2022 High Point vs UNCW - Men's

CAA Games Of The Week: Delaware Welcomes Ohio U., UNCW Takes On High Point

CAA Games Of The Week: Delaware Welcomes Ohio U., UNCW Takes On High Point

The final week of nonconference games presents CAA teams with a chance to fine-tune some key areas before league play tips off.

Dec 16, 2022 by Briar Napier
CAA Games Of The Week: Delaware Welcomes Ohio U., UNCW Takes On High Point

The weekly grind of conference play begins in less than two weeks, and with it comes two months of week-in, week-out, high-stakes basketball. With nonconference opportunities dwindling until then, time’s running out to make sure everything is up to par.

A couple of early favorites prior to the CAA slate have emerged, but outlooks can change weekly with a string of defeats and/or poor performances. Conference play tips off after Christmas Day, leaving some left to be ready to challenge during the weeks ahead — and others to be swallowed up whole by the rest of the pack.

Here’s a look at the CAA men’s basketball games to check out this week, with all matchups listed below being streamed live on FloHoops.

NOTE: All tipoff times are listed in Eastern Time and are subject to change.

High Point vs. UNCW

UNC Wilmington just keeps on chugging along.

A 28-point win at home against Jacksonville this week improved it to 8-3 overall with a seven-game winning streak in tow, the longest in the league by any school as of this writing, with the exception of College of Charleston.

It wasn’t as if the Dolphins were chumps, either. 

Jacksonville entered the game 5-2, including a solid win on the road against VCU on its resume, yet still got stymied on offense, as the CAA’s best defense (61.3 points allowed per game) thus far held JU to just 53 points.

Sophomore forward Trazarien White (13.0 points, 5.8 rebounds per game this season) looks like one of the league’s most improved players and a force bound to be a threat in league play.

Before the Seahawks can jump into that after Christmas, they’ve got two more nonconference tune-up games left to hone their game in pursuit of a CAA championship. 

The first one comes against High Point this weekend, an opponent likely to give UNCW’s heralded defense a heck of a test.

G.G. Smith’s Panthers are one of the top-10 scoring offenses in the country thus far (85.4 points per game), and they’ve surged to a solid 8-2 start that has included wins at Furman and at home against Wofford.

Junior guard Jaden House (21.2 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.2 assists per game) is bound to see heavy usage again as the focal point of High Point’s offense, and the key unquestionably is stopping him, as the Panthers are 1-2 this year when House scores under 15 points. 

Sophomores Abdoulaye Thiam (15.5 points per game) and Zack Austin (15.1 points) both reach that threshold fairly regularly, too, making it a possible trap game and tricky assignment for UNCW on the defensive side of the floor.

The good news for the Seahawks is that they’ve seen plenty of elite scoring talent on the schedule already, as their three defeats have come to powerhouses North Carolina, Oklahoma and UConn, giving them good preparation for whatever the Panthers will throw at them Sunday.

Ohio at Delaware

Delaware, the CAA’s reigning representative at the NCAA Tournament, is on a near-identical start for the second consecutive year.

At 6-4 this season (after a 6-3 start in 2021-2022), the Blue Hens have had their share of impressive nonconference wins and excellent Jameer Nelson Jr. performances in the backcourt, but it feels as if there’s still another gear for UD to reach. 

A season ago, coach Martin Ingelsby’s team found that gear through the emergence of pro prospect and 2021-2022 CAA Rookie of the Year Jyare Davis later on in the schedule, riding that momentum all the way to a March Madness berth.

This season, meanwhile, it’s yet to be determined where that extra spark will come from for Delaware. Perhaps it’ll find it in the final three-game nonconference stretch before CAA play begins on Dec. 29 at home against Hofstra.

With three consecutive wins as of this writing, and tough (yet winnable) matchups at Princeton and Rider coming before they return home to play Ohio, the Blue Hens seems to be establishing an identity through their “big three” of Nelson, Davis and offseason UMBC transfer L.J. Owens. All three are double-figure-per-night scorers and have reached double-digit point totals in UD’s past three wins.

The key role player position for Delaware is still more of an open competition, however, though offseason La Salle transfer guard Christian Ray and his spectacular rebounding skills (10.6 boards per game) for his size (6-foot-6) has been making a case for that role as he attempts to establish more consistent scoring numbers (6.9 points per game).

The Bobcats are two years removed from a NCAA tourney appearance of their own and one year removed from a 25-win season, but coach Jeff Boals’ squad has started out 5-5, while working through some absences of key players, both from the season before and during the current campaign.

That list includes senior forward and leading scorer Dwight Wilson (who missed a win against Alabama State last month) and exciting freshman guard AJ Brown (11.0 points per game after missing the first four games).

UD’s top-tier trio can exploit an Ohio defense that allows 71.1 points per game, but it must be careful not to let the Bobcats’ own stars do work, either.

Yale vs. Monmouth

Monmouth likely always was going to be due for some regression in its first year of CAA play, having lost all five starters from a team that made the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament title game last season, before losing to the year’s eventual March Madness Cinderella, Saint Peter’s.

But the Hawks’ struggles amid a tough nonconference slate (and having one of the youngest rosters in the entire country) this season have been especially rough, with Monmouth starting the season 1-10, with longtime coach King Rice struggling to get the wheels turning in West Long Branch.

Granted, the opponents have been strong, as only two teams the Hawks have faced this year currently rank outside the top 200 in KenPom — with away trips to Seton Hall, Virginia and Illinois mixed in, too — but the third-worst defense in America as of this writing (83.2 points per game allowed) makes it hard to sugarcoat things.

So, why exactly is a visit from 9-3 Yale — an Ivy League contender looking for a second straight NCAA Tournament appearance — worth watching, again?

It’s because another CAA team in a similar state, Stony Brook (3-8), gave the Bulldogs a scare Dec. 3, with the Seawolves finding themselves down by just two points with under a minute left, before Yale pulled away and escaped with a 77-72 win.

The Bulldogs' roster is chock-full of talent and deserve tons of respect, with all three defeats coming by 10 points or less to Colorado, Butler and Kentucky on the road, but the off night (or white-hot shooting night from an opponent) can happen at random in college basketball, like when Stony Brook shot 11 for 20 (55%) from 3-point range against Yale, despite only shooting 29.1% from beyond the arc for the entire season to this point.

Still, the Bulldogs’ elite defense (57.6 points allowed) makes for a lofty task ahead for a Monmouth offense that struggles to create scoring opportunities, though players like junior forward Myles Foster (11.9 points, 6.4 rebounds per game) are going to try their best to break through.