trading leads with the worst team in your conference is not where you want to be at the end of January.

And so continues the story of the strangest team in the conference. The aforementioned Benimon is now tops in the country in double-doubles after recording his 15th with 21 points and 17 rebounds on Wednesday, and yet even he shot an awful 7 of 17 that night.

The team as a whole shot 39.3 percent from the field, and Benimon, Marcus Damas, and Rafael Guthrie combined for 19 of their 24 conversions from the field.

With that kind of centralized, inefficient scoring, their upcoming game with Delaware is either going to be a pleasant surprise or a predictable slaughter.

6. Drexel (9-13, 5-5)

The Dragons went 1-2 in Hell Week, but with a few bounces and proper calls, they could've gone 3-0. Of course, there are always "buts" in college hoops. The key is capitalizing on what actually goes down.

And Drexel failed to do so.

Despite Damion Lee scoring 59 points between the George Mason and Delaware games, they only won one of the two.

(To be fair, the referees hindered the Dragons in the Delaware game by fouling Lee out on a shaky call. But I digress.)

The true pain from the week came in game three. With four minutes remaining, they were down to Northeastern by just one point despite deserving to be down at least ten. Lee hadn't produced, Frantz Massenat was at his usual inefficient antics, and Dartaye Ruffin was their highest scorer. Dartaye Ruffin.

Then came the classic Dragon collapse, the one we've become accustomed to this year, and the one that will keep them from being truly competitive in the CAA as the season barrels to the finish line.

The Borderline

Georgia State: This was the toughest Borderline split that I've made in a long time. The Panthers beat Northeastern with a pretty impressive performance and then R.J. Hunter dropped 38 points... on Old Dominion. But when I look up, those six teams up there will beat GSU. The Colonial is crowded. I apologize, Panthers fans.

William & Mary: The Tribe had a mediocre week. They lost to Delaware and then beat Hofstra, so basically par for the course. But at the end of the day, 68.3 percent of their scoring is centralized in three players. That's not winning offensive basketball, which is why they're just 3-7 in conference play.

UNC-Wilmington: These poor Seahawks. They had to play Delaware and James Madison back to back, and as adorable as any team called the Seahawks are, they're not good enough to beat those two. They just don't have enough scoring power. These poor Seahawks.

And finally, I think it's about time we start taking bets on which team will win a game first: Old Dominion or Hofstra. If they can both hold out until February 24, we'll be able to take bets on the CAA Futility Championship. Honestly, I can't wait. Let's Go Losing Streaks!

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