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2019 Mid-Atlantic college hoops preseason power rankings

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2019 Mid-Atlantic college hoops preseason power rankings

Already, it is college basketball time. The season tips off again on the first Tuesday of November, less than a week after the World Series. 

Of course, only true college basketball junkies are really invested this early in the season. But with the new year, there is always hope for every program in America to make the dance in March. 

Last year six of the 29 teams in the Virginia, Maryland, Washington D.C. and Delaware area made it to the NCAA Tournament. Virginia won it all for the first time in program history with perhaps the biggest comeback tale in sports history.

This season the region could go six-deep, maybe even seven or eight if some conference championships pan out the right way. And at the top, there are several teams that will make this season exciting to watch.

Maryland and Virginia are legitimate national championship contenders. VCU is back to form as a mid-major power. Georgetown could be a darkhorse team to key an eye on.

It all tips-off on Tuesday. Don't miss the Champions Classic as No. 3 Kansas plays No. 4 Duke and No. 1 Michigan State plays No. 2 Kentucky. 

Mid-Atlantic matchup to watch: 

No. 11 Virginia at Syracuse - Wednesday, Nov. 6 at 9:00 on the ACC Network

Mid-Atlantic Power Rankings

1. Maryland Terrapins (Big Ten):
Last Season: 23-11 (13-7)
Last Week: N/A

The Terrapins figure to be a strong, even national championship-contending, squad this year. Starting the year off ranked No. 7 in the Associated Press poll gives them footing on the national scene for the first time since 2015. 

Senior Anthony Cowan Jr. will headline a young group of talented sophomores and freshmen. Cowan, along with forward Jalen Smith were named to the player of the year watch list and will be similar to the one-two punch Cowan and Bruno Fernando supplied a season ago.

It will be a big season for Mark Turgeon's crew with a fanbase looking for answers. Last year they finished in the NCAA Tournament's Second Round. Expectations this year will have that performance as the team's potential floor.  

2. Virginia Cavaliers (ACC):
Last Season: 35-3 (16-2)

Last Week: N/A

A lot of change for the National Champions as the top three figures in the program were drafted into the NBA. Their returning crop of players will be featured around guard Kihei Clark and forward Mamadi Diakite, who only averaged 11 points combined last season. Diakite, who saw impressive spurts a year ago, is on the list of 50 players to watch for the player of the year honor, the Naismith Trophy.

Certainly, there will be a drop off for Virginia in a loaded ACC. Duke, North Carolina and Louisville are all projected to be atop the league with national championship aspirations. Still, they have Tony Bennett at the helm and you can never count his squads out. He has coached Virginia to eight straight top-five finishes in the ACC.

Unfortunately for Virginia, they will not have the services of Marquette transfer Sam Hauser this season. He will sit the 2019-20 season and play his final season of eligibility next year.

A big game right out of the gates for the Cavaliers too. They travel to Syracuse for a season-opening ACC matchup. 

3. VCU Rams (A-10):
Last Season: 25-8 (16-2)
Last Week: N/A

Last year was expected to be a resurgent season for VCU. Without a doubt, they exceeded expectations by winning the Atlantic 10 regular-season title and going an impressive 16-2 in the conference to earn a tournament bid.

Marcus Evans was phenomenal in his first season with the team returning from a major Achilles injury. He was a first-team performer with 13.6 points, 3.2 assists and 1.6 steals a game. 

In addition to returning Evans, they also bring back their next five highest scorers on the roster. 

This season the Atlantic 10 will a far improvement over last year. VCU is a favorite to win there and should be one of the top mid-majors in the country. As several schools will find out this season: you don't want to go to war with the Rams. 

4. Georgetown Hoyas (Big East):
Last Season: 19-14 (9-9)
Last Week: N/A

Graduating Jessie Govan will leave a huge hole for N.C. State transfer Omer Yurtseven to fill in the early going for the Hoyas. But, if there is anything Patrick Ewing has shown to be capable of while at Georgetown, it is to build up big men. Yurtseven could very well be a top-five post player in the Big East, and like Govan last season, Georgetown will ride through him.

The Hoyas still have Mac McClung, Jahvon Blair, and James Akinjo running their backcourt on a team that might have the ability to break through and contend for an NCAA Tournament bid. This year, they finally have a schedule formidable enough for them to make a surge.

To start, they'll look to have an easy 2-0 start with a fellow Mid-Atlantic program, Mount St. Mary's and Central Arkansas. 

5. Liberty Flames (Atlantic Sun):
Last Season: 29-7 (14-2)
Last Week: N/A

The Flames cracking the initial top-5 of the season may be a shock for some. But for those hailing from Southwest, VA it is not too surprising. 

