Winston-Salem State: Coming up short at last years tournament is motivation enough for coach Bobby Collins Rams.
Livingstone: Blue Bears have the talent and depth to give Winston-Salem State a run for its money.
Bowie State: The Bulldogs have one of the leagues best defenders in Carlos Smith, a 6-foot-8 forward who was second in the league in blocks (36).
Lincoln: The Lions have methodically stockpiled talent to compete, led by 6-0 guard Derrick Washington.
5 players to watch
Emilio Parks, J.C. Smith (6-6, Jr., F): The Golden Bulls all-CIAA pick (15.4 ppg) has added a mid-range jumper to his arsenal.
Mark Thomas, Livingstone (5-10, Sr., G): Arguably the leagues best offensive point guard at 18.6 ppg last season. When hes on, the Blue Bears are tough to tame.
Joel Kindred, St. Augustines (6-4, Sr., G): Outstanding athlete whose offense is catching up to his defensive prowess.
Preston Ross, Winston-Salem State (6-5, Sr., F): Versatile swingman who can create matchup headaches, especially in space.
Omar Briggs, Virginia Union (6-8, Sr., C): Panthers success could hinge on getting him more shots (46 percent accuracy last season).
Did you know ...
• J.C. Smith coach Steve Joyner is the leagues active leader in wins with 465.
• Livingstone advanced to the NCAA Division II tournament for the first time in 2013 and is ranked 18th in the preseason national poll.
• Chowan assistant coach Willie McGee was a high school teammate of NBA MVP LeBron James at St. Vincent St. Mary High in Akron, Ohio.
• Former Duke standout and Shaw coach Robert Brickey is an assistant at Fayetteville State.
• Charlotte is hosting its ninth straight, and perhaps final, CIAA tournament in February at Time Warner Cable Arena. The next host city could be announced by early next year.