The CAA Deserves More Than One Bid

    
February 22nd, 2012
According to the most recent bracketology projections, the Colonial Athletic Association is deserving of just one NCAA Tournament bid.

 

Hasn’t the CAA proven that it deserves the benefit of the doubt from the selection committee?

 

 

 

According to the most recent RPI, the Colonial is the 15th-best conference in the country.

 

Shouldn’t we know better by now?

 

In the past six years, two different CAA teams have made runs to the Final 4 as 11 seeds: George Mason in 2006, and of course, Virginia Commonwealth a year ago.

 

Many argued that VCU didn’t belong last year before its magical run to Houston. The Rams finished fourth in the Colonial before going on a run that included double-digit wins over USC, Georgetown, No. 13 Purdue and No. 1 Kansas.

 

After winning the CAA regular-season title, George Mason also won its first-round tourney game a year ago, beating Villanova. And Old Dominion fell to Butler on Matt Howard’s tip-in at the buzzer in the NCAA opening round. Of course, things could have played out differently, but Howard’s tip-in may have been the only thing standing between an all-Colonial national semifinal.

 

So why isn’t the CAA getting any love?

 

Drexel and GMU are currently on top of the league standings at 14-2. Drexel has won 15 in a row and 21 of its last 22. The Patriots have won five straight, 11 of 12 and 16 of their last 18. After what the CAA has done over the past half-decade, how can either of these teams be kept out of the tournament?

 

VCU is a game back of the Dragons and Patriots. The Rams have won 12 of their last 13 games with the only loss coming when George Mason’s Sherrod Wright hit 3-pointer at the buzzer on Feb. 14. This is a team that deserves to play in the NIT?

 

The argument that is made is that all three teams had some bad losses in the pre-conference season. But 23-6 VCU’s worst-non conference losses were neutral-court defeats at the hands of Georgia Tech and Seton Hall. George Mason fell to Florida International and Florida Atlantic, but both were in mid-November when the Patriots were still in their reloading phase.

 

Drexel’s bad losses – to Norfolk State (which is currently second in the MEAC) and CAA-rival Delaware – came when Chris Fouch was still injured.

 

The “bad loss” argument could be a substantial one in most seasons, but let’s take a look at some of the projected at-large teams that are considered in the tournament or on the bubble.

 

Central Florida has a loss to 16-13 Louisiana-Lafayette. Mississippi State was just beaten by 12-14 Georgia at home during a 4-game losing streak that also includes a loss to 16-10 LSU. Colorado State suffered back-to-back losses to TCU and Boise State.

 

South Florida lost to Old Dominion, which is in fourth place in the CAA, and VCU, plus Penn State, and Auburn. Minnesota’s resume includes losses to Dayton and Iowa. And Xavier has a 42-point loss to Oral Roberts, an overtime loss to Hawaii and a 10-point loss to LaSalle on its resume. BYU was beaten by Loyola Marymount by 14 points at home.

 

If tournament bids are based upon bad losses, there would only be a handful of teams left to field. If it is based on success late in the season, the Colonial deserves at least two bids.

 

What would you rather see in the tournament, Mississippi State or Seton Hall getting pounded in the first or second round? Or would you rather see George Mason, VCU and Drexel get a shot at making magic again?

 

Hasn’t the Colonial earned the benefit of the doubt?