Liberty is good, but they do not conform to the modern style of college basketball. Their slow tempo offense under the direction of Ritchie McKay got them into last year's NCAA Tournament. They upset Mississippi State to make it to the Second Round for the first time in program history.

Returning five of the top six players from that tournament roster will have them a hot team out of the gates. This includes arguably the two best players in the Atlantic Sun in guard Caleb Homesley and forward Scottie James.

The Flames might not have a tough opponent until mid-December. 

6. George Mason Patriots (A-10):
Last Season: 18-15 (11-7)
Last Week: N/A

Not having their top returning scorer Justin Kier to start the season will hurt the Patriots in nonconference play. They bring back a good amount of experience, returning four of their starters and will be right in the middle of a crowded A10. The year starts against Navy at home on Tuesday, Nov. 5.

7. Old Dominion Monarchs (C-USA):
Last Season: 26-9 (13-5)
Last Week: N/A

Losing B.J. Stith and Ahmad Carver takes away over 34 points of offense per game. They'll still be competitive in Conference-USA as Xavier Green is sure to step up. A question mark on this team will be how Clemson transfer A.J. Oliver II figures to have an impact.

8. Virginia Tech Hokies (ACC):
Last Season: 26-9 (12-6)
Last Week: N/A

Last year was a great season in the history of Virginia Tech basketball. The Hokies finished fifth in the ACC, made the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament and had Nickeil Alexander-Walker drafted into the NBA.

Then it all flipped. Head coach Buzz Williams leaves for Texas A&M. Kerry Blackshear Jr. transferred to Florida.

Rebuild time in Blacksburg.

9. UMBC Retrievers (A-East):
Last Season: 21-13 (11-5)
Last Week: N/A

The top threat to Vermont in the America East Conference. Ryan Odom has done an incredible job in the first year since their miraculous upset. Three starters come back to the Retrievers that could slip into the glass slipper again. 

10. Richmond Spiders (A-10):
Last Season: 13-20 (6-12)
Last Week: N/A

A great guard-forward combo will move Richmond up the A-10 board this season. Jacob Gilyard and Grant Golden will be in contention for all-league honors at the end of the season and could steal them some wins against quality opposition. 

11. Radford Highlanders (Big South):
Last Season: 22-11 (12-4)
Last Week: N/A

Losing Ed Polite Jr. is huge, but still, they are the favorites to win the Big South. It's Carlik Jones time now. 

12. Delaware Blue Hens (CAA):
Last Season: 17-16 (8-10)
Last Week: N/A

13. American Eagles (Patriot):
Last Season: 15-15 (9-9)
Last Week: N/A

14. George Washington Colonials (A-10):
Last Season: 9-24 (4-14)
Last Week: N/A

15. James Madison Dukes (CAA):
Last Season: 14-19 (6-12)
Last Week: N/A

16. Hampton Pirates (Big South):
Last Season: 18-17 (9-7)
Last Week: N/A

17. Loyola Greyhounds (Patriot):
Last Season: 11-21 (7-11)
Last Week: N/A

18. William & Mary Tribe (CAA):
Record: 14-17 (10-8)
Last Week: N/A

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.

19. Towson Tigers (CAA):
Record: 10-22 (6-12)
Last Week: N/A

20. Norfolk State Spartans (MEAC):
Last Season: 22-14 (14-2)
Last Week: N/A

21. Longwood Lancers (Big South):
Last Season: 16-18 (5-11)
Last Week: N/A

22. Navy Midshipmen (Patriot):
Last Season: 12-19 (8-10)
Last Week: N/A

23. Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers (NEC):
Last Season: 9-22 (6-12)
Last Week: N/A

There's a player to watch out for at the Mount: Vado Morse. The NEC Rookie of the Year should have another big year.

24. Howard Bison (MEAC):
Last Season: 17-17 (10-6)
Last Week: N/A

25. Morgan State Bears (MEAC):
Last Season: 9-21 (4-12)
Last Week: N/A

26. Coppin State (MEAC):
Last Season: 8-25 (7-9)
Last Week: N/A

27. VMI Keydets (SoCon):
Last Season: 11-21 (4-14)
Last Week: N/A

28. Maryland-Eastern Shore Hawks (MEAC):
Last Season: 7-25 (5-11)
Last Week: N/A

29. Delaware State Hornets (MEAC):
Last Season: 6-25 (2-14)
Last Week: N/A

MORE NCAA NEWS: 

Wolfpack overcomes 10-minute scoring drought to top Virginia

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Wolfpack overcomes 10-minute scoring drought to top Virginia

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- D.J. Funderburk scored 14 points before fouling out and North Carolina State overcame a second-half scoring drought of more than 10 minutes in a 53-51 victory against Virginia on Monday night.

