Not much to report this week from the area’s men’s college basketball programs.
The biggest question we face, and so do many bracketologists, is what to do with the Maryland Terrapins. Against two of the best in the country, the Terps held their own in perhaps their two best games of the season.
All it did for these rankings is lock them down as the No. 3 team. They are far away from second, but just as far away from fourth.
More dangerous teams near the middle of conferences are starting to show why no one wants to face them come postseason time. Right now, the list includes Virginia Tech, George Mason, Liberty, UMBC, Delaware, Loyola (MD), and now Howard.
Speaking of the Bison, they moved out of the MEAC basement. Now only five teams are sitting at the bottom from the MEAC.
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These rankings are based on scores as of Thursday, February 1st 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: 21-1 (10-0)
Last Week: #1 (+0)
The Cavaliers have not been ranked No. 1 in 35 years and right now they are the closest they have been. In the latest AP Poll, Virginia receiving 17 first-place votes to gain on Villanova’s claim to the top spot in the country.
This week was perhaps the most impressive two-game span any team has had since feast week. Keeping then-No. 18 Clemson to only 36 points in a top-25 clash in Charlottesville and shocking the Blue Devils on Tobacco Road.
While the Wooden Award candidate Marvin Bagley III had 30 points, the rest of the Cavalier defense kept the rest of the roster to 33 points. Four players for UVA had 12-points or more, led by 17 from Kyle Guy.
A No. 1 seed in the NCAA and ACC tournament is all theirs as long as they have no surprises the rest of the way. Virginia is 2.5 games ahead of both Louisville and Duke for the top spot in the league and no more ranked opponents left on their schedule. They remain the top defensive team in the country by over four points, holding teams to 52.1 ppg.
2. Virginia Tech Hokies (ACC):
Record: 16-6 (5-4)
Last Week: #2 (+0)
After their upset win over the ranked Tar Heels, the Hokies held par and avoided an hangover by beating Notre Dame on the road.
The high-powered offense delivered a 51 percent shooting performance and an even better 56 percent from deep to hit 14 triples. Four of those came from Justin Bibbs (20 points, five assists), making all of his three-point attempts. Chris Clarke came off of the bench for a double-double (12 points, 14 rebounds) in 30 minutes of action for the junior.
Surprisingly, even with their rough start to conference play, they are only one loss away from second place and a double bye in the ACC Tournament. The Hokies magic number in ACC play is probably 11 wins to take them to the big dance and a win in the conference tournament will also help.
Hosting Miami and NC State at Cassell Coliseum is a matchup that could also push them to the green side of the bubble this Saturday and Wednesday.
3. Maryland Terrapins (Big Ten):
Record: 15-9 (4-7)
Last Week: #3 (+0)
Two contests this week for the Terps and it was in spirited performances against No. 6 Michigan State and No. 3 Purdue. Both games also showed how frustrating it is for Maryland in 2018.
The Terps have the talent to keep up with some of the best teams in the country, but some games they just decide not to show up. More often than not it is in the games they have to win.
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Maryland had built a 13-point lead at the break after shooting 50 percent in the opening 20 minutes against the Spartans. It had all the makings of a classic upset inside of the College Park until the Spartans used a 20-4 spurt to start the second half.
Bruno Fernando did play for 25 minutes in this game after his injury scare against Indiana. Going only 1-for-8 from the field he had four points and five boards. He followed that up with his second career double-double (20 points, 10 rebounds) against Purdue.
They are a distant third from the top two in the rankings and Old Dominion is now knocking on the door.
4. Old Dominion Monarchs (C-USA):
Record: 16-4 (7-1)
Last Week: #4 (+0)
Starting conference play with a 7-1 start has put the Monarchs on the far edge of the bubble in terms of at-large bids. During a normal year they wouldn’t be included, but as they rankings have previously alluded to, this is not a normal year in college basketball.
This week they routed the Charlotte 49ers by 22 on the road to win their 11th of their last 12 games. It all sets up a big matchup at the Ted Constant Center with the league favorite and Conference-USA leader, Middle Tennessee State (16-5, 8-1 C-USA).
Right now the Blue Raiders are No. 27 in the RPI and No. 45 in the KenPom. Old Dominion is No. 91 and No. 67 in the same metrics.
Win on Thursday and that NCAA Tournament talk isn’t that ridiculous anymore. There was an opportunity just like this, to prove their position, earlier against Western Kentucky at home, but ODU fell short in the second half.
5. VCU Rams (A-10):
Record: 14-8 (6-3)
Last Week: #5 (+0)
Three straight wins for the Rams but they have all been against three teams in the bottom half of the conference. Against the top half though, they are only 1-3 with a home win over Duquense.
