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CAA losing in many ways

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Cheers and Jeers,Sports,College,Kevin Dunleavy

As they ran through a high-spirited practice Thursday, the Towson Tigers could consider a major move in their conference. If there is any league ripe for the taking, it's the CAA, in which even a team that went 1-31 last year can think big.

Defending champion Virginia Commonwealth is gone. And so it seems is Old Dominion (1-5), with a shocking RPI of 315. The Monarchs, headed for Conference USA because of their football ambitions, seemingly have checked out of the CAA a season early. Even former doormat Georgia State will join the Sun Belt next year.

It all adds up to a tough transition year for a league just two seasons removed from sending three teams to the NCAA tournament and one (VCU) to the Final Four. Even more unsettling for the teams that remain is the uncertain future. When asked about it, Towson coach Pat Skerry shook his head and closed his eyes.

"Who knows? I guess we've got Charleston coming, which is great," Skerry said. "But I don't know. This thing seems to change day to day."

Teams from the CAA have gone 30-40 so far. Quality wins have been few. Delaware and George Mason have beaten Virginia, but those are the only victories the CAA owns over BCS conference teams. Both, by the way, came when Virginia was missing all three of its point guards.

Sure it's early, but only four teams in the CAA have RPIs better than 150. The CAA's conference RPI is worse than that of the Patriot League. While George Mason (54) has a respectable RPI, next best is Georgia State (88).

After declining an invitation from the Atlantic 10, George Mason responded by beefing up its schedule. The Patriots (5-2) are the only team in the league building a resume that might warrant consideration for an at-large bid.

"I think leagues are important for a lot of reasons," George Mason coach Paul Hewitt said earlier this month. "But in terms of what you can accomplish, leagues aren't as important. Schedule is very important and how you perform when given the opportunity."

One of those opportunities comes Sunday when George Mason faces Maryland in the BB&T Classic. The Patriots need to take advantage. There won't be many opportunities for quality wins once the conference schedule begins.

- Kevin Dunleavy

kdunleavy@washingtonexaminer.com

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