Matt Matheny

Report: Elon to officially join Colonial Athletic Association Thursday

2 Comments

With the loss of four institutions the Colonial Athletic Association has some work to do on the realignment front. Apparently the league has found a new member, as it was reported by the Wilmington Star-News that Elon will officially join the CAA on Thursday.

Elon has announced a press conference for 2:00 p.m. EST Thursday afternoon, but has not given any clues as to what the subject matter will be. It is expected that Elon will join the CAA in 2014.

Elon has been a member of the Southern Conference since 2003, and the Phoenix are coming off of their first SoCon North Division title since the 2005-06 season under head coach Matt Matheny.

Elon finished the 2012-13 season with a record of 21 wins and 12 losses, going 13-5 in SoCon play and losing at Canisius in the first round of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament. That game represented Elon’s first postseason appearance as a Division I member.

Elon joins the College of Charleston as schools leaving the SoCon for the CAA, and perennial SoCon power Davidson is leaving the league to join the Atlantic 10.

The question in regards to the CAA: is the league done adding schools? There may be more news to come in the near future as the conference forms a new identity with schools such as VCU and George Mason (both have moved to the A-10) having moved on.

Albany is also considering an invitation from the CAA, but a university spokesman said they are still committed to the America East “at this time.” Their addition would give the CAA 11 members, six in a Baltimore – Boston corridor and five in the Carolinas and Virginia. Ideally, the conference would add one more southern member, creating two divisions for men’s basketball and a 16-team conference schedule. For example, under that scenario, UNCW would play Elon, College of Charleston, James Madison, William & Mary and the TBA Southern School home-and-home, and play the other six teams once, meaning only three trips to the North in a given season.

As for the SoCon, losing Elon is the latest hit for a league that was already in search of options to replace juggernauts Davidson and the College of Charleston. Appalachian State and Georgia Southern are leaving the conference to join the Sun Belt Conference in 2014, with their football programs moving up to the FBS level serving as the catalyst for that decision.

While the power conference realignment dominoes may finally be settled for the time being, some mid-major conferences have plenty of work to attend to in the coming months.

Raphielle can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

No. 14 West Virginia takes care of No. 15 Baylor

West Virginia forward Devin Williams (41) dunks the ball during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Baylor, Saturday, Feb, 6, 2016, in Morgantown, W.Va. (AP Photo/Raymond Thompson)
AP Photo/Raymond Thompson
Leave a comment

Not exactly noted for their ability to knock down shots from the perimeter, No. 14 West Virginia grabbed sole possession of first place in the Big 12 thanks in part to their perimeter shooting. The Mountaineers shot 7-for-14 from three and 49.1 percent from the field in a 80-69 win over No. 15 Baylor that wasn’t as close as the final margin would lead one to believe.

Bob Huggins’ team led by as much as 19 in the second half, and the way in which they did it is what makes the win so impressive. “Press Virginia” yielded just ten Baylor turnovers, but that low number didn’t matter much thanks to West Virginia’s execution offensively.

They found quality looks against Baylor’s 1-1-3 zone in the first half and made them at a good clip, forcing Scott Drew to switch to man-to-man. That change didn’t do much to slow down West Virginia either, as Daxter Miles Jr. scored 20 points and sixth man Jaysean Paige added 17 off the bench. And with Devin Williams chipping in with 16 points and seven boards in the post, outplaying Baylor’s Rico Gathers Sr. (five points, seven rebounds), West Virginia grabbed control of the game in the first half and did not relinquish it.

The usual formula for West Virginia offensively is to attack the offensive glass, as their offensive rebounding percentage (43 percent) is tops in the country. “Their best offense is a missed shot” is a familiar refrain heard when people discuss the Mountaineers, who entered the game shooting just over 30 percent from three.

They didn’t need to lean on those second chances as heavily as they normally do Saturday night, not only because of the improved accuracy but also the improved work in finding shots. The ball moved against the Baylor defense and so did the players, resulting in an offensive attack that proved tougher for the visiting Bears to stop that one would expect given the statistics entering the game.

West Virginia was already established as a contender in the Big 12, but thanks to their win Saturday night the Mountaineers are the current pace setters. With a showdown at No. 7 Kansas set for Tuesday night, this was a big win for Bob Huggins’ team to get. And with it coming in spite of a low turnover (forced) count, this should only help West Virginia in the confidence department moving forward.

No. 22 Indiana falls at Penn State

Penn State's Shep Garner (33) moves towards the basket during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Indiana in State College, Pa., Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Ralph Wilson)
(AP Photo/Ralph Wilson)
Leave a comment

Brendan Taylor scored 24 points to lead Penn State to a 68-63 upset of No. 22 Indiana on Saturday night.

The Nittany Lions were 2-8 in Big Ten play entering the weekend. Indiana? They were 9-1 and tied for first in the conference. It’s the second loss in four games for the Hoosiers following a 7-0 start to Big Ten play, a fact made all the more concerning by the fact that their league schedule is finally about to get difficult.

The Hoosiers play No. 5 Iowa at home and No. 10 Michigan State in East Lansing next week. The following week they get No. 18 Purdue at home. In the final week of the regular season, Indiana squares off with No. 5 Iowa on the road and close the regular season with a visit from No. 4 Maryland.

That’s a lot of good teams that the Hoosiers to close out the year.

The question has been asked since Indiana’s hot start to league play: Are they for real? Did the Hoosiers really somehow turn things around defensively, or was that winning streak simply a by-product of their schedule?

The truth is that it was probably a combination of both. Calling them a fraud would be unjust — if you watched those games, there wasn’t much fluky about them; Indiana earned the Ws — but it does seem fair to say this is something of a regression to the mean.

They were going to slip up eventually.

And it will totally be forgotten if the Hoosiers can find a way to close the regular season with a winning record in their final seven games.