- Andy Katz, ESPN Senior Writer
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1. Drexel was picked to win the Colonial Athletic Association, a surprise to head coach Bruiser Flint and probably most everyone who follows the league. George Mason, even with a coaching change, was a fringe Top 25 team and yet the Patriots were selected second. Could Drexel come from America East and become the first team not from the state of Virginia or UNC Wilmington to win the CAA? Yes. Flint said the Dragons are more competitive in practice then he’s seen recently. But the Dragons will start the season without leading scorer, guard Chris Fouch, recovering from offseason knee surgery. Flint said he’s hopeful Fouch will be back by December. That puts pressure on the Dragons to avoid stumbling in the Paradise Jam in St. Thomas so as not to hurt a possible at-large berth.
2. Butler was the pick to win the Horizon League again, barely over Detroit. But the telling info from the Horizon Leauge poll was that the Bulldogs had no one on the preseason all-league first team and only one (Andrew Smith) on the second. Meanwhile, Detroit had the player of the year (Ray McCallum Jr.) and two others on the first team (Eli Holman and Chase Simon). One problem for the Titans is Holman started the fall by taking a leave of absence due to personal issues. Still, if there was ever a year for Detroit to unseat Butler this is the season. Failing this season could be a significant psychological blow.
3. Nevada was picked by the WAC coaches to win the league, edging out New Mexico State. Utah State was third. Utah State has been the dominant team in the WAC, and it is finally going through a rebuilding phase. Utah State has been in the mix an at-large berth for years and fellow bubble teams have sweated out the WAC final. No need to worry this season. Nevada probably won’t have the résumé to warrant an at-large berth in its final season in the WAC before going to the MWC. This is a one-bid league.