Bedlam has been the theme of the 2017-18 college basketball season. Not much is too different for the teams in the Mid-Atlantic area. This past 11-day stretch saw nine overtime periods for the 29 teams (and we may be missing some) and countless relative upsets.
This week we saw Virginia Tech get a much-needed upset over No. 10 North Carolina, reestablishing themselves as an NCAA Tournament threat. The top four of Virginia, Virginia Tech, Maryland, and VCU finally got broken up by a former Commonwealth power. Radford also makes a surprise jump into the top 10 for the first time this season.
Going back to the craziness, good luck figuring out the CAA, Patriot, Big South, and MEAC conferences this year.
Some could say the MEAC has fallen back to their appropriate place after these rankings gave some teams the benefit of the doubt early in the season. After a week’s worth of incredulous upsets, there is a constant theme that continues to be prevalent: the MEAC is a mess.
They now hold the bottom six spots in the rankings and only have one team in the top 20.
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These rankings are based on scores as of Thursday, January 23 at 12:00 p.m. All 29 Division I schools in Washington D.C., Maryland, Virginia, and Delaware are included in this rankings.
1. Virginia Cavaliers (ACC):
Record: 18-1 (7-0)
Last Week: #1 (+0)
The winning streak is now up to 10 games and during that run, the most points they have allowed an opponent to score is 61. Five of those teams have been held to under 50.
But next is the test that will define the Cavaliers this season. They host No. 18 Clemson and then travels to No. 4 Duke. Wins and losses here will be the difference from a No. 1 seed and a No. 3 seed, both in the ACC and in the NCAA Tournament.
If they get through those two, the rest of the conference stretch should be smooth sailing. There have been no blips on the radar since ACC play started. Even though some wins may only be by single digits none were particularly close. For instance, against George Tech they only won by 16 points but forced 18 turnovers for the Yellow Jackets.
2. Virginia Tech Hokies (ACC):
Record: 14-6 (3-4)
Last Week: #2 (+0)
Virginia Tech got the monster win they needed over No. 10 North Carolina the day before these rankings got released.
Up until this contest, their only ACC wins were against the atrocious Pitt and Wake Forest squads that are currently occupying the basement of the league. An 11-2 non-conference stretch may have been for nothing, until now.
Behind Justin Robinson’s 19 points, five boards and four rebounds, the team’s offense was back to its explosive self. They finished 47.6 percent from the floor, 40.0 percent from long range with 12 three-pointers on the night.
It was also an encouraging sight to see the Hokies put out such an effort on national television with their backs against the wall.
The win may not put them in the tournament yet, but they are back in the conversation after a rough loss to Louisville.
3. Maryland Terrapins (Big Ten):
Record: 15-7 (4-5)
Last Week: #3 (+0)
The season is going from bad too worse for the Terps.
After a loss to Indiana, that almost assuredly knocked them out of the NCAA Tournament at-large conversation, they suffered another injury.
Bruno Fernando suffered a right ankle sprain and may miss some more time this year. Injuring the same ankle back in December he missed two contests, the post may be quiet for the remainder of the year. Already down to nine scholarship players, the Terps have to tread carefully going forward.
While it may be rough now, if everyone stays and returns healthy, buckle up, 2018-19 is going to be one to remember for Maryland.
Losing three of their last four, there is still nationally ranked Michigan State and Purdue up next on their docket.
Aside from Anthony Cowan Jr. (16.4 ppg, 4.8 apg) there is a significant lack of consistency from the rest of the roster this year.
4. Old Dominion Monarchs (C-USA):
Record: 15-4 (6-1)
Last Week: #5 (+1)
It looks like it is going to be a four-dog race for the top of Conference-USA this season. Middle Tennessee and Western Kentucky started the year as the top two, but now Old Dominion and Marshall are just on the outside.
Playing the top three teams, the Monarchs are sitting at 1-1 with three contests remaining. Against the weaker remaining half of the conference, the Monarchs have taken care of business, 5-0.
