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Colonial Check-In: William & Mary, UNCW lead with four games remaining

The Colonial Athletic Association is tight. The top four spots are separated by just a single game in the loss column. William & Mary holds the top seed with the tiebreaker over UNC Wilmington, while Northeastern remains in the hunt with matchup against W&M looming.

William & Mary Athletics

There's a lot to love about the CAA this year.

It has been three years since the conference saw a race for the top seeds like the one forming down the stretch in 2015. It was back in 2012 when Drexel held off VCU, George Mason and Old Dominion, who were all separated by one game a piece.

With just four games left on each school's schedule, William & Mary holds the top seed in the CAA, currently winning the tiebreaker over UNC Wilmington thanks to a 2-0 record against the Seahawks. Just behind them is Northeastern and James Madison, both one game out from the top spot.

The beauty of all this? We've got matchups with major implications within the next two weeks.

Northeastern gets a visit from William & Mary on Feb. 18 with the chance to earn the tiebreaker over the Tribe. The negative for Northeastern is that they lost both games against UNCW, so they need the Seahawks to lose once in order to jump above them.

James Madison, the real dark horse in the race, will travel to Wilmington on Feb. 25. JMU needs to win out and get some help, due to their losses against the three teams in front of them.

This is all without mentioning that Hofstra and Drexel are hanging just one game behind Northeastern and JMU. The seeds are far from set.

Check out this edition of the CAA power rankings below.

1. William & Mary Tribe (16-9, 10-4 CAA, LW- 2):

The Tribe fell just one shot short of the NCAA Tournament last season and may be even stronger this year. Their well-rounded lineup can overwhelm teams with scoring from multiple different sources. And yet, the Tribe could be running away with the conference if it was not for unsightly losses at Charleston and vs. Delaware. With away games at Northeastern and Hofstra next up on the schedule, it is make or break time for William & Mary in their quest for the top seed.

2. UNCW Seahawks (15-10, 10-4, LW- 1):

UNCW may have the easiest road to the top seed with Towson, Delaware, JMU and Elon remaining on the schedule. The Seahawks hit a rough patch with two losses in the stretch of three games, but recovered with a nice win over Northeastern at home. Addison Spruill continues to produce for UNCW, scoring 16 or more points in four of the last five games.

3. Northeastern Huskies (17-10, 9-5, LW- 3):

A close loss at UNCW hurt a bit, but the Huskies can rebound in a big way with a win over William & Mary in Boston. They have games home against Drexel and then at Elon and Charleston to close the season, so winning out is realistic for Northeastern if they can get past the Tribe. The Huskies have four of five starters averaging double-figures, so the matchup with William & Mary should be a good one.

4. James Madison Dukes (16-11, 9-5, LW- 4):

The Dukes are riding a three-game winning streak into must win home games against Drexel and Charleston. JMU has an outside shot at the top seeds, which not many could have predicted earlier in the season. Ron Curry has stepped up in a big way for JMU, turning in games of 27 and 25 points in the last ten days.

5. Hofstra Pride (17-10, 8-6, LW- 5):

Hofstra would have fallen in these rankings if it weren't for their blowout road win over Drexel, who had been red-hot in the last few weeks. Ironically, the Pride's stars, Juan'ya Green and Ameen Tanksley, left the scoring to Moussa Kone and Malik Nichols, who combined for 38 points in the victory. With William & Mary and JMU left on the schedule, Hofstra will need the total team effort stay afloat heading into the CAA tournament.

6. Drexel Dragons (10-15, 8-6, LW- 6):

Drexel had two wins total on Jan. 5. They were 0-3 in the CAA and looked dead in the water. Fast forward a month and a half later, the Dragons were riding a six-game winning streak and have a winning record in CAA play. If it weren't for a crushing defeat to Hofstra, they would be still on that streak and higher in these rankings. Drexel has James Madison, Northeastern and William & Mary left on their schedule, so they can spoil some teams' hopes down the stretch.

7. Delaware Blue Hens (7-18, 6-8, LW- 8):

The Blue Hens just downed Northeastern and William & Mary, both on the road, in the stretch of three games. This was the same Delaware team that had precisely one win entering CAA play. If that doesn't tell you that the CAA tournament could be fun, than nothing will. Unfortunately for Delaware, they are sitting in the seventh seed, which is the first tournament spot out of a BYE past Friday's first round and into Saturday's quarterfinals.

8. Towson Tigers (12-15, 5-9, LW- 7):

The Tigers got a late road win over Charleston this past weekend, but that's about where the good news stops for them. Towson will face Hofstra, UNCW and William & Mary in the next week before ending the regular season against Delaware. It may not make that much of a difference, since anyone could win the Friday night matchups in the tournament's first round.

9. Charleston Cougars (7-20, 2-12, LW- 10):

Generously giving Charleston the ninth spot in the rankings due to their home win over William & Mary and the fact that Elon is riding a six-game slide. The Cougars script usually has them competitive very late in ballgames, until they run out of firepower and succumb to another loss. This year marks the first time in Charleston's program history that the team has lost 20 games in a season.

10. Elon Phoenix (11-16, 3-11, LW- 9):

The Phoenix are sliding on a six-game losing streak, and it has been by big margins. The best news is that they face Charleston next for a showdown between the CAA's bottom teams. With a loss to the Cougars, Elon may very well cement themselves as the 10th seed in the tournament.