1. Northeastern University
2013-14 season: 11-21 (7-9)
Simply put, Bill Coen’s Huskies squad is the most well-rounded team in the conference. The Huskies have talent at every position in the starting lineup, and in last season’s Defensive Player of the Year in forward Scott Eatherton, they also have one of the best individual players in the Colonial Athletic Association. Expect Eatherton, fellow senior forward Reggie Spencer, and junior guards David Walker and Quincy Ford to light the Colonial up early and often with a varied, multi-faceted offensive attack.
2. The College of William & Mary
2013-14 season: 20-12 (10-6)
When you have the best player in the conference, expectations are bound to be high. Thus is the case with the William & Mary Tribe, who were mere inches from dancing this past March. Guard Marcus Thornton, possibly the greatest player in program history, will be expected to shoulder the offensive load this season and turn opposing defenses inside out with his ferocious attacking mentality and deadly range. The only challenge for the Tribe this year will be finding a suitable replacement in the paint for graduated forward Tim Rusthoven.
3. Hofstra University
2013-14 season : 10-23 (5-11)
The Pride are the most intriguing team in the conference, if only because their skill level is so unquantifiable before the season begins. In the second year of the Joe Mihalich era, the rebuild in Hempstead continues as transfers will decide the Hofstra’s fate this season. Niagara University transfers Juan’ya Green and Ameen Tanksley bring high-level talent to a program in desperate need, and the addition of former Southern Methodist University Mustang Brian Bernardi, a deadly shooter from deep, rounds out what should be a highly-skilled Pride offense. It all comes down to how the squad gels.
4. College of Charleston
2013-14 season: 14-18 (6-10)
The Cougars’ first season in the CAA was a slight disappointment, if only because the cream of the conference out-paced the squad. But a culture shift, which included the ousting of head coach Doug Wojcik because of alleged verbal abuse, could bring about better results down south this year. With a new head coach in Earl Grant and a bevy of returning talent, including Adjehi Baru and star-on-the-rise Canyon Barry, the Cougars have a good chance to do damage against good teams come conference tournament time.
5. Drexel University
2013-14 season: 16-14 (8-8)
Read the rest of the paper for a preview of them, silly!
6. James Madison University
2013-14 season: 11-20 (6-10)
The only reason the Dukes would be ranked higher than sixth is guard Andre Nation. The only reason the Dukes fall to sixth here is also Andre Nation. The outstandingly talented, mind-numbingly troubled scorer is suspended for the first month of the season, his second suspension in as many years. With Nation, Ron Curry and sophomore forward Tom Vodanovich (also suspended) playing cohesive basketball, the Dukes can pose a threat on any given night. The question bigger than sufficient talent is whether Nation will be able to stay out of trouble.
7. University of Delaware
2013-14 season: 25-9 (14-2)
For the first time in a few years, when the Drexel home crowd chants, “Delaware sucks!” it might have a point. Well, not sucks; the Blue Hens won’t suck this year, but they certainly won’t be the team that played Tom Izzo’s Michigan State squad close in the NCAA Tournament last season. Gone are Devon Saddler, Davon Usher and Jarvis Threatt, the three-headed scoring triad that dominated the Colonial last season. It’s now up to senior guard Kyle Anderson to lead the Delaware offense, which is all you need to know about the team’s prospects this season.
8. University of North Carolina Wilmington
2013-14 season : 9-23 (3-13)
It’s a sea change down in North Carolina, something the Seahawks program needed badly. Buzz Peterson’s ways had grown far too stale to keep him around for another year, so UNC-W brought in Louisville assistant coach Kevin Keatts as his replacement and the face of the program’s future. Keatts brings with him a fast-paced style and an eye towards the future, but for now, the Seahawks are still mired near the bottom of the conference due to a general lack of star power. Guard Addison Spruill is one eye to keep an eye on; he lit Drexel up during his visit to the DAC last season.
9. Towson University
2013-14 season : 23-10 (13-3)
When you lose the best player in the conference of the last two seasons, you’re going to fall. In Towson’s case, not only did Player of the Year Jerrelle Benison leave, but Rafriel Guthrie and Marcus Damas left as well. The Tigers lost their three best players, and this time Pat Skerry didn’t have another (Old) Big East transfer up his sleeve to save the team from irrelevancy. The rebuilding efforts haven’t gone for naught; the program is light-years ahead of where it was two years ago. But this season is going to be a downer in Maryland.
10. Elon University
2013-14 season: 18-14 (11-5)
The newest member of the CAA isn’t going to have the warmest welcome to the conference. The Southern Conference expat Phoenix are going to have a rough go their first time around the CAA carousel: they graduated four 1,000-point scorers last season in Lucas Troutman, Sebastian Koch, Ryley Beaumont and Jack Isenbarger, and don’t yet have the artillery to reload and attack again this season. It’s going to be a rebuilding season for Elon, and the Colonial isn’t going to take pity.