Keep On Keeping On

There’s a sparsely recognized fact that hasn’t received enough acknowledgment outside of our Twitter community. The coaches, athletic departments, and fans surely see it, and while some may be confused about which conference these schools represent, our 10 teams are playing well enough to make it known.

The CAA is playing some damn good basketball.

Our league is 12-0 in the past five days, and is currently slotted as the 12th best conference on KenPom. That’s big time progress for a conference that hasn’t finished better than 17th in any of the last three years.

We keep piling wins, and the only thing surprising about it is just how decisive some of these victories have been. While big media hot shots seem shocked, there isn’t anything outrageous about seeing a talented, well-coached team like William & Mary outplay an assemblage of former AAU All Stars.

Although those squads might have loftier preseason expectations, it all comes down to on-court performance. And our guys are executing in high visibility spots.

I’ve seen continuous admiration for Ben Simmons, but not enough acclaim for the College of Charleston team that forced him into seven turnovers and 26.6% shooting on 15 shots on Monday night.

Miami was the nation’s early-season darling, but Jim Larrañaga’s old guys couldn’t even handle Northeastern’s elder statesmen David Walker and Quincy Ford (and of course, Bill Coen) in Coral Gables.

Hofstra has done plenty to validate its standing as the preseason conference favorite. This deep group bested Florida State on a neutral floor, and just won back-to-back road games against teams from the oft-praised A10. Joe Mihalich’s bunch has had six players score in double figures in two different games this season. That is absolutely absurd.

And while not everyone has grabbed a P5 win, almost everyone’s chipped in one way or another.

JMU has been up and down, but showed its potential when it went down 64 East and (sans Yohanny Dalembert) roughhoused a buzzy Richmond team on opening night.

After losing Chivarsky Corbett to a season-ending ACL tear, Delaware has shown resolve by downing Bradley and South Florida with ease. Marvin King-Davis has continued to play at an All-CAA level, and Champ Mosley has made a seamless transition into the starting five.

Towson and George Mason had contrasting outings two weeks ago in the Charleston Classic, but anyone who watched them play Wednesday would’ve thought the Tigers were the ones who beat Ole Miss and Oklahoma State en route to a championship appearance. Towson has won four in a row, and has an upcoming schedule with plenty of plum matchups.

Elon just registered back-to-back wins for the first time this season, and Monday night’s came in rather amazing fashion.

The league has put in great work over the season’s first three weeks, but the next four are every bit as important, and doubly as challenging with the uneven schedules caused by exams.

Hofstra sandwiches its toughest remaining nonconference roadies around Winter Break, and we’re hoping the Pride can maintain focus. Northeastern’s amped about hosting Michigan State in two weeks, and it should be. But the Huskies have three stiff tests between now and then. William & Mary will face possibly the sternest test any team in the CAA has faced this season when it takes the court at UVA today.

While it’s hard to say what this’ll all mean in March, we can hazard a guess that the CAA won’t have a team seeded 14th in the NCAA Tournament for a third consecutive year.

It’s way too early to entertain the notion that this could be a multi-bid league, and the truth is that this league is probably still too balanced to have a team go 17-1 or 16-2 in conference play and garner serious at-large attention.

It’s still early in the season, but our 10 teams have proven one thing.

We are the CAA, and we play damn good basketball.

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