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2015-16 CAA Season Preview: JMU, Hofstra to Battle for Top Spot

It should be another crowded year in the CAA standings, who has the best chance to climb to the top?

Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Since the titans of the CAA have left over the past five years or so there hasn't really been a team that has dominated the conference. Every year the CAA seems like a toss up with the transfer market making a lot of teams strong but not necessarily setting things up for sustained success. This year will be no different as the conference heads to Baltimore in March, expect another parity filled year in a classic mid-major conference.

MMM Predicted Order of Finish

1. James Madison Dukes
2. Hofstra Pride
3. William & Mary Tribe
4. UNC Wilmington Seahawks
5. Northeastern Huskies
6. Delaware Blue Hens
7. Towson Tigers
8. Charleston Cougars
9. Drexel Dragons
10. Elon Phoenix

The Favorites

James Madison: Matt Brady's success seems to have natural peaks and valleys do to his roster and entering class make up. Brady is once again hitting a peak and the last time we saw this from the Dukes they went to the NCAA Tournament. JMU is the most complete team in the conference with the inside game of Yohanny Dalembert and the outside game of Ron Curry and Winston Grays. A solid non-conference schedule filled with mid-major teams will give us a good early gauge for where the Dukes are at this season.

Hofstra: When you ask anyone about Hofstra one name comes up... Juan'ya Green. Green is the conference's best player after averaging over 17 points, 6 assists, and 4 rebounds a year ago. His presence on the team makes the Pride a contender alone. The scary thing is Green's runningmate, Ameen Tanksley isn't far behind him averaging 16.2 points and 5.5 rebounds last season. While the Pride has the conference's best backcourt there is concern in the post when Joe Mihalich's squad matches up with talented big, like the aforementioned Dalembert.

The Contenders

William & Mary: Yea the door closed a bit last year with the loss of Marcus Thornton, but as long as Tony Shave is at W&M the Tribe will be dangerous. Thornton is a big loss but W&M still returns Omar Prewitt, Terry Tarpey, and Daniel Dixon. Those three did combine for over 36 points per game last year and expect that to continue to go up this season.  W&M is just a solid squad and expect a guy like Greg Malinowski to pick up some of the scoring slack left behind by Thornton this season.

UNC Wilmington: A lot of folks are expecting a big drop off from Kevin Keatts Seahawks after a 12-6 conference mark last year, but I'm not one of them.  I'm not promising the return of the Brett Blizzard era but I think the Seahawks backcourt alone will keep them in contention this season. Craig Ponder showed what he could do last season by averaging nearly 12 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists per game. The guy beside him, Jordon Talley, is going to blossom into one the conferences best point guards this season and eventually reach the mid-major elite before it's all said in done in Wilmington. Throw in Dylan Sherwood and the Seahawks have a decent post option as well.  Don't forget that the 'Hawks were also the CAA's best defensive team a year ago.

Northeastern: Northeastern is fresh off their CAA title and have a similar outlook to William & Mary in replacing legend Scott Eatherton. Much like the Tribe everyone is back but Eatherton which means the Huskies have a punchers chance at being back-to-back champs. David Walker, Quincy Ford, T.J. Williams, and Zach Stahl combined for nearly 42 points per outing last year. The biggest question mark on the Fenway is the depth of this squad.

The Challengers

Delaware: The Blue Hens went into CAA play with a 1-10 mark last year and then went 9-9 in conference play. Monte Ross had a young team that may just be ready to take the next step and build into a CAA title contender. Freshman Kory Holden was the biggest story a year ago in Newark averaging 12.4 points, 5 assists, and 3.1 rebounds. Fellow young gun Cazmon Hayes wasn't far behind in his sophomore campaign posting over 11 points and 3 rebounds. Marvin King-Davis became a legitimate threat in the paint last season averaging 10.8 points and 8.6 rebounds. If he remains a double-double threat for Ross then the Blue Hens will be a dangerous team heading into Baltimore.

Towson: Pat Skerry's revolving door of transfers continues in Baltimore and it's really hard to get a pulse on the Tigers after their 12-20 season a year ago. Four McGlynn has moved on which doesn't help a dreadful shooting team.  Skerry's best hope is that Wake Forest transfer Arnaud William Adala Moto turns into the second coming of the Benimonster.

The Bottom

Charleston: Canyon Barry and Joe Chealey can make a game interesting but the Cougars need to find more help in Earl Grant's second year to rise to the top. Freshman Marquise Pointer is a guy to keep an eye on down by the Battery.

(UPDATE: CofC announced Wednesday that Chealey is out for the season, this makes the Cougars chances even more bleak)

Drexel: The Dragons haven't had a winning season in the weakened CAA since 2011-12 and injuries have to stop being an excuse at some point. Drexel has talent in Tavon Allen, Rodney Williams, and Sammy Mojica, but the pressure on Bruiser Flint may be too much for this team to overcome.

Elon: The Phoenix had a rude awakening in their first season going 6-12 in conference play and saw their best player head to BYU this spring. Luke Eddy and Tanner Samson will have to carry the team if they want to improve upon last year.