Feb 22, 2012
Normally at this time of the local college basketball season the talk would center on who’s in, who’s out, whose slot on the NCAA Tournament bubble is ready to burst.
Not this season. That’s not to say the DMV will not be represented in the field of 68; Georgetown is a lock for the field of 68, Virginia just a couple of wins away. Overall, the scenario appears rather black and white for the other locals: win your conference tournament and secure the automatic bid, or else.
Well, so we think. The CAA’s chances of landing a second bid are looking better with each new RPI calculation, meaning VCU or George Mason could partake in the madness come March as an at-large. Just don’t count on it. Beyond that…the likes of Loyola (Md.), American and Norfolk State have realistic shots at winning their conference’s automatic bid, yet none may enter their league tournaments as the favorite, heavy or otherwise. Odds are significantly steeper for Maryland, Virginia Tech and Old Dominion.
So March Madness could have a significant local presence or just a pair of entrants. Less than three weeks before we find out…
For our purposes, we included programs in D.C. and around the Beltway, north to Baltimore, south to Richmond and Norfolk (essentially the Comcast SportsNet region) plus all Division I spots (27 overall) in between.
Ranked teams listed below, followed by first place votes (though don’t bother looking for them after the Hoyas…) followed by total points. Records through Monday’s games.
1 – No. 9 Georgetown (15 first-place votes; 150) Record: (20-5, 10-4 Big East)…streak (W2)
Upcoming: at Seton Hall (Tuesday), Villanova (Saturday)
Everyone knows Hollis Thompson can shoot. That goes triple for the Big East coaches who gear their respective defensive game plans around stopping the conference’s leading 3-point shooter (47.6 percent). Lately, the 6-8 ½ forward is disproving the notion that his overall game is lacking in comparison to his wondrous perimeter touch.
In Saturday’s win at Providence, Thompson scored 13 points and tallied a game-high 10 rebounds for his second double-double in three games and third of the season. With Otto Porter sidelined the final 11 plus minutes of the second half after suffering a bruised thigh while attempting to take a charge, Thompson stepped up his offensive game, scoring 10 of those 13 points in the second half with many coming from around the basket. The folks at the Big East office took notice adding the junior to the conference’s weekly honor roll for the second time this season. The folks at DraftExpress.com also expressed their thoughts on the NBA prospect.
Thompson never lacks for confidence, but sometimes he disappears on the offensive end. Chalk it up to occasional lapses of energy, the Hoyas not designing plays outside the normal offensive framework for their second-leading scorer who struggles to create his own shot off the dribble or opponents attentiveness. Regardless of the reason, Georgetown needs the Southern California native to star in crunch time and remain a scoring presence throughout. At least lately Thompson is showing that when the offensive opportunities are not available, he can do more than just shoot.
*Only one thing matters for the Hoyas over final four games. Get the coveted double-bye in the Big East tournament and avoid playing with the likes of DePaul and Providence. (Elliott Smith, CBSSports.com)
*Don’t look know but the Princeton, I mean, Georgetown offense is starting to hit on all cylinders. The Hoyas have assisted on at least 70 percent of their made field goals in each of the last four games (3-1) after failing to do so in any of the first 21 games. The only defeat in this four game stretch came in an overtime loss at No. 2 Syracuse. (Bobby Bancroft, 106.7 The Fan)
2 – No. 25 Virginia (96); Record (20-6, 7-5 ACC)…streak (W1)
Upcoming: at Virginia Tech (Tuesday), No. 7 North Carolina (Saturday)
During the ACC coaches teleconference on Monday, Virginia’s Tony Bennett said the swelling on sophomore guard Joe Harris’ broken left (non-shooting) hand should begin subsiding over the next few days. The Cavaliers second-leading scorer (11.8 ppg) continues to play – Harris scored six points against Maryland on Saturday – but Bennett remained uncertain whether 7-foot center (fractured right ankle) would return to action this season.
That was one mighty second half performance the Cavaliers smacked on the Pe’Shon Howard-less Terrapins over the weekend. Of course, Maryland does not have the look of an NCAA Tournament team. Against such foes, UVA’s depleted roster and figures to have a harder time laying the wood. More minutes could be in store for freshmen Darion Atkins (Landon) and Paul Jesperson unless Bennett sticks with a six-man rotation.
*Cavaliers are 7-5 in ACC, probably need two more combined wins – in regular season and conference tournament — to make NCAA. (Kevin Dunleavy, Washington Examiner)
*Cavs 24-2 under Tony Bennett when scoring at least 70 points. They
didn’t need nearly that many to beat Maryland. (Mike Ashley, Terrapin Times)
*The Cavs have dropped three out of their last five games, but were able to stop a two-game skid with a dominant showing against Maryland. This is a tournament team for sure, but I wouldn’t expect to see them around past the first weekend. If Mike Scott is gets cold, gets in foul trouble or gets shut down, this team doesn’t have a lot of other big-time options. (Troy Machir, BallinIsAHabit.com)
Only one thing matters for the Hoyas over final four games. Get the coveted double-bye in the Big East tournament and avoid playing with the likes of DePaul and Providence. (Smith)
3 – George Mason (94); (23-6, 14-2 CAA)…streak (W5)
Upcoming: Northeastern (Wednesday), at VCU (Saturday)
I’ll have more on the Patriots/CAA NCAA Tournament outlook on Wednesday. For now, let me just toss out this stat. In their last 30 CAA games, the Patriots have 28 wins. Wow….