Fortunately for VCU, the rest of the Atlantic 10 has been a mess and the Rams have emerged as the No. 3 team in the conference. But they start the last half of conference play against the No. 22 Rhode Island Rams at the Siegel Center.
And they have Dayton still (road loss by 27 points), Davidson still (16th most made 3pters in the country), and the borderline Bonnies.
In their two wins over Saint Louis and George Mason, their post players produced once again. Senior Justin Tillman has scored 18 points in three straight games. Khris Lane, coming off the bench, scored 10 and 25 respectively.
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6. William & Mary Tribe (CAA):
Record: 14-7 (7-3)
Last Week: #6 (+0)
No one is running away in the CAA conference, including the Tribe who dropped a road contest against Towson.
They went to overtime with the Tigers but only mustered three points in the extra period. They enjoyed a 10-point advantage at halftime, but scoured it with only 32 in the final half. In fact, in the first 20 minutes they had 47-point performance but only had a combined 35 in their last 25 minutes.
Sophomore Justin Pierce had a career-high 27 points and made five three-pointers to lead the Tribe. He brought down 14 rebounds as well for his fifth double-double of the year.
William & Mary followed this loss by squeaking out a win over the seven-win UNC-Wilmington. Pierce again led with 23 points.
7. Towson Tigers (CAA):
Record: 15-8 (5-5)
Last Week: #7 (+0)
Just when you want to jump on the Towson bandwagon once again, they put up another head scratcher.
Lets put it this way:
vs. top half of CAA: 3-2
vs. bottom half of CAA: 2-3
Yeah, that’s the resume of a team that will never jump out of the middle of the conference.
This week, they did lock up the season sweep (and tiebreaker) over William & Mary with a 96-82 overtime win. It was a career-night for sophomore Zane Martin with 35 points and 10 of those coming in the extra period.
They 35 points was the 10th most points scored by the Tigers, and the most ever at SECU Arena.
Elon then came to town and beat them in a game that will hurt the Tigers CAA Tournament seeding. The Tigers never led after 3-0 start to the game.
8. Georgetown Hoyas (Big East):
Record: 13-8 (3-7)
Last Week: #8 (+0)
Referring back to last week’s comments on the Georgetown Hoyas, they did not take care of business.
A loss against DePaul, at home, gave up perhaps their last chance to get another win in the Big East. And if that happens, DePaul will likely tie them for eighth place in the final standings.
In two straight contests, Jessie Govan has struggled. Shooting 4-for-15 from the field and averaging six points has plagued the Hoyas in the loss to DePaul and an eight-point fall at Creighton.
It did allow for freshman Jahvon Blair to have his best performance in his young career. Making five three pointers, the Ontario native led the Hoyas against the Blue Jays with 21 points.
Late in the second half, the Hoyas made it close, and got it down to one point, but were never able to take the lead.
Those NIT hopes are looking fainter and fainter. For those that still think they’ll make it in because ‘they’re Georgetown,’ you’re lucky they do not require the team to be above .500.
9. Radford Highlanders (Big South):
Record: 14-9 (7-3)
Last Week: #9 (+0)
The top 10 of the ranking may be short for the Highlanders. At home, Radford fell to Charleston Southern in overtime, one of the bottom teams in the Big South.
Despite forcing 13 steals and scoring 22 points form the line, the Highlanders kept coughing the ball up. Eleven of Radford’s 15 turnovers were by their own accord, they put Charleston Southern at the line 30 times, and got blocked seven times.
They still got the road win over High Point with four players reaching double figures and stay unchanged in the rankings because no one else picked up victories.
Again, this is not an aesthetically pleasing team to watch, but they find ways to win and keep games close. Sometimes though that bites them against lesser opponents.
10. Liberty Flames (Big South):
Record: 13-10 (4-6)
Last Week: #10 (+0)
Liberty’s win over Presbyterian ended a five game skid.
Ever since Big South play began the Flames have lost their defensive presence, especially from behind the arc. In conference teams have shot 44.5 percent from three-point land against Liberty.
Their win over Presbyterian hopefully got some confidence back from a team that was free falling in the standings. Freshman Keegan McDowell had 19 points and was 3-for-4 behind the arc to match 21 points put up by Ryan Kemrite.
This week, McDowell was named Big South freshman of the week. In the two games he shot 61.1 percent.
NIT hopes are starting to grow faint if they are unable to turn it around.
11. Navy Midshipmen (Patriot):
Record: 15-9 (6-5)
Last Week: #13 (+2)
Let’s ignore the 20-point loss at home against Bucknell and look at the two road victories at Lehigh and at American.