Fortunately for the Monarchs, their only match-up against the Blue Raiders is at home in Norfolk, VA. There, ODU is a comfortable 7-1 with their lone loss to Western Kentucky.
The junior combo of Ahmad Caver and B.J. Stith has not lost their step from a strong first half of the year. Caver had 17 points, seven rebounds, and seven steals against FAU. Stith had 20 points (6-13 FG) and three boards in a win over Marshall.
Overall their nine-transfer roster is putting it all together for what could be a special season in the Hampton Roads area.
Breaking into the top four for the first time all year, they break-up the run that Virginia, Maryland, Virginia Tech, and VCU had at the top.
5. VCU Rams (A-10):
Record: 12-8 (4-3)
Last Week: #4 (-1)
Last week their led was “[j]ust when it looks like it is time to take stock in the Rams, something happens.”
Look at them now.
A blowout loss by 27 to Dayton and an embarrassing home loss to the cross-town Spiders have VCU in a little bit of a scramble.
In those two losses, their defense was outworked and offensively shots just failed to fall. Since returning full-time due to a right ankle injury, Maine transfer Issac Vann has lacked the productivity he showed in the first month of the year. Over the last three contests, he has been restricted to 8.7 points a game and is shooting 39 percent as a forward. On the season he has shot 43 percent from the floor.
Jonathan Williams struggled too, 11 and 6 points respectively in both losses.
Now instead of battling for an at-large spot, they have to worry about fighting back to earn a top-four spot in the conference and a double-bye in the NCAA Tournament.
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6. William & Mary Tribe (CAA):
Record: 13-6 (6-2)
Last Week: #6 (+0)
To be successful in conference play you have to take care of business at home and this past week the Tribe failed to do so.
It took a miraculous comeback in the final minute to defeat the lowly James Madison. At one point they trailed by 20 points and with 50 seconds left they were down by nine. Matt Millon would hit a three-pointer with 4.7 seconds left to send the game to overtime. From there, David Cohn (21 points) scored eight of W&M’s 14 overtime points as they went on to win by seven.
Their defensive woes did not improve after losing by 26 to Towson and 20 to Northeastern. Although they are two of the top four teams in the CAA, you cannot afford to lose on your home court.
They did respond against Elon, hitting 16 three-pointers at a 51.6 percent success rate. But if they are going to get the shadow of making the NCAA Tournament off of their back, they have to deliver and count on a good seed come the conference tournament.
In conference play, the aforementioned Cohn has been putting up big numbers for the Tribe. He is averaging 18.1 points a game in the CAA and making 52.8 percent of all deep ball shots he takes.
7. Towson Tigers (CAA):
Record: 14-7 (4-4)
Last Week: #7 (+0)
The CAA is a confusing conference, along with most of the conferences in college basketball. Towson is one of the reasons why.
They romped league-leading William & Mary in Williamsburg by 26 by shooting 64 percent from the field. It was eerily similar to what everyone saw from the Tigers at the start of the season. For the second time in CAA play, six players reached double figures, highlighted by Mike Morsell (23 points) and Zane Martin (20 points).
But then the dynamic duo mustered 31 points on a combined 9-for-28 shooting performance, and only one assist, at UNC-Wilmington. It ended up being a two-point loss, their fifth loss of five points or more on the season.
They have proven they can beat top teams and even teams that are better than them. Winning on the road is a different setting where they are 2-6.
As long as they do not play Charleston in the CAA Tournament they should be good. The Tigers still tout a 5-0 neutral court record.
And they are not dropping because there is no other team that is winning.
8. Georgetown Hoyas (Big East):
Record: 13-6 (3-5)
Last Week: #8 (+0)
It was not a pretty one for the Hoyas in their double overtime victory over St. John’s. There was a point where it seemed like neither squad wanted to win. In total 145 shots were taken and it resulted in a combined 182 points.
Marcus Derrickson scored the most points he has ever done as a college athlete, bringing home 27 and a hitting game-tying three-pointer in overtime. He barely took a break with 47 minutes played out of the possible 50.
