|William & Mary won the league!?!?!|
William & Mary finished 5-1 against the other three co-champions (UNCW, Northeastern, and JMU), but lost twice to Delaware, and fell on the road to both the 8th and last-place teams (Elon and Charleston).
UNCW played the final game of the conference season, needing only to beat 5-12 Elon to clinch the outright league title. The Seahawks lost by 19.
Defending league champion Delaware (nope, not over it yet) went 1-10 in non-conference play, losing to Cal Poly, Army, and Delaware State. The Hens beat William & Mary twice and went 9-9 in conference.
JMU went 0-6 against the other co-champions, and 12-0 against the rest of the league.
First-year league member Elon finished 6-12 in the league. And carries a three-game winning streak into the conference tournament, the longest such current streak in the CAA. Which features wins over co-champs Northeastern and UNCW, and followed a seven-game losing streak.
You'll forgive us, but we won't be making any predictions about the CAA Tournament, which begins this evening in Baltimore, as the 7/10 (Drexel/Charleston) and 8/9 (Elon/Towson) matchups tip. (Though we did finish the season 10-8 ATS on W&M games, despite a two-game hiccup at the end of the year.)
We won't be prognosticating (though if you ask us for a darkhorse tourney winner, we'll give you Hofstra), but we will be offering a bit of a prescription for Tribe fans. We've said all year that W&M has to shoot the ball to win. We've been wrong. You'll hear people say that the Wrens need to rebound, to take care of the basketball. Those people are wrong, generally speaking.
The key to victory for our Wrens is simple. They have to defend.
Allow us to geek out for a minute. As Dragons Speak proprietor Dan Crain pointed out on Twitter yesterday, only once since 2007-8 has the CAA Tournament champion not ranked in the top two in the league in defensive efficiency. W&M is seventh in that stat. But their wins and losses tell a more complete story.
Advanced metrics on this point are crystal clear. W&M's Offensive Rating (ORtg, an estimate of points scored per 100 possession) in its 12 conference wins is a very good 115.65. In the Tribe's six losses, their ORtg only drops to 113.62, a figure that would rank in the top 20 in the nation. W&M's effective field goal percentage (eFG) in wins is 61.1%. It drops only slightly to 55.1% in losses. The Wrens' total rebound percentage is better in victories, but again not a wide margin (50.8% in wins, 45.8% in losses). And counter-intuitively, the Wrens turn the ball over nearly twice as much in wins as they do in defeats (12.05 per game versus 6.5).
It's not rocket surgery this weekend in the Charm City. It's all but certain that the Tribe will run a very efficient offense. If Tony Shaver's team plays focused, even marginally effective defense, W&M has a very good chance to win any game they play.
Roll the balls out, and let's see what happens. Lotta ball left. Stay on target*.
* - We're appropriating some long-ago mojo for a new purpose. It worked once, so why the hell not try again?