In the final five minutes against Lehigh, the Midshipmen gave up a nine-point lead but then scored the final five points to put the game away. Scoring four of those points, Shawn Anderson capped a strong night. He led the team from the field in points (16), rebounding (seven), assists (five), and steals (three).
Playing American a handful of nights later, the senior guard put up another 20 points with five assists, and four steals. The Midshipmen outscored the Eagles 40-21 in the final 20 minutes.
Both of the games this week have been without their starting point guard Hasan Abdullah. The team is hopeful that he will play against Colgate this Sunday.
12. Richmond Spiders (A-10):
Record: 8-13 (6-3)
Last Week: #16 (+4)
Could the Spiders actually get one of the top four spots in the Atlantic 10 tournament this season?
Richmond has won five in a row and is in a three-way tie for second place in the league, holding the tiebreaker. They only play the presumed top two teams in the conference (Rhode Island and St. Bonaventure) twice more at the midway point. If they defend home court and win one or two on the road, the Spiders will have a double-bye at Capital One Arena in March.
They just beat Davidson (again) and knocked off the surprise Duquesne Dukes in overtime. Both games being on the road.
13. UMBC Retrievers (A-East):
Record: 16-8 (7-2)
Last Week: #14 (+1)
Yes a three-game winning streak has turned this around for the Retrievers, but all three wins were to one of the bottom five teams in the conference.
Nevertheless they are back up to second in the America East, trailing only Vermont. They play the Catamounts this Saturday at home where UMBC is a perfect 11-0 on the season.
Jarius Lyles is continuing an outstanding graduate season. Against Maine he had 34 points, the fourth time he has surpassed 30 on the season. He has also scored more than 10 points in 22 of the teams 24 contests.
14. George Washington Colonials (A-10):
Record: 9-13 (2-7)
Last Week: #11 (-3)
Since their surprise home victory over Saint Joseph’s the Colonials have dropped seven out of their last eight.
This week their two losses were to two of the best teams in the conference. They lost at St. Bonaventure by 18 points and missed an opportunity, at home against Duquesne.
Every night Yuta Watanabe (14.6 ppg) is going to get 10 points a more a contest. The issue this season is getting someone else going. Watanabe is the team’s leading scorer this season, not that high of a mark from their top guy. Falling to Duquesne by two saw Patrick Steeves with 23 and three other players reach double figures.
Against the Dukes, GW put freshman guard Justin Mazzulla in the starting line-up for the first time in 2017-18. Finishing with six points and seven assists it allows head coach Maurice Joseph to experiment with him playing alongside Watanable and the two post players.
15. George Mason Patriots (A-10):
Record: 9-13 (3-6)
Last Week: #12 (-3)
A four-game skid has George Mason sitting near the bottom of the Atlantic 10. Granted, three of those games there was no chance that the Patriots were going to leave with a win.
Although it was a close final score, Mason was never really in their contest against VCU. As a team they were 4-for-20 behind the arc and gave up 22 rebounds.
Nearly the same could be said in their 16-point loss to St. Bonaventure. Besides Otis Livingston II’s 30 points, the offense was scare. For the Patriots in particular, a good indicator of their success is how many assists they end up with. Playing St. Bonaventure they had seven on 24 baskets, and playing VCU they had 10 on 23 baskets.
Big chance to get going in the positive direction playing at Richmond, at Fordham, and then hosting George Washington up next.
READ ALSO: LAST WEEK'S RANKINGS
16. Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers (NEC):
Record: 12-11 (6-4)
Last Week: #17 (+1)
Rankings (RPI and KenPom) are not doing any favors to the Mount. This week they beat LIU Brooklyn and St. Francis Brooklyn at home to move up into the top of the NEC.
Last week Junior Robinson continued to do what he does best. Taking home the NEC Co-Player of the week honor averaging 25.5 points while shooting 50 percent from the field and an incredible 63.6 from long range. He is one of only three players in the country averaging 22.0 ppg and 5.0 apg.
Pivotal matches this week at Robert Morris and hosting Saint Francis. A win or two will go a long way for the Mountaineers.
17. Delaware Blue Hens (CAA):
Record: 11-12 (4-6)
Last Week: #15 (-2)
Delaware shot 29.6 percent against College of Charleston and made only 16 baskets. Next, the shot 47.1 percent against Hofstra, but committed seven more turnovers than the Pride.
Stressing how young the team is gets pretty old, but that is the best explanation for games like they have been having in CAA play.