The win pretty much guarantees that the Hoyas will not finish worse than eighth place in the standings. This is, of course, assuming that they will handle DePaul on Jan. 24 like they did on the road earlier in the season. But anything is possible for this Georgetown team, and not in a good way.
Now the battle for the Hoyas will be staying afloat of .500 the rest of the way. The 32-point loss to No. 1 Villanova will not be the only blowout this season. After DePaul, they go on a three-game road trip to Creighton, Xavier, and Providence.
9. Radford Highlanders (Big South):
Record: 13-8 (6-2)
Last Week: #13 (+4)
Radford should be the face of the Big South conference, but there are still question marks after losses to Gardner-Webb and Campbell.
Still, it cannot be taken away from them that they knocked off in-state rival, Liberty at home. It was a perfect night for Ed Polite Jr. with 18 points, going 7-for-7 in a low scoring overtime contest. It wasn’t necessarily clean or a good game for the Highlanders but they gutted out the victory.
At home they remain 7-0, but that will be contested the rest of the way with Charleston Southern, Gardner-Webb, High Point, Campbell, and Presbyterian.
Oh and welcome to the top 10 for the first time this season Highlanders. They have made the biggest jump since the preseason rankings where they came in at 21st.
10. Liberty Flames (Big South):
Record: 12-9 (3-5)
Last Week: #9 (-1)
Who knew the home loss to Longwood would signal the beginning of the end for a once promising Flames team.
Since then they dropped an OT thriller to Radford, fell by 11 to High Point, and was never in a contest against UNC Asheville at home. All four, if including Longwood, were contests they were favored in and should have won.
In the four-game skid, they have dropped nearly 100 spots in KenPom, now resting at No. 205. Liberty went from being the favorite in the Big South, to now a question mark on if they will even be in contention for the NIT.
Their once balanced offense is averaging 10 fewer points in Big South play than they are on the season. They have to get back on board hosting Campbell and traveling to Presbyterian up next.
11. George Washington Colonials (A-10):
Record: 9-11 (2-5)
Last Week: #11 (+0)
A stretch against all teams from the Commonwealth in the Atlantic 10 resulted in a 1-2 record since the last rankings. Their lone win was over their fellow George, George Mason for their ninth straight victory over that program.
It is known that defense is their strength and against the Patriots, they were able to shut down their top two players for a majority of the night. Yuta Watanabe was the story both offensively and defensively. He had 19 points, with three three-pointers, and locked down the Patriots leading scorer to three points. He came in averaging 16.8 a game. As a team, they held Mason to only 68 points and improved their record to 5-2 when holding teams to 68 or fewer points.
The win over Mason just canceled out the loss to the Spiders in terms of these rankings. The Colonials barely move up in the rankings.
Against VCU they had their best shooting half of the year (70 percent in the first), but ultimately only scored 37 points and still trailed at the break. They would go on to lose In VCU.
12. George Mason Patriots (A-10):
Record: 9-11 (3-4)
Last Week: #10 (-2)
A promising start in conference play has gone dim after back-to-back losses to George Washington and Duquesne.
On paper, they should be a better team than the Colonials. George Washington has almost as short of a bench (nine players) and Mason (eight players). Nonetheless, some things are meant to be, as the Patriots have not beaten George Washington since joining the Atlantic 10 in 2013.
In Pittsburgh, they fell in double overtime after Justin Kier had a career-best 27 points. He also hit a buzzer-beating drive to the basket to send the game into the second extra period.
At this point in the year it is a matter of enough players stepping up in a game for Mason to be successful. The Patriots need strong production from at least three players if they are going to be in a position to win.
Oh, their bench got shorter too as A.J. Wilson has missed the last two contests due to illness. That has left seven scholarship players available for Dave Paulsen. Their last win was a high scoring one over Saint Louis.
13. Navy Midshipmen (Patriot):
Record: 13-8 (4-4)
Last Week: #12 (-1)
Unlike another military academy, the government shutdown did not prevent the Midshipmen from playing this week.
