January 5, 2009 11:41 am ET by Kyle Whelliston
Hofstra at Northeastern (Colonial)
Matthews Arena - Boston, MA
7:00 PM EST
During George Mason's Final Four run, when head coach Jim Larranaga said that the initials "CAA" stood for "Connecticut Assassins Association," he wasn't kidding. The Colonial earned two double-bid years, as well as national postseason glory, by establishing a reputation as a band of giant-killers. In both 2006 and 2007, the league scored 11 wins over teams from conferences north of the Red Line. This year, with scheduled nonconference play finished, there are just five, and none have resonated on a national level. Needless to say, the CAA is looking at sending a single representative for the second straight year.
Only one team has multiple road wins against the top eight conferences, and that's Northeastern (7-5, 2-0). A thrilling win at Providence and defensive shutdown at Indiana probably won't look as good as they did at the time, once those two victims take heavy losses in their own leagues, but both were major accomplishments for a program that's struggled since its rise from the America East to the CAA four summers ago. The Huskies have taken two straight 9-9 league records and won just 12 road games in their first three seasons as league members, but things are looking up. Some predicted NU to take the league championship -- and the team has won four roadies as well as its first pair of league tilts. While Matt Janning has been a workhorse with 37.5 minutes per contest (No. 6 in the country) and a team-leading 15.9 ppg, the rest of the team has struggled both offensively and defensively. At 26.8 rebounds per game, only 21 teams in the country do a worse job on the boards.
Hofstra, if you'll remember, was the most controversial snub of the 2006 Tournament (seriously... Air Force?) but made up for the slight with a strong NIT run, finishing with 26 wins. After a 22-10 campaign the following year, with a team that was better, the Pride fell hard to a 12-18 record in 2007-08. (Doesn't matter though -- power teams still won't play them.) Hofstra started out with a gaudy 8-1 record before losing three of its last four (9-4, 1-1), including a home CAA game against Drexel on Saturday. CAA fans already know about sophomore scorer Charles Jenkins, but they might not have realized that the team has won of the weirdest profiles in America. The Pride is the second-best rebounding team in the nation (41.1 rpg), holds opponents to 39 percent shooting, but can't shoot a lick themselves. The Pride's regular rotation includes eight players shooting 41 percent or worse.
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