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2019 Mid-Atlantic college hoops power rankings: Virginia is back where they left off

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2019 Mid-Atlantic college hoops power rankings: Virginia is back where they left off

Entering Week 3 of the college basketball season we've already seen it all. 

The No. 1 team in the country has gone down twice. Michigan State lost to Kentucky, moving the Wildcats to the top spot. Then Kentucky proceeded to lose to a team that no one could name their mascot outside of the state of Indiana.

Conference play also started in the ACC before going on a hiatus until December, much to Jim Boeheim's disdain.  

Despite all the concerns that several pundits had on defending national champions, Virginia, there are no worries in Charlottesville. The Cavaliers defensive approach is just as dominant as ever. Still early, but they're holding opponents to a sub-40 point average.

Virginia Tech also looks legit even though everyone departed out of Blacksburg. Dan Fischer is also off to a fast start at William and Mary. 

Now attention will begin to shift to the preseason conference tournaments. All local teams will partake in at least one before the end of the calendar year. 

Mid-Atlantic matchups to watch: 

Vermont vs. Virginia - Tuesday, Nov. 19 at 7:00 p.m. on ACC Regional Networks
UMBC vs. LSU - Tuesday, Nov. 19 at 7:00 on ESPN+
George Mason vs. Maryland - Friday, Nov. 22 at 7:00 p.m. on Big Ten Network
Virginia Tech vs. Michigan State (Maui Invitational) - Monday, Nov. 25 at 5:00 p.m. on ESPN2
VCU vs. Purdue (Emerald Coast Classic) - Friday, Nov. 29 at 9:30 p.m. on CBS Sports Network

Mid-Atlantic Power Rankings

1. Virginia Cavaliers (ACC):
Record: 3-0 (1-0)

Last Week: #2

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Virginia defensively dominated Syracuse, holding them to 34 points. The Orange shot 24% from the floor and 18% from behind the arc.

They replicated that against James Madison, holding them to 34 points as well, and Columbia.

It won't be pretty basketball again in Charlottesville, but they'll still be good. The lone returning starter from last year's championship squad, Kihei Clark nearly messed around and had a triple-double. Ten points, 11 rebounds and seven assists led the way in the season opener. 

But Mamadi Diakite is averaging 13.7 points and 9.0 rebounds through three games for the Cavs. He and dunking sensation Jay Huff will be a powerful duo to watch in the post. 

They might have not been in the national championship conversation at the start of the season. That tune has quickly changed with how ahead the Cavaliers appear to be.

They'll be in the Air Force Reserve Tip-Off Tournament for the next two weeks. 

2. Maryland Terrapins (Big Ten):
Record: 3-0
Last Week: #1 (-1)

Turnovers have racked up for an experienced Terrapins squad to start the season, averaging over 12 per game. Fortunately for them, it hasn't cost Maryland yet as they are countering by forcing opponents to turn it over 17 times each night. And unlike other top-tier teams in the country, they've managed to win all their games. 

While there were some bumps in the first two games, their win against Oakland was their first convincing win from the opening tip. 

The offense has been incredibly balanced so far as five players are averaging double figures. At least that is in terms of scoring in the paint. No one has lit it up from deep despite the shooting ability of Anthony Cowan Jr., Aaron Wiggins and others. 

A light schedule has benefited them so far but it will pick up once they go to the Orlando Invitational with Temple, Texas A&M and Harvard.

3. VCU Rams (A-10):
Record: 4-0
Last Week: #3 (N/A)

Beating former head coach Will Wade and his ranked LSU Tigers was quite the early season victory for VCU. They were clearly ready, forcing 26 LSU turnovers, and their fans were more than ready for Wade and the trolling that ensued

Attention, and rightfully so, has been on Marcus Evans and his ability to lead the Rams deep into the season again. But Marcus Santos Silva has dominated the opposition by averaging a double-double with 12.8 points and 10.8 rebounds.

