Under the Radar Game of the Day: James Madison at William & Mary, 7:00 PM Eastern, Regional TV/free streaming at caa.tv
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Heading into the season, we felt that this season’s race in the Colonial Athletic Association had a chance to be one of the closest and most exciting in the nation. A little over halfway through conference play, and it certainly has not disappointed. Entering play today, Hofstra and UNC-Wilmington are tied for first place at 8-2, with Towson one game behind at 7-3. Tied with Towson in the loss column, each at 6-3, are the two teams battling in today’s UTR Game of the Day, James Madison and William & Mary. Three other teams (Elon, College of Charleston and Northeastern) could all still make some noise before the season is over, as all three are better than .500 overall, even if they have fallen a few games behind the top five teams.
James Madison enters play today at 16-6 overall, and despite being a game and half out of first place, the Dukes have the best KenPom rating (73) and BPI (86) in the CAA. James Madison will be looking to go 5-0 on the road in conference play today, already having picked up wins at Hofstra, Northeastern, Elon and Delaware. If the Dukes had been able to hold serve at home, they would be running away with the conference right now. Unfortunately for them, home losses to College of Charleston, Elon, and UNC-Wilmington last time out set them back. The Dukes have a strong, balanced scoring attack with Ron Curry, Shakir Brown, Jackson Kent and more able to light it up from downtown, while Yohanny Dalembert has a chance to be dominant on the boards (he had a 16 rebound effort at Hofstra earlier this year). If JMU can keep up their road magic in Williamsburg tonight, they certainly have the pieces in place to make a run at the top spot in the conference standings.
William & Mary, as we have chronicled several times, is one of five Division I members that have been in D1 since the start of divisional play in 1948 and never played in the NCAA Tournament (joining Northwestern, Army, St. Francis-Brooklyn and The Citadel). The Tribe certainly have the talent to break that streak this season, though with the parity at the top of the CAA standings, winning the conference tournament and the automatic bid that comes with it will not be easy. William & Mary is currently 14-6 overall, including an RPI of 44, best in the conference and high enough that the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee might give them a look for an at-large bid if they can win the CAA outright (which probably means winning every game until the Colonial tournament). The Tribe also feature a balanced scoring attack, with the likes of Omar Prewitt, Terry Tarpey, Daniel Dixon and more all able to light up the scoreboard on any given night. With 5 of their 8 games after today being against the lower half of the league, the Tribe have a very good chance to make a run at the top spot in the standings — but cannot afford to fall two games behind today. Needless to say, the winner of tonight’s game will have a leg up as we move into the month of February.