18. Loyola Greyhounds (Patriot):
Record: 7-15 (5-6)
Last Week: #20 (-2)
Yep, still confused. Loyola beat Lehigh on the road and Army at home, two of the top half of the conference.
At Lehigh they were down by as much at 17 and with a double-double from Andre Walker, the Greyhounds rallied. It was Walker’s first double-double of the senior’s career with 32 points and 12 rebounds. Cam Gregory would also have 18 of his 24 points come in the second half and overtime period to help Loyola.
More of the same against Army as they were down nine at the break. Holding Army to one point in the final five minutes was just enough.
This is another dangerous team in the DMV Power Rankings that you will not want to face in the first game of a conference tournament.
19. Morgan State Bears (MEAC):
Record: 8-13 (4-4)
Last Week: #18 (-1)
A shame what has happened to this Morgan State squad. They were positioned to be another stellar Bears team in the MEAC with potential for a first-round upset in the NCAA Tournament.
They just fell at home to South Carolina State by 15 points.
Its not over yet for Morgan State with a 4-4 MEAC record, but they are doing all they can to stay afloat for the rest of the season. And this collapse is happening with two of the top guys in the conference in Tiwian Kendley and Phillip Carr.
20. American Eagles (Patriot):
Record: 5-17 (2-9)
Last Week: #19 (-1)
American had amassed a 13 point lead early in the first half against Navy, but going 24 percent from the floor ended any hopes the Eagles had at an upset victory. Another losing streak for the Eagles now sitting at four games.
21. James Madison Dukes (CAA):
Record: 6-17 (2-8)
Last Week: #21 (+0)
The Dukes missed a chance to take a road win at UNCW last Thursday. Now they probably won’t get back into the win column until they face the Seahawks again a week from now.
Matt Lewis claimed his third CAA Rookie of the Week Award with 21 points and 13 points in the team’s two losses. He has reached double figures in nine straight games.
22. Howard Bison (MEAC):
Record: 6-17 (3-4)
Last Week: #24 (+2)
They’ve only played one game since the last rankings but it was a 10-point win over UMES.
It was their first road victory in MEAC play, shooting 54 percent from the field. The Bison closed out the game on a 14-4 run in a back-and-forth entertaining game from two of the bottom-dwellers in the conference.
More wins should be on the horizon for Howard. Their next four: Florida A&M, at Morgan State, Hampton, and UMES again.
23. VMI Keydets (SoCon):
Record: 7-14 (2-8)
Last Week: #23 (+0)
Kicking off a three-game road trip in the right way, the Keydets knocked off Chattanooga on Saturday.
Austin Vereen hit a lay-in with six seconds left from freshman Bubba Parham that gave VMI the win. Parham had 26 of VMI’s 70 points to go with seven assists, both being career-highs.
Although they fell to Samford, their win keeps them out of the Southern basement momentarily.
24. Longwood Lancers (Big South):
Record: 6-17 (3-7)
Last Week: #22 (-2)
The tough stretch for the Lancers ended with a blowout at home against Winthrop and dropping a three-point loss at Gardner-Webb.
Losers of four straight, the get a break traveling to Presbyterian and hosting Liberty who is still free falling.
25. Hampton Pirates (MEAC):
Record: 9-13 (4-3)
Last Week: #27 (+2)
Don’t entire jump on the Hampton has turned it around bandwagon. They did get a nice win against Bethune-Cookman, but another victory was only against Coppin State. 1
In the Cookman win it took nearly a triple-double form Jermaine Marrow to clinch the win. He had 35 points, 10 rebounds, and nine assists. The first two being career-highs.
They still hold the second-best KenPom ranking (278) in the conference.
26. Coppin State (MEAC):
Record: 4-20 (4-5)
Last Week: #26 (+0)
A positive showing for Coppin State with a three-game winning streak in the middle of MEAC play. That streak would ultimately end in the hands of Hampton by 11 as the Pirates are looking to turn it around.
27. Norfolk State Spartans (MEAC):
Record: 6-16 (4-3)
Last Week: #28 (+1)
A weekend sweep over Bethune-Cookman and Florida A&M, got the Spartans two much needed wins in conference play.
Over B-CU, they got a buzzer beater from sophomore Steven Whitley.
Is that the spark?
28. Maryland-Eastern Shore Hawks (MEAC):
Record: 5-19 (1-7)
Last Week: #25 (-3)
Losing streak is now up to seven on the Hawks after squandering opportunities against Howard and at Coppin State.
29. Delaware State Hornets (MEAC):
Record: 2-21 (0-8)
Last Week: #29 (+0)
A 17-game losing streak and the Hornets are still looking for their first Division I victory.