The Rams are looking great and have another huge benchmark within the next couple of weeks when they head to the Emerald Coast Classic. They'll play Purdue and either Florida State or Tennessee. 

They're the class of the Atlantic 10 this season and are shaping up to have a pretty big season. 

4. Georgetown Hoyas (Big East):
Record: 3-1
Last Week: #4 (N/A)

The Hoyas have not looked convincing so far. In both their Mount St. Mary's and Georgia State victories they trailed at some point in the second half. Games that the Hoyas should not be trailing in.

Results in terms of wins and losses were what is to be expected with their 3-1 record. 

Their rebounding ability, with two players 6-8 or higher, has ultimately pulled them back ahead in all of their wins. 

They will have to step up their 3-point game as well. Only making less than six 3-pointers a game, they've become one-dimensional and that will not set them up for success in the Big East. 

5. Liberty Flames (Atlantic Sun):
Record: 4-0
Last Week: #5 (N/A)

Liberty is a tough team to gauge through the first two weeks of the season. Their stars are still performing at a high level and their style is still holding teams to under 60 points. 

Yet, their wins aside from South Carolina State have not been impressive. Radford, their biggest rival, is their best opponent so far and it was close.

If they keep winning it will still be tough to tell how great the Flames are. If they lose at all before their road contest at Grand Canyon that will be a different story. 

6. Virginia Tech Hokies (ACC):
Record: 4-0 (1-0)
Last Week: #8 (+2)

A great start to the Mike Young era by an opening night victory over Clemson. First, they couldn't really ask for a better opponent when the ACC decided to start the season with a conference game for each school. Clemson lost four of their starters from last season and Young, Wofford's former head coach, is quite familiar with the Tigers.  

Redshirt freshman Landers Nolley II debuted with 30 points and P.J. Horne had eight points and seven rebounds. 

Nolley did it again against Lehigh with seven 3-pointers.

Virginia Tech might not have as drastic of a rebuild as originally thought. 

7. George Mason Patriots (A-10):
Record: 4-0
Last Week: #6 (-1)

It is not like the Patriots are beating the creme de la crop in their 4-0 start, but they are doing it without their best player on the court in Justin Kier. Right now they are tied for the best start in program history and could easily get that with Loyola (MD).

After that, No. 7 Maryland. Then the Cayman Islands Classic. We'll learn who these Patriots are real quick.

There are some exciting athletes in Fairfax to keep an eye on in A.J. Wilson and freshman Xavier Johnson. A lot of potential on George Mason

8. Old Dominion Monarchs (C-USA):
Record: 3-1
Last Week: #7 (-1)

Old Dominion is traveling through the old CAA during this stretch of their schedule. Monarchs played Northeastern, now have James Madison, George Mason, William & Mary and VCU up within the next three weeks. Doesn't everyone miss the good 'ole days of the CAA?

Through their 3-1 start, Jeff Jones earned his 500th career win which is 25th among active coaches. Redshirt Junior Xavier Green is also off to a phenomenal start for Old Dominion with a C-USA Player of the Week award and a 16.5 ppg mark through four games. 

9. UMBC Retrievers (A-East):
Record: 4-0
Last Week: #9 (N/A)

The Retrievers have only played one Division I opponent after two weeks. The rest were Division II and III no contest victories. Still, in the one D-1 game, they had an impressive road comeback to beat Florida Gulf Coast. L.J. Owens nailed a 3-pointer with 17 seconds remaining to complete the turnaround. 

But they did get a hat tip from Evansville after the Aces upset Kentucky. 

More competition to properly gauge UMBC upcoming as they travel to previously ranked LSU and head to the Jamaica Classic.

10. Richmond Spiders (A-10):
Record: 3-0
Last Week: #10

An overtime win over Vanderbilt has many turning heads and changing their expectations for the Spiders this season. Also, two guards Jacob Gilyard and Nick Sherod averaging 22 points a contest will turn heads too.

