UNC Wilmington's Chris Flemmings, a former walk-on, is averaging 15.7 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. (Photo courtesy UNCW Athletics)

MARK MADNESS | Mark Adams previews the CAA Tournament

It's tournament time!

With all eyes on the conference tournaments starting this week, here's a look at top contenders for the CAA's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament:

Favorite

UNC WILMINGTON

  • Key question: Can UNCW finish what it started with pressure defense and attacking offense?
  • Key players: Four double-figure scorers are led by C.J. Bryce (17.5 points per game) and former walk-on Chris Flemmings (15.7 ppg).
  • Record: 26-5, 15-3 CAA (No. 1 seed).
  • CAA tournament opener: Saturday vs. Friday's vs. Hofstra-Delaware winner.
  • NCAA leaders: Devontae Cacok .787 field-goal percentage (No. 1) 3.58 offensive rebounds per game (No. 14); Denzel Ingram 3.2 assist/turnover ratio (No. 12); UNCW 4.5 turnover margin (No. 6), 1.5 assist/turnover ratio (No. 7), 10.5 turnovers per game (No. 11) and 84.6 points per game (T12).
  • CAA ranks: No. 1 in scoring offense (84.6), scoring margin (10.3), 3-pointers per game (9.5), steals per game (6.9), turnover margin (4.4), assist/turnover ratio (1.5); No. 2 in field-goal percentage (.477) and assists per game (16).

Contenders

COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON

  • Key question: Can the Cougars' stingy defense bring a CAA championship to Charleston?
  • Key players: Jarrell Brantley is one of the CAA's top rebounders (8.3). Brantley (14.1 points per game) and Joe Chealey (16.9 ppg) also can score.
  • Record: 23-8, 14-4 CAA (No. 2 seed).
  • CAA tournament opener: Saturday vs. Friday's Drexel-James Madison winner.
  • NCAA leaders: Charleston 10.3 turnovers per game (No. 7) and .303 3-point percentage defense (No. 12).
  • CAA ranks: No. 1 in scoring defense (62.6), field-goal percentage defense (.409) and 3-point percentage defense (.303 ); No. 2 in scoring margin (6.0) and turnover margin (2.35).

TOWSON

  • Key questions: Will anyone slow down the red-hot Tigers? Can Towson overcome the loss of senior John Davis?
  • Key players: Davis was injured in a drive-by shooting last month. But the Tigers still have talent, led by William Adala Moto (12.8 points and 6.6 rebounds per game) and Mike Morsel (13.8 ppg).
  • Record: 19-12, 11-7 CAA (No. 3 seed).
  • CAA tournament opener: Saturday vs. No. 6 seed Northeastern.
  • NCAA leaders: Towson 7.9 rebound margin (No. 8).
  • CAA ranks: No. 1 in rebound margin (7.9); No. 2 in field-goal percentage defense (.421) and steals per game (6.8).

Darkhorses

WILLIAM & MARY

  • Key question: Can anyone defend the Tribe's efficient spread offense?
  • Key players: Daniel Dixon and Omar Prewitt are two of the top 10 scorers averaging over 15.0 ppg and both haul in 5.0 rpg. The top four scorers all shoot over 46% from the floor and as a team the Tribe shoots over 38% from distance.
  • Record: 16-13, 10-8 CAA (No. 4 seed).
  • CAA tournament opener: Saturday vs. No. 5 seed Elon.
  • NCAA leaders: William & Mary 17.7 assists per game (No. 7) and .491 field-goal percentage (No. 12).
  • CAA ranks: No. 1 in field-goal percentage (.493), 3-point percentage (.386), assists per game (17.8) and blocks per game (5.0); No. 2 in scoring offense (81.4)and assist/turnover ratio (1.39).

ELON

  • Key question: Can Elon’s balanced attack and solid defense carry them to the NCAA Tournament?
  • Key players: Steven Santa Ana and Dainan Swoope are proven 3-point shooters, both hitting nearly two per game. Tyler Seibring (14.4 points per game) and Brian Dawkins (12.5 ppg) are top-21 scorers in the CAA.
  • Record: 18-13, 10-8 CAA (No. 5 seed).
  • CAA tournament opener: Saturday vs. No. 4 seed William & Mary.
  • CAA ranks: No. 2 in 3-point percentage defense (.319) and 3-pointers per game (9.4).

NORTHEASTERN

  • Key question: Can the Huskies' offense, led by T.J. Williams, get hot at the right time? If so, this is a dangerous team!
  • Key players: Williams is the CAA's top scorer(21.6 ppg) and Alex Murphy and Devon Begley are 3-point threats (both over 37%).
  • Record: 15-15, 8-10 CAA (No. 6 seed).
  • League tournament opener: Saturday vs. No. 3 seed Towson.
  • Wins vs. Power 5 & Big East: Beat Michigan State, 81-73.
  • NCAA leaders: T.J. Williams 38.1 minutes per game (No. 2) and 21.6 points per game (No. 11).
  • CAA ranks: No. 2 in 3-point percentage (.373) and blocks per game (3.57).

Other national leaders

  • Individual: Rokas Gustys, Hofstra — 12.2 rebounds per game (No. 4), 8.3 defensive rebounds per game (No. 6) and 3.9 offensive rebounds per game (No. 6).

Tournament schedule

FRIDAY

  • No. 8 Hofstra vs. No. 9 Delaware, 6 p.m. ET
  • No. 7 James Madison vs. No. 10 Drexel, 8:30 p.m. ET

SATURDAY

  • No. 1 UNCW vs. Hofstra-Delaware winner, noon ET
  • No. 4 William & Mary vs. No. 5 Elon, 2:30 p.m. ET
  • No. 2 College of Charleston vs. JMU-Drexel winner, 6 p.m. ET
  • No. 3 Towson vs. No. 6 Northeastern, 8:30 p.m. ET

SUNDAY

  • Semifinals: 2 p.m. ET and 4:30 p.m. ET

MONDAY

  • Championship: 7 p.m. ET

Projected automatic bid

UNCW


Mark Adams is ASN's lead basketball analyst. Follow him on Twitter at @EnthusiAdams.

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