NCAA

DMV College Basketball Power Rankings: Missed opportunities

screen_shot_2018-02-06_at_2.16.22_pm.png
USA Today Sports Images

DMV College Basketball Power Rankings: Missed opportunities

Several teams sitting on the bubble of the NCAA Tournament have missed their opportunity to jump to the good side of the tournament line.

As such, no one is moving in or out of the bubble over the past several weeks which includes two Mid-Atlantic teams.

The same idea of missed chances can be said for the region.

Starting off, there was Virginia Tech’s home loss to Miami. Already the Hokies have a short-listed resume and a win there would have not left any hesitation in the eyes of the committee. Joining them, Old Dominion lost their chance to jump into the bubble conversation after falling to Middle Tennessee at home.

Even Delaware State missed their chance to get a Division I win over North Carolina A&T, which would have been huge in the MEAC.

Plenty of teams in the CAA have dropped contests to teams in the bottom of the standings. Going forward their push to their postseason tournament is going to be one of the more intriguing single-bid conference races in the country. Any of the favorites can lose to pretty much any team (as has been so far this season), when the dust settles, will a surprise team emerge?

Additionally, Georgetown is no longer getting blown out by ranked teams, Mount St. Mary’s is making another late-season run, and do not count out Norfolk State or Hampton in the MEAC race.

RELATED: BRACKETOLOGY ROUND-UP VT IN, UMD OUT

These rankings are based on scores as of Tuesday, February 6th 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: 22-1 (11-0)
Last Week: #1 (+0)

Not too much to report from the Cavaliers this week. Virginia’s defense smothered Syracuse to 44 points to earn their 14th straight victory on the season. The Orange only shot 30 percent and their leading scorer only had 15 points.

Only seven Cavaliers saw the court in their win but the two bench players De’Andre Hunter (15 points) and Mamdi Diakite (12 points) were two of the three leading scorers.

They lost one No. 1 overall vote in the AP Poll, but in bracketology they are a unanimous No. 1 seed and one bracket even has them as the top seed in the tournament.

Seven games left on the schedule and they have a three-game lead over the No. 2 team, Clemson.

2. Virginia Tech Hokies (ACC):
Record: 16-7 (5-5)
Last Week: #2 (+0)

Missing a golden opportunity to get a fourth quality win, the Hokies fell short at home against Miami. One of the best offenses in the country only mustered 32 points in the opening frame, allowing the Hurricanes to take a 12-point lead into the break. The Hokies would get the lead down to three once in the second half, but that was quickly countered with a three from the Canes.

Justin Robinson scored 22 points and Neil Alexander-Walker had 15, but the rest of the roster combined for 38 and did not match a 51 percent shooting night from Miami.

It has now come down to a must-win against NC State on Feb. 7 if the Hokies want to be dancing this year. After that they have Virginia, Duke (twice), Georgia Tech, Clemson, Louisville, and Miami again. If they go 3-5 to end the regular season, their fortune does not look that bright.

Virginia Tech’s lone quality wins have been against South Carolina, Ole Miss, and North Carolina. Other than a close loss to Kentucky, there is not much left on the Hokies’ resume. While they do have the opportunity to nab one in the closing weeks, they have not done much to show they can match the top half of the ACC.

3. Maryland Terrapins (Big Ten):
Record: 16-9 (5-7)
Last Week: #3 (+0)

Knocking off Wisconsin at home kept the Terps tournament hopes alive this past week. It also ended a three-game skid for Maryland.

For many though, the season ended a long time ago and the pain is continuing with the recent injury to Michal Cekovsky. The 7-1 center bruised his left heel at practice a week ago and it is unclear how long he will be out.

Yet a key stretch in the season may keep the Terps’ hopes alive. Up ahead they have Penn State, Northwestern, Nebraska, Rutgers, and Northwestern again. It would be tough to run the table during that stretch, but it could get them back fully in the bubble conversation with the Big Ten Tournament only a week following the end of that stretch.

4. Old Dominion Monarