They haven’t played a game since Feb. 17. Practices have been limited. Still, somehow, the Northeastern men’s basketball team has to get prepared for the Colonial Athletic Association tournament.
The Huskies are the No. 2 seed in the CAA and begin play Sunday in Harrisonburg, Va. The question is: Are they going to be able to overcome the inactivity and win an NCAA Tournament bid?
Northeastern is not alone. The CAA had to cancel three two-game sets this past weekend — Northeastern-William & Mary, Hofstra-Elon, Delaware-Towson — so a lot of teams have been inactive. That can only contribute to the unpredictable nature of postseason play.
The CAA is just one of many conference tournaments that begin this week. A preview:
March 6-9 at Harrisonburg, Va.
Favorite: James Madison. The Dukes are playing on their home court, which would make them an obvious choice, but leading scorer Matt Lewis, a terrific guard, is out with a knee injury. They’ll need fellow guard Vado Morse to carry more of the load.
Contenders: Northeastern, Hofstra. NU’s Tyson Walker has had a remarkable season, mostly because he’s become a dangerous shooter. A great three-day stretch by him could put the Huskies back in the NCAA Tournament.
Long shot: Drexel. Sharp-shooting guard Camren Wynter would have to put together a series of great games.
Prediction: Northeastern. The Huskies have been surprising all season, especially when Walker isn’t the only offensive threat. That’s what they need in Harrisonburg.
March 3-6 at Richmond, Va.; final March 14 at Dayton, Ohio
Favorite: Saint Bonaventure. The Bonnies don’t impress you individually but are a dynamic team.
Contenders: Virginia Commonwealth, Saint Louis, Richmond. COVID pauses have ruined the season for Saint Louis and Richmond, the top two teams in the preseason poll. This is a chance for redemption.
Long shot: UMass. The Minutemen need to ride sophomore center Tre Mitchell if they’re going to pull this off.
Prediction: Saint Louis. With regular practice time and no game cancellations, the Billikens are the best team in the league.
March 3-14 at higher seeds
Favorite: Colgate. The Red Raiders have had only one weird slip-up this season, losing to Army after beating the Knights by 44 the night before.
Contenders: Navy, Lafayette. Navy, behind the intense, savvy play of guard Cam Davis, is good enough to win this. The Middies are actually the top seed.
Long shot: Boston University. It’s been a disastrous season, but the Terriers still have enough talent to pull off a series of upsets.
Prediction: Colgate. The Raiders have a multitude of guards — Jordan Burns, Nelly Cummings, Tucker Richardson, and Jack Ferguson — who are capable of big scoring games. No one can match it.
March 3-7 at Jacksonville, Fla.
Favorite: Liberty. Coach Ritchie McKay plays at least nine players and tries to wear down opponents.
Contenders: Bellarmine, Lipscomb. Bellarmine, located in Louisville, Ky., is the No. 2 seed, but isn’t eligible for the NCAA. The conference is still allowing them to play.
Prediction: Liberty. The Flames aren’t as good as they’ve been in past years, but are still clearly the best team. Leading scorer Darius McGhee is a 5-9 guard with astounding leaping ability and 3-point range.
March 3-6 at Evansville, Ind.
Favorite: Belmont. The Bruins are something to behold on offense, one of the top five shooting teams in the country, scoring more than 80 points per game.
Contenders: Morehead State, Eastern Kentucky. Both teams defeated Belmont in the last week of the regular season. Shockingly, Eastern ran the Bruins off the court.
Long shot: Austin Peay. It’s been an off-year for the Governors, who almost always contend, but a few huge games from forward Terry Taylor could make up for it.
Prediction: Belmont. The Bruins are NCAA-worthy, win or lose, but that’s not the reality of the selection process. COVID cancellations hurt their nonconference schedule, so they’ll need to win to make the tournament.
March 4-7 at St. Louis
Favorite: Loyola of Chicago. The Ramblers are one of the best defensive teams in the country. On offense, they’re more efficient than spectacular but do just enough.
Contenders: Drake, Missouri State, Indiana State. Drake would have been the co-favorite, but the Ring Dings have lost their two best players to foot injuries.
Long shot: Northern Iowa. The Panthers lost their best player, A.J. Green, to injury in November, and have slowly adjusted to his absence.
Prediction: Loyola. If you haven’t seen him, you need to watch Ramblers center Cameron Krutwig, who doesn’t have an NBA body but plays with an NBA brain.
March 5-8 at Asheville, N.C.
Favorite: North Carolina Greensboro. The Spartans’ Isaiah Miller is the best player in the league, but they’re a lukewarm favorite among a well-balanced group.
Contenders: Furman, Wofford, Chattanooga, East Tennessee. Wofford, led by point guard Storm Murphy, is capable of some hot shooting that could make a difference.
Long shot: Citadel. The well-conditioned Bulldogs are committed to full-tilt, fast-break basketball. They’d have to tire the field out.
Prediction: Furman. The Paladins are a well-balanced offensive team and experienced. This has been a tough group that hasn’t gotten over the tournament hump. If they win, it will be the school’s first NCAA appearance since 1980.
March 5-8 at Pensacola, Fla.
Favorite: Texas State. The school fired coach Danny Kaspar for using racially insensitive language toward his players; he was replaced by Terrence Johnson, who did a great job keeping the team on track.
Contenders: South Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia State. In 6-10 Jalen Thomas, Georgia State has the kind of player few other teams in the league do.
Long shot: Texas Arlington. The Mavericks have some offensive firepower, most notably guard Shahada Wells.
Prediction: South Alabama. The Cougars are sparked by guard Michael Flowers, an intense competitor who will nail long-range threes but also take his defender into the paint and overpower him.
March 6-9 at higher seeds
Favorite: Bryant. The Bulldogs are the most talented team, but they’ve had some odd dips in performance. They seem to be on the right track now.
Contenders: Wagner, Mount St. Mary’s. Wagner has won 10 of its last 11 games.
Long shot: None. Because of the pandemic, the NEC reduced this to a four-team tournament.
Prediction: Bryant. The Bulldogs just need guard Michael Green to be at his best.
March 6-9 at Sioux Falls, S.D.
Favorite: South Dakota State. Offensive balance fuels the Jackrabbits, with five players averaging between 9.9 and 16.1 ppg.
Contenders: North Dakota State, South Dakota. SDak has a powerful 1-2 punch in A.J. Plitzuweit and Stanley Umude, both averaging more than 20 ppg.
Long shot: Oral Roberts. Sophomore guard Max Abmas is a scoring machine, averaging 24.7 ppg, and has gone for 40 or more twice.
Prediction: South Dakota State. The Jackrabbits are battle-tested, having played games against West Virginia, Saint Mary’s, Utah State, and Iowa State (a victory).
March 4-9 at Las Vegas
Favorite: Gonzaga. The Zags are overwhelming, the best offensive team in the nation.
Contenders: OK, no one really, but to be consistent . . . Brigham Young, Loyola Marymount, Pepperdine. BYU has great depth, as coach Mark Pope can play up to 11 players and will get an NCAA at-large berth.
Long shot: Pacific. Former NBA player Damon Stoudamire has done a good job reviving this program, and the Tigers actually gave Gonzaga a semi-tough game this season.
Prediction: Gonzaga. Tune in to the final and see which player might look good in Celtics green. (Hint: Corey Kispert.)
Joe Sullivan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeSullivan.