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Week 2 CAA Power Rankings

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After A Key Injury, The CAA Championship Is Now Wide Open

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Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE

With the 2012-2013 men’s college basketball season now in full swing, the Colonial Athletic Association has had plenty of exciting moments, season-changing injuries and buzzer-beaters.

There has been quite a lot change in the conference power rankings lately, as well. Many teams have looked pretty different on the court then they did on paper during the preseason, and that’s been the main reason for all the fluctuation.

Drexel hasn’t been what they were hyped to be this season as of late, but they’re still floating towards the top of the league. Delaware has looked as successful as they could have been thus far as well, especially in the NIT Season Tip-Off. The rest of the conference’s rankings look completely different than they did a week ago as well, largely due to Hofstra’s successful weekend.

All this new construction in the power rankings definitely proves that there are most likely around seven or eight teams who could possibly contend for a top-5 spot in the conference standings. In the following slides, we look at how each team fared against their previous opponents and glance at the week ahead.

Jake Fischer is the CAA Correspondent for Rant Sports-NCAA Basketball. Throughout this 2012-2013 men’s basketball season, he will be contributing weekly CAA Power Rankings every Thursday. Make sure to follow Jake on Twitter @fischsportsline.

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No. 11- UNCW Seahawks

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Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE

Overall: 1-3

Last Week: 0-2 (Ohio, Purdue)

This week, the UNCW Seahawks have faced two of their toughest non-conference opponents. They fought hard and battled, but ultimately fell to Ohio 84-47 and to Purdue, 66-40. In both contests, senior forward Keith Rendleman tried his best to carry his team, but received little to no contribution from his supporting cast. If he teammates can’t step up, the Hawks will most likely stay near the bottom of the CAA standings for the remainder of the season.

Next week, UNCW takes on Wofford on Saturday and Hampton on Sunday.

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No. 10- James Madison Dukes

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Rafael Suanes-US PRESSWIRE

Overall: 1-3

Last Week: 1-3 (UCLA, Duquesne, Youngstown State, North Dakota State)

After a long waited season-debut, the James Madison Dukes were spanked by the UCLA Bruins 100-70. Obviously playing a nationally top-ranked team isn’t going to be easy for a mid-major, so this showing wasn’t terrible. Following that opening contest, the Dukes battled in two very competitive games. They dropped an OT game vs. Duquesne 90-88 and then squeaked out a win over Youngstown State 69-68. But, all came unraveled during the team’s 66-44 loss to North Dakota State. Overall, head coach Matt Brady has a team heavily loaded with seniors and freshman. As they’ve already faced plenty of adversity this early into the season, the Dukes should look to use their struggles as of now to build for the future.

Next Week, the Dukes will take on Miami (OH) on Saturday and George Wasington on Wednesday.

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No. 9- Old Dominion Monarchs

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Peter Casey-US PRESSWIRE

Overall: 1-4

Last Week: 0-2 (Virginia Military, Cleveland State)

During the week, Old Dominion Monarchs really hit a stumbling block in trying to get this season off the ground. They fell to Cleveland State 67-55 and narrowly lost to Virginia Military 76-71. Against Cleveland State, the monarchs actually held an 9 point lead, but couldn’t establish a consistent enough offense to maintain a lead. Offense wasn’t at a total loss against VMI, with Dimitri Batten scoring 21 points, and rebounding is still a team strength for ODU. But, the Monarchs really need to improve their crunch-time defense if they want to win close ball games. In their last season in the CAA, 1-4 is probably not how Blaine Taylor and company wanted to kick things off.

Next week, Old dominion faces a tough, tough mid-major opponent in Murray State on Saturday.

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No. 8- Towson Tigers

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Denny Medley-US PRESSWIRE

Overall 3-2

Last Week: 3-1 (Radford, Eastern Kentucky, Kennesaw, Cincinnati Christian)

After dropping their opening season contest, the Towson Tigers really came into their own last week. In the week alone, they’ve registered two more victories than they had all of last season. The beat up Radford 75-67, narrowly lost to Eastern Kentucky 71-69 in overtime, were victorious over Kennesaw State 69-63 and then slammed Cincinnati Christian 79-40. While it did come against a National Christian College Athletic Association opponent, the Tigers’ romp over the CCU Eagles is a very positive sign for Towson. Now an up-and-coming team in the CAA, the Tigers need to trust their abilities to compete against anyone they matchup against. Not playing down to the level of their opponent and winning by almost 40 points is a very encouraging sign for head coach Pat Skerry. Transfer Jerelle Benimon’s 16.2 points and 9.8 rebounds per game are also something to celebrate.

Next week, the Tigers will take on in-state rival, Loyala (MD) on Monday.