They won two and lost two, one each at home and on the road. Both wins were in a thrilling fashion, taking Holy Cross to overtime and Bryce Dulin’s buzzer beater to knock off Lafayette.
The game winner happened just after Aex Petrie from Lafayette tied up the contest at 72 with a three of his own to leave 5.5 left on the clock. After calling his final timeout, Ed DeChellis drew up a play that resulted with the Midshipmen coming up with a win.
Dulin totaled 20 points on the night to go with the four other starters that reached double figures. His output was double his season average (10.9 points).
They are however in the midst of a tough string of games, two straight games against the top two team in the Patriot, Boston and American. They have the same one-two punch near the end of February as well.
14. UMBC Retrievers (A-East):
Record: 13-8 (4-2)
Last Week: #14 (+0)
They respond after a slight call out last week to beat UMass Lowell and Hartford.
Then they only scored 39 points against Albany, losing by 44.
In the first half of the game they went scoreless during an 8:46 span, shot 18 percent from the field and only rattled home 12 points.
Yes, Albany was a good team, but not that good going 33-for-57 overall and 9-for-17 from deep.
The Golden Retrievers are lucky there
is was a big gap between them and Delaware, Richmond.
READ ALSO: LAST WEEK'S RANKINGS HAD TEAMS STREAKING
15. Delaware Blue Hens (CAA):
Record: 11-10 (4-4)
Last Week: #15 (+0)
A sophomore and freshman named Ryan are carrying this squad. Together Ryan Daly and Ryan Allen combine for 31 points shooting 41 percent from the field.
The future is bright for Newark’s basketball team. Still, some growing pains for Delaware but they are not a team that you want to square up against in the first round of the CAA Tournament.
They only remain above Richmond this week because of the head-to-head win from two months ago and the Spiders’ record is still abysmal.
16. Richmond Spiders (A-10):
Record: 6-13 (4-3)
Last Week: #17 (+1)
My early prediction on the Richmond Spiders is not too crazy now.
Richmond knocked off VCU at the Siegel Center with four players chipping in double figures. Frosh Grant Golden had the most with 17 as the Spiders never trailed in the second half. Defensively they held VCU to 52 points, their lowest since they joined the Atlantic 10.
After losing three straight, they now have won three in a row in the conference. Again, it the redshirt freshman Golden leading the way (15.2 ppg, 49.2 FG, 26 blocks)
In possibly the weakest Atlantic 10 ever, top half of the conference here they come.
17. Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers (NEC):
Record: 10-11 (4-4)
Last Week: #18 (+1)
St. Francis Brooklyn and Fairleigh Dickinson stunted a four-game winning streak for the Mount.
Some people are debating the potential of this team compared to the NCAA Tournament team and it's honestly a close call. A year ago the Mountaineers pulled out an incredible end-of-season run to win the conference. This season, they have better talent but not every player has harnessed it yet.
Keeping an eye on 5-5 Junior Robinson, he’s still at 21.7 ppg and 5.3 apg on the year.
18. Morgan State Bears (MEAC):
Record: 8-12 (4-3)
Last Week: #16 (-2)
The first road trip of the MEAC could not have gone any worse for the Bears.
They lost a close one to North Carolina A&T, got blown out by N.C. Central, and lost a shocker to Coppin State.
This team has been so up and down that a roller coaster would be impressed. There apparently is nothing Tiwian Kendley (28.8 ppg) can do to stop it either; he’s scored 30+ in four of his nine games this season.
Morgan State will get some pep in their step, beating the Hornets and hosting South Carolina State.
19. American Eagles (Patriot):
Record: 5-15 (2-7)
Last Week: #21 (-2)
Ending their losing streak, the Eagles got back in the win column beating Loyola (Md.). It was the Eagles’ most efficient game on the year (shooting 56.5 percent and making 11 three-pointers). Sam Iorio posted a double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds.
