CAA Top of the Ladder

This is a weekly feature appearing on Tuesdays that takes a closer look at recent storylines for each of the teams near the top of the CAA standings.

Northeastern University:

1st place, W-L: 11-7 (6-0); Last Week: 2-0

Hashtags: #1stplace #undefeated #Quincywatch

The Huskies continued their red-hot start to open conference play with two more big wins this week. Northeastern has been finding different ways to win games that in previous seasons would have gone the other way. Coming off his 24 point performance against Hofstra on Wednesday, sophomore Quincy Ford is quietly (or as quietly as possible, after this play appeared on SportsCenter’s Top 10) developing into the player the Huskies have always thought he could be. He added 17 points to support senior Joel Smith’s 18 as Northeastern showed Delaware who was top dog in the CAA with a 74-70 win down in Newark. The Huskies let a 17-point advantage get closed down to a four-point lead but went on a late run to seal the win.

The win over Hofstra was Ford’s coming out party, as he shot 11-17 from the field with a 3-pointer. He also filled up his stat sheet by adding two offensive rebounds, two assists and two steals. If Ford is able to play with this kind of consistency for the rest of the regular season, the rest of the CAA needs to be put on notice; a three-headed monster of Ford, Smith and fellow senior Jon Lee could potentially carry this squad to a CAA regular season title and beyond.

This week Northeastern is at home and will play William &  Mary (1-5) on Wednesday and George Mason (4-2) on Sunday.

Towson University:

2nd place, W-L: 10-10 (5-2); Last Week: 2-1

Hashtags: #turnaround #JerrelleBenimon #thankyougeorgetown #Tigerpride

The Tigers may be coming back to earth as they dropped a close contest against Georgia State 71-69 Monday night with Jerrelle Benimon leading the way with 18 points in 37 minutes. Towson fans can hang their collective hats on the fact that Towson has increased its win total tenfold from a disastrous 1-31 campaign last season. They can also take pride that behind the play of Benimon, the Tigers are in position to make a charge at the regular-season title. After losing to Northeastern last week, the Tigers rebounded for a quality win against Delaware on Wednesday and then blew out James Madison on Saturday, 73-47.

Benimon paced Towson and scored a game-high 19 points on 8-12 shooting as the Tigers shocked Delaware 66-63 making key plays down the stretch. Towson carried this momentum into its matchup with JMU as Benimon, Jerome Hairston and Bilal Dixon all scored a game-high 13 points, while the Tigers only allowed one Duke to score in double figures in a suffocating defensive effort.

Towson gets back at it against George Mason (4-2) on Wednesday. The Tigers also have a date in Williamsburg, Va.  to take on William and Mary (1-5) on Saturday.

George Mason University:

3rd place, W-L: 11-7 (4-2); Last Week: 2-0

Hashtags: #heavyweight #tourneypedigree  #whathaveyoudoneformelately

Entering this week the Patriots enter play two games back of the conference-leading Huskies. Last week George Mason kept pace by beating Hofstra, 57-46, on Saturday behind leading scorer Sherrod Wright and his 21 points. This contest came on the heals of the Patriots’ 68-57 win over lowly James Madison last Tuesday.

This week the Patriots have a chance to gain ground as they play the two teams they are looking up at with Towson (5-1) on Tuesday and a Sunday showdown at Northeastern (7-0) on NBC Sports Network.

University of Delaware:

4th place, W-L: 8-10 (3-2); Last Week: 0-2

Hashtags: #1stinscoring #BIGlosses #nomoremrnicehen #saddle’rup

Delaware, picked by many to lead the conference, missed an opportunity to gain early control of the CAA with two home losses coming at the hands of Towson and Northeastern, on Wednesday and Saturday, respectively. Delaware allowed the Tigers to shoot 48% from the floor in a 69-66 loss, and followed up with another missed chance against the Huskies. Northeastern had run up a 17-point second-half lead that the Blue Hens cut to just four, but could not bridge the gap and fell 74-70.

This week the Blue Hens have an easy stretch with just one game on Wednesday against James Madison (3-3).

Georgia State:

5th place, W-L: 9-11 (3-3); Last Week: 3-0

Hashtags:  #goodweek #aberration? #R #J #nuffsaid

The Panthers picked up a big statement win in Maryland as they upended second-place Towson 71-69 Monday night. Georgia State was lead by R.J. Hunter and his game-high 27 points. Before this game the Panthers had been taking advantage of CAA bottom-feeders William and Mary and Old Dominion for a couple of cupcake victories this week to narrowly jump ahead of James Madison for the last spot on the ladder.

Georgia State won big at home against the Tribe on Wednesday, 74-58, before taking the show up to Norfolk, Va. to dispatch ODU, 69-54. The Panthers will return home for a date with UNCW (2-3) on Wednesday before finishing the week in Philadelphia, Pa. for a match-up with Drexel (2-3).

– Alex LaCasse (@Al3x_Lacasse)