Sherod, coming off an ACL injury last November, has already claimed one A-10 Co-Player of the Week honor after his 27 points in the opener against St. Francis. 

11. Delaware Blue Hens (CAA):
Record: 5-0
Last Week: #12 (+1)

What a start for Nate Darling and the undefeated Blue Hens. At 5-0, Delaware is currently in its third-best start in team history and their most wins to start a season in over two decades. Darling is pacing them as he is averaging 26 ppg including a 37 point game vs. UTSA.

12. William & Mary Tribe (CAA):
Record: 4-1
Last Week: #18 (+6)

A great start in the Dane Fischer era of Tribe basketball. Their 4-1 record's only blemish is a five-point road loss to Oklahoma - which they led during the second half. Andy Van Vliet also had a notable performance against Hampton with 22 points, 12 rebounds on 10-of-13 shots

Several changes for the Tribe in a program that does not change too often. Dane Fischer is the new head coach now and inherits a squad that averaged 23 3-point attempts per game.

13. James Madison Dukes (CAA):
Record: 2-2
Last Week: #15 (+2)

14. Radford Highlanders (Big South):
Record: 1-2
Last Week: #11 (-3)

15. Towson Tigers (CAA):
Record: 2-2
Last Week: #19 (+4)

16. American Eagles (Patriot):
Record: 1-3
Last Week: #13 (-3)

17. Hampton Pirates (Big South):
Record: 2-1
Last Week: #16 (+1)

18. Loyola Greyhounds (Patriot):
Record: 2-2
Last Week: #17 (+1)

19. Norfolk State Spartans (MEAC):
Record: 3-1
Last Week: #20 (+1)

20. Longwood Lancers (Big South):
Record: 4-1
Last Week: #21 (+1)

21. Navy Midshipmen (Patriot):
Record: 2-1
Last Week: #22 (+1)

22. George Washington Colonials (A-10):
Record: 1-3
Last Week: #14 (-8)

A rough start to the Jamion Christian era for the Colonials. Losses to Towson, American and Morgan State have put George Washington behind the eight ball. The good news is they were all at least close and Arnaldo Toro had 22 points and 18 rebounds in a win over Howard.

23. Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers (NEC):
Record: 1-3
Last Week: #23 (N/A)

The results are not quite there for the Mountaineers, but they have given both Georgetown and Washington a scare.

24. Coppin State (MEAC):
Last Season: 1-4
Last Week: #26 (+2)

Juan Dixon's Coppin State Eagles knocked off Loyola Chicago for his biggest win since taking over the helm in 2017. It is the program's first win over a Division I opponent not in the MEAC since 2013. 

25. Morgan State Bears (MEAC):
Record: 2-2
Last Week: #25 (N/A)

Kevin Broadus looking great as the new head coach of Morgan State. The former Maryland assistant has the Bears 2-2 with a win over the Atlantic 10's George Washington.

26. VMI Keydets (SoCon):
Record: 1-5
Last Week: #27 (+1)

27. Howard Bison (MEAC):
Record: 0-5
Last Week: #24 (-3)

28. Maryland-Eastern Shore Hawks (MEAC):
Record: 0-4
Last Week: #28 (N/A)

29. Delaware State Hornets (MEAC):
Record: 0-4
Last Week: #29 (N/A)

This date in tournament history: Juan Dixon drops 33 to carry Terps over Kansas and into the national championship

This date in tournament history: Juan Dixon drops 33 to carry Terps over Kansas and into the national championship

The 2002 Maryland men's basketball team will stand the test of time, thanks in large part to the heroics of Juan Dixon.

The Terps got back to the Final Four in 2002 a year after being eliminated by Duke in a game where Maryland lead by as much as 22.

Gary Williams' squad entered March Madness with a No. 1 seed, coasting to the Final Four after taking down (16) Siena, (8) Wisconsin, (4) Kentucky, and (2) Connecticut.