*If winning close games makes you tournament tough, no team in the CAA will be better prepared for the conference tournament (Dunleavy)
*Beat VCU at home with the shot of the year in the CAA…the CAA Tournament should be a doozy with at least 3 NCAA worthy teams (GMU, VCU and Drexel) clawing for perhaps only 1 bid ( Joe Yasharoff, Comcast SportsNet)
*Senior Ryan Pearson likely played his last game at the Patriot Center against Lamar on Saturday afternoon and in the process drew praise from Cardinals Coach Pat Knight – the son Hall of Famer Bobby Knight. Pearson, who averages 17.8 ppg and 8.6 rpg, was described by Knight as a player that would be “all conference” in any league, specifically the Big 12 or the Big 10. (Bancroft)
*The Patriots don’t make it easy on themselves but they keep winning, 11 times in the last 12 games, including the buzzer-beater against VCU. Their chance at the CAA regular season title should come down to the finale at VCU on Feb. 25. (Ashley)
4 – VCU (79); Record: (23-6, 13-3 CAA)…streak (W1)
Upcoming: @ UNC Wilmington (Wednesday), George Mason (Saturday)
Yes, the Rams lost at George Mason last week in a thrilling, down to the final shot contest, their 11-game winning streak snapped in the process. Yes, you could downgrade the Rams based on Shaka Smart’s squad blowing a late lead on the road as the Patriots rained down 3-pointers in the final seconds. You could, but that would be the small-minded approach.
ive Mason credit for always answering a VCU rally, but indeed the assertive and guard-oriented Rams were the ones leading the way through out. One missed free throw proved costly, but it was the only one in eight late-game attempts that erred.
The Rams defeated Northern Iowa over the weekend for a BracketBuster win and have another shot at the Patriots on Saturday, but this time on their home court. Do not be surprised if the outcome is different this time. Do not be surprised if the Rams surge back into at-large consideration. Do not be surprised if the Rams once again make the NCAA’s that they once again cause havoc. After all, those games are played on neutral courts.
* The buzzer-beating loss to George Mason snapped a 12-game winning streak for the Rams. But they rebounded nicely with a BracketBusters win over Northern Iowa. They are just one game back of Drexel and GMU for first place in the CAA. They get a chance at redemption (and first place) on Saturday when they face the Patriots in the season finale. (Machir)
*Buzzer-beater at George Mason Smarted but VCU still playing great basketball. Their +5.76 turnover margin easily leads the CAA. (Ashley)
5 – Maryland (44); (15-11, 5-7 ACC)…streak (L1)
Upcoming: Miami (Tuesday), @ Georgia Tech (Saturday)
If nothing else this season, we learned Mark Turgeon is one honest coach. On Monday at his press conference before Tuesday’s game against Miami, Turgeon bluntly stated the Terps path for an NCAA Tournament berth.
“Four in Atlanta. Four wins in Atlanta. Yeah, let’s don’t kid ourselves. We’ve got to win four in Atlanta or eight straight, however you want to look at it.”
While a win over the Hurricanes followed up by upsets at North Carolina and against Virginia might change Turgeon’s outlook, his point is well taken…
*You must be this tall to ride the Terrapin rollercoaster. Terps haven’t won two games in a row since mid-January. Can’t decide if it’s good news or bad news that Terrell Stoglin is in the gym getting up extra shots prior to Miami game Tuesday. (Ashley)
*ACC standings now taking on clarity. Top three (Duke, UNC, FSU) are in NCAA tournament. Next three (UVa., Miami, NCS) are at 7-5 in the ACC and are building strong cases for selection. Of the rest, Maryland (5-7) has the best chance of replacing one of those, but probably needs to get to .500 in regular season and then win twice in the tournament to get in discussion. (Dunleavy)
* Pe’Shon Howard’s injury, Terrell Stoglin’s attitude–a fold job in the second half against UVA-ugh! (Rich Dubroff, CSNbaltimore.com)
*Terps need to finish strong enough to secure NIT Bid? (Jackson)
(and a note from someone who passed on the Terps this week…)
*You might note that Maryland has been left off this week’s ballot, but that’s because Georgetown just implemented a policy that refuses to allow its bloggers to rank Maryland until they stop being weenies and admit that at this point they are a clear second fiddle to Georgetown when it comes to DMV hoops relevance. (Andrew Geiger, Casual Hoya)
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Ben Standig is a contributor to CSNWashington.com and is a weekly guest on Chris and the Commish. Follow his work on twitter @BenStandig