Perhaps the biggest quibble with the Colonial Athletic Association’s basketball schedule in recent years was the absence of a home-and-home between George Mason and Virginia Commonwealth.
That won’t be a problem the next three years.
The Patriots and Rams are permanent scheduling partners in a three-year rotation released by the CAA on Tuesday. George Mason will also play James Madison, Old Dominion, Towson and UNC Wilmington twice each in those seasons.
All of those teams make sense. Mason, Old Dominion and VCU are the league’s flagship programs, and should play twice a year to maximize quality games. Mason-Madison is a natural rivalry. And UNC Wilmington is a long-time conference rival for the Patriots.
The curious thing here is Mason will have only one home-and-home in three seasons with some of the more recent arrivals in the CAA (Delaware, Drexel, Georgia State, Hofstra and Northeastern). Towson is the lone exception, and its presence a little more than an hour up the road (except when it snows) makes it a sensible home-and-home.
Those home-and-homes are as follows:
2012: Delaware and Hofstra; Georgia State and William & Mary (home); Drexel and Northeastern (away)
2013: Northeastern and William & Mary; Delaware and Drexel (home); Georgia State and Hofstra (away)
2014: Drexel and Georgia State; Hofstra and Northeastern (home); Delaware and William & Mary (away)
For those wondering, Mason had home-and-homes with Delaware, Georgia State, Hofstra and Northeastern the last two years.
And as for what this means for the entire league? Here’s a look at the combined conference records of each school’s five permanent partners over the last three seasons, which provides at least a rudimentary look at schedule strength based on recent history:
|School (09-11 W-L)
||PP 09-11 W-L
|UNC Wilmington (15-39)
||GMU, GSU, HOF, ODU, VCU
|William & Mary (21-33)
||DREX, GSU, JMU, ODU, VCU
|James Madison (23-31)
||GMU, HOF, ODU, TOW, W&M
||UD, DREX, GMU, JMU, NE
||GMU, GSU, UNCW, ODU, W&M
|Old Dominion (41-13)
||GMU, JMU, UNCW, VCU, W&M
||DREX, GSU, HOF, NE, TOW
|George Mason (41-13)
||JMU, UNCW, ODU, TOW, VCU
||UD, DREX, JMU, UNCW, NE
||UD, HOF, NE, TOW, W&M
|Georgia State (19-35)
||UD, UNCW, NE, VCU, W&M
||UD, DREX, GSU, HOF, TOW
So, uh, yeah. UNC Wilmington gets to play the three powers twice a year for the next three years. Good luck with that, Buzz Peterson.
The winners here from a competitive standpoint are the northern schools (Delaware, Drexel, Hofstra and Northeastern) that will see each of the league’s top three programs only four times in three years. The drawback (assuming Mason, Old Dominion and VCU remain consistent factors in the top third of the league) is each of those schools will probably need to schedule tougher in nonconference play to have a hope of an NCAA at-large bid.
—- Patrick Stevens