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No. 7- Hofstra Pride

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Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

Overall 3-3

Last Week: 3-1 (South Dakota St, DC, Marshall, Manhattan)

Using a triumphant weekend at the 2K Sports Classic, the Hofstra Pride have jumped back to the middle of the CAA conference standings and power rankings. Not only were the Pride’s victories something to add to the win column, but Hofstra truly won their weekend games in momentum-building fashion. They were able to use key play down the stretch from Shaquille Stokes to close out South Dakota State 66-63, then the Pride handily beat DC 74-59 and closed the Classic with a 103-100 double-overtime thriller victory over Marshall. The team’s 11-point loss to Manhattan on Wednesday shouldn’t be too concerning as it was most likely a result of the team’s high from their triumphant overtime win.

Next week, Hofstra takes on George Washington on Saturday.

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No. 6- Georgia State Panthers

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Mark Dolejs

Overall 3-2

Last Week: 3-0 (Monmouth, Tennessee State, South Alabama)

The Georgia State Panthers opened up their season against two tough high-major opponents in Duke and BYU, and looked to be somewhat dejected at 0-2. But now, after having an undefeated Week 2, the Panthers look like a new team with a newfound identity. After beating a solid Monmouth club 62-49, Tennessee State 59-57 and South Alabama 75-73, GSU is once again building towards becoming a contender in the CAA under head coach Ron Hunter. Led by a solid back court trio of Devonta White, R.J. Hunter and Manny Atkins, who collectively average 41.4 points per game, Georgia State has forged a team that is capable of winning many games.

Next week they play Eastern Carolina on Monday.

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No. 5 William & Mary Tribe

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Dak Dillion-US PRESSWIRE

Overall: 3-1

Last Week: 1-1 (High Point, Miami (OH))

Starting the season 3-0, including their 83-61 victory over High Point this week, the William & Mary Tribe dropped a tough 13-point loss to Miami (OH) 72-59. Now, the Tribe will really be tested next week, when they face two high-major opponents. Thus far, the W&M have really performed well and cohesively, led by Marcus Thronton, Tim Rusthoven and Brandon Britt. For now, they deserve this top-5 ranking, but it could be instantly taken from them just as fast as they earned it.

Next week, the Tribe will play two tough road games at Wake Forest and at Richmond.

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No. 4- Drexel Dragons

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Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

Overall: 1-2

Last Week: 1-1 (Illinois State, Penn)

Earning their first victory of the young season is definitely something the Drexel Dragons truly needed, but it came at a very high cost. Late in their win over Penn, senior guard Chris Fouch came down with a rough ankle injury that will require season-ending surgery. Pairing that with their overtime loss to Illinois State, the Dragons are now in the four-slot in the conference, and unfortunately for them, it’s largely due to last season’s success more than this season’s.

Next week, the Dragons take on Saint Mary’s on Thursday night and Xavier on Friday.

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No. 3- George Mason Patriots

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Rafael Suanes-US PRESSWIRE

Overall: 3-2

Last Week: 2-1 (Mercer, New Mexico, Quinnipiac)

The George Mason Patriots have hit a little stride as of late, coming of a 2-1 week that could’ve easily been 3-0. With triumphant wins over Mercer and Quinnipiac, Mason added a few wins to their resume, but during the 70-69 loss to New Mexico, the Patriots gained the most. Mason had Sherrod Wright step-up and lead the team in scoring, something they desperately need, against the Lobos, but they also were faced with adversity down the stretch. Even though they failed, they now have a building block that head coach Paul Hewitt can use to teach his team and improve on.

Next week, the Patriots will take on Boston at home on Saturday and travel to Rhode Island on Wednesday.

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No. 2- Northeastern Huskies

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Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE

Overall: 3-1

Last Week: 1-1 (Vermont, UC Riverside)

This week, the Northeastern Huskies dropped a tough home 66-55 loss to Vermont. During the defeat, they struggled mightily offensively, as only Joel Smith shot the ball extremely well. The senior scored 25 points on 9-17 shooting, including 5-9 from three-point land. While they traveled cross-country to Alaska, the Huskies seemingly rediscovered their offensive game before their matchup against UC Riverside. In that game, the offense was far more well balanced, having five players scoring 8 points or higher.

Next Week, the Huskies take on Belmont on Friday and Maine on Wednesday.

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No. 1- Delaware Blue Hens

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Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

Overall: 2-2

Last Week: 0-1 (Kansas State)

Even though the Delaware Blue Hens’ somewhat-magical run through the NIT Season Tip-Off has come to an end, their ability to compete against a tough high-major on national television is something to hang their hat on. It was a hard fought battle, but UDel ultimately lost to Kansas State in the tournament’s semifinals 66-63. Devon Saddler’s 32 points on 12-22 shooting and Jamelle Hagins’ 12 points and 15 rebounds are also very encouraging signs for head coach Monte Ross. The Blue Hens should remain around the top of the conference for the entire year.

Next week, Delaware faces more tough opponents when they take on Pittsburgh, Temple and Lafayette.