C.J. Bryce added 13 points for the Wolfpack (14-5, 5-3 Atlantic Coast Conference), including a jumper with 27 seconds left after allowing the shot clock to race to near 0:00. The victory ended an eight-game losing streak against the Cavaliers.

Viginia (12-6, 4-4) used a 15-0 run during the N.C. State scoring drought that lasted 10:13 to take a 46-42 lead, bringing the crowd at John Paul Jones Arena back into the game. But Jericole Hellems hit a 3-pointer for N.C. State with 3:38 left and, after a free throw by Mamadi Diakite for Virginia, Markell Johnson hit a 3-pointer and then Hellems' putback gave the Wolfpack a 50-47 lead.

Johnson and Bryce both missed the front end of one-and-one free throw opportunities, and Kihei Clark hit a pair for Virginia. Braxton Beverly made the first and missed the second for the Wolfpack with 7.2 seconds left, and the Cavaliers Casey Morsell was short on a contested 3 at the buzzer.

Clark led Virginia with 10 points, seven rebounds and five assists.

The Wolfpack had used an 8-0 run to go ahead 42-31. Virginia helped out by going scoreless for more than 6 1/2 minutes. Francisco Caffaro, who had just been inserted into the game, ended the drought with 11:13 left.

BIG PICTURE

N.C. State: The Wolfpack seemed on their way to a solid victory until the drought, during which they were 1 for 8 from the field with five turnovers and repeatedly let the shot clock run down into single digits, forcing bad shots.

Virginia: In the Cavaliers' continuing search for scoring help, freshman Casey Morsell had as many as three field goals for the first time since a 65-56 victory against Navy on Dec. 29. He was 4 for 20 from the field in his last five games. He finished the night 4 for 9 and his buzzer-beater attempt was closely guarded.

UP NEXT

The Wolfpack remains on the road and plays at Georgia Tech on Saturday.

The Cavaliers go on the road and play at Wake Forest on Sunday.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

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Virginia snaps 3-game losing streak with 63-58 win over Georgia Tech

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Virginia snaps 3-game losing streak with 63-58 win over Georgia Tech

ATLANTA (AP) -- Jay Huff and Mamadi Diakite scored 17 points apiece as defending national champion Virginia snapped a three-game losing streak with a 63-58 win over Georgia Tech on Saturday night.

The Cavaliers (12-5, 4-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) finally regained their winning touch after dropping out of The Associated Press ranking for the first time since November 2017.

Georgia Tech (8-10, 3-5) lost its fourth straight home game. The Yellow Jackets haven't won at McCamish Pavilion since a Dec. 4 victory over Nebraska. 

Diakite's dunk with 14:47 remaining gave Virginia its biggest lead, 43-29.

The Cavaliers were still up 48-37 with just over 10 minutes to go when Georgia Tech suddenly came to life offensively.

The Yellow Jackets scored on four of five possessions, stringing together a 9-0 run that cut Virginia's edge to 48-46.

That was as close as Georgia Tech would get.

Huff, a 7-foot-1 center, knocked down a 3-pointer from the top of the key to thwart Georgia Tech's momentum. A few minutes later, he swished another open jumper to make it 55-48. 

Georgia Tech got a basket and a defensive stop, but Braxton Key swooped on for an offensive rebound to give the Cavaliers a second chance. With just over 2 minutes to go, Diakite was left open on the wing for a jumper that made it 57-50, effectively finishing off the Yellow Jackets.

Jose Alvarado paced Georgia Tech with 20 points.

Virginia led 33-25 at halftime, taking advantage of the home team's sloppy play. The Yellow Jackets hit 11 of 18 shots (61.1%) but turned it over 13 times, wasting far too many possessions against the defensive-minded Cavaliers.

BIG PICTURE

Virginia: The Cavaliers picked up a desperately needed victory to avoid their longest losing streak since a four-game skid from Feb. 12-20, 2017. While still a far cry from their national championship squad, Virginia showed some offensive efficiency to go along with its always-tenacious defense. Key chipped in with 10 points. 

Georgia Tech: This is shaping up to be another disappointing season, raising more doubts about whether coach Josh Pastner can turn around a program that is approaching a decade since its last NCAA Tournament appearance. The Yellow Jackets continue to show flashes of promise, but Pastner has been unable to develop any sort of consistency in his fourth season. 

UP NEXT

Virginia: Returns home to play North Carolina State on Monday night. 

Georgia Tech: Hits the road for the first of two meetings against No. 11 Louisville. The teams will meet again in Atlanta on March 7, the final game of the regular season. 

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