That was then followed up with a win over the conference leader Boston. Iorio surpassed his performance with a 26 point game, marking his season-high.
20. Loyola Greyhounds (Patriot):
Record: 5-14 (3-5)
Last Week: #20 (+0)
Yeah this team doesn’t make much sense. They beat Boston University, who is one of the top two teams in the Patriot League, but then they lose to Holy Cross and American.
They should just keep playing games at Reitz Arena where they are 5-2 and 3-0 in the Patriot League.
Of note, volume shooter Andre Walker had 43 points, one point short of a Greyhound record in their win over Lafayette.
21. James Madison Dukes (CAA):
Record: 6-15 (2-6)
Last Week: #19 (-2)
In the final minute of regulation against William and Mary, the Dukes led by nine. They lost by seven in overtime.
Against Delaware they led 60-53 with three minutes to go, didn’t score another point. They lost by one in regulation.
Then it was their turn. The Dukes trailed Elon by seven with 56 sec left, then forced overtime and won.
Is the monkey off their back from the final two minutes?
22. Longwood Lancers (Big South):
Record: 6-15 (3-5)
Last Week: #26 (+4)
Just when I mention they cannot win on the road, they go and get the biggest surprise road win in the Big South, beating Liberty. They got to the free throw line 22 times and Isaiah Walton led all scorers with 22 points in a low scoring game.
Going through one of their toughest stretches in conference play, they still have Winthrop coming to Farmville. They do make a slight climb in the rankings but a 20-point loss at home to High Point does hurt.
23. VMI Keydets (SoCon):
Record: 6-12 (1-6)
Last Week: #22 (-1)
The Keydets played the five best teams in the Southern Conference to start conference play. All five were losses and they finally got a break with two winnable home games against Mercer (lost by six) and the Citadel (which they won by seven).
Already the team has matched their win total from a season ago with 11 games left in the season
24. Howard Bison (MEAC):
Record: 5-17 (2-4)
Last Week: #27 (+3)
Howard is not a good team, but they are better than their record indicates. That showed in their unpredictable road upset over N.C. Central. Charles Williams scored 25 points and eight of the team’s 10 points in an overtime period.
That was then showed again beating NC A&T at home. R.J. Cole (freshman) and Charles Williams (sophomore) combined for 45 points to knock off the Aggies in overtime.
These also will not be the only win Howard pulls off this conference play. All four losses in MEAC play are by an average of 4.25 points a game, including losing by three and one point on two road matches.
25. Maryland-Eastern Shore Hawks (MEAC):
Record: 5-16 (1-6)
Last Week: #24 (-1)
A blowout at Savannah State and a close loss at South Carolina State seems to end the promising run the Hawks were on to start conference play.
But then they go and lose to NC Central by three?
26. Coppin State (MEAC):
Record: 2-19 (2-4)
Last Week: #28 (+2)
It makes no sense that Coppin State beat Morgan State. Three players for the Eagles scored more than twenty. Morgan Lamar had 24 points, and Chad Andrews-Fulton (21) and Karonn Davis (22) both set career-highs. Never place any bets on rivalry games.
27. Hampton Pirates (MEAC):
Record: 7-12 (2-2)
Last Week: #25 (-2)
If you need a win, playing Delaware State appears to be the squad you want to come to town. Pirates got back in the win column after losing six of their previous seven.
One benefit for them too is that they only have played four games so far.
28. Norfolk State Spartans (MEAC):
Record: 4-16 (2-3)
Last Week: #23 (-3)
Yeah a loss to a Division II Elizabeth City State team, at home, is not going to give you any favors.
Welcome to the basement of the rankings, featuring the MEAC. It does not make much of a difference that the Spartans beat South Carolina State.
And to think they started the year at No. 13 in these rankings
29. Delaware State Hornets (MEAC):
Record: 2-20 (0-7)
Last Week: #29 (+0)
A heartbreaker against Florida A&M, falling on the road to the Rattlers 94-89 in double overtime leaves the Hornets still waiting on their first Division I victory.