After winning the East Regional, the Terps traveled to Atlanta, where they would face the winner the Midwest Regional, the (1) Kansas Jayhawks.

Clinging to a five-point lead with 1:14 to play in regulation, Dixon (33 points) converted on a baseline jumper to increase the Maryland lead to 7.

Steve Blake (8 points, 11 assists) converted one of his two free throws with 39 seconds to play to give the Terps an eight-point cushion.

Kansas star and current Wizards' analyst Drew Gooden (15 points, 9 rebounds) cut the lead to four with 19.8 seconds in regulation, but the Jayhawks wouldn't regain any further traction.

After a series of free throws, the Terps were able to dribble out the clock, penciling in a date with the Indiana Hoosiers, and heading to the final for the first time in school history.

"It will be a tough game," Dixon said of their upcoming matchup with Indiana. "This is our year, and hopefully we come ready Monday night."

They were more than ready.

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Mike Locksley and Terrapins coaching staff try to keep team together during coronavirus pandemic

Mike Locksley and Terrapins coaching staff try to keep team together during coronavirus pandemic

No spring football games, no practices, no recruiting visits, and believe it or not, less time in the day.  

That is the current reality for Maryland’s head football coach, Mike Locksley. Not the easiest of circumstances to try and run a rebuilding football program in the Big 10. 
 
“Man, it’s been tough. I usually get up and get a little work out in. I’ve got an in-home gym where I can just do something to get moving,” Locksley said. “I’m kind of like a kid where if I get off schedule, I’m not very good… I get up, I get dressed. I don’t play around in my pajamas or shorts and a t-shirt.” 

Technically, the team has been on spring break this week, so there would have been no meetings in this first full week of quarantine.  But the staff has been busier than ever preparing for what life will look like when online classes begin on Monday. That is when the coaching staff will try to create some form of normalcy for their players.   

“We get eight hours a week to virtually meet with our players, so we’re working hard on developing the football intelligence that it takes using all the technology we have,” Locksley said.  

In normal times, only two hours a week would be allowed for film work or walkthroughs. The other six would be focused on strength training. These are far from normal times so this is where accountability comes into play. What they do now will pay off during the Big 10 season in the fall.   

“I think this is where you’ll see the biggest strides in the game for our programs, what these guys do when nobody is around and nobody is watching them,” Locksley said. “We always talk about being the best version of yourself and this gives our players the opportunity to do that without coaches there.”  

But it certainly makes it challenging to evaluate and develop players on a team that has much to improve upon finishing last season 3-9.  All 15 spring practices have been canceled, but Locksley says the Terrapins are focused on finding solutions for when the team is allowed back together, not excuses.  

“There’s no substitute for being able to go out and practice and if we can’t physically develop them, we need to mentally develop them,” Locksley said. “A lot of football success is about making the right decisions. That’s where teaching, the installs, and the mental conditioning will help develop our team.”  

So how do you get everyone in alignment during a time of pandemic?  First off, by staying up to date as best you can while staying home.   

“It makes you have to stay on the cutting edge of technology,” Locksley said with a chuckle. “I had never heard of a Zoom meeting until about a week ago.” 

Few of us had! Of course we’re all well aware now. Working from home has become the new norm and that was the way this interview was conducted. And it will play an even bigger role as Locksley and his staff look to continue the recruiting process for the class of 2021.   

Fortunately, most recruits had already visited campus before school was shut down, but coaches are now using FaceTime, making countless phone calls, and using social media to connect with prospective future Terps. The coaching staff meets via video conference every day at 10:30 a.m., position coaches check in with their players daily and the staff reconvenes in the afternoon for updates.  

It’s a time none of us could have expected and no one can predict when it will end. But there’s still work to be done.   

“It’s about finding ways to improve yourself, not use this as an excuse for what’s to come,” Locksley said. “I think the strides we make now will determine what happens in the fall - if we are able to play football.” 

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