With just two games, including Thursday night's contest at James Madison, left in the regular season, it's clear what Old Dominion (22-6, 12-4 CAA) can do.
But astute observers got a glimpse of that three months ago, when the Monarchs beat Clemson and Xavier on their way to the Paradise Jam tournament title in St. Thomas. That field also included Alabama, now 19-8 and 11-2 in the SEC but which went 0-3 in the event.
"They're sitting pretty strong in the SEC race, and Xavier (21-6 and 12-1 Atlantic 10) is winning the A-10," ODU coach Blaine Taylor said. "That tells you how strong that field was. (Winning the title) was a strong performance, and it kind of set the stage for what we're capable of."
What the Monarchs probably won't do is defend their regular-season Colonial Athletic Association championship, with George Mason (23-5, 14-2) holding a two-game league lead. They will, however, earn one of the first-round CAA tournament byes that go to the top four regular-season finishers, though their seeding remains up in the air.
"With the unbalanced schedule and not having the control over other teams, you've kind of got to let the chips fall where they may," Taylor said. "You're going to have to go in and play basketball against some good teams."
Those good teams include VCU (21-9, 12-5) and Hofstra (19-10, 13-4 CAA). The Pride boasts the league's leading scorer in Charles Jenkins, who averages 23.3 points, leads the league with 4.8 assists per game and is the odds-on favorite to win player of the year honors.
Taylor would like to nominate another candidate for voters' consideration.
"Frank Hassell, I would put up as certainly an all-league candidate," Taylor said. "I think somebody's got to get hit over the head with a baseball bat if he's not first-team, but I think he's an MVP candidate."
Hassell, ODU's senior forward, averages 13.9 points and is second in the CAA with 9.7 rebounds per game.
Melinda Waldrop covers local colleges for The Daily Press. Her blog is at dailypress.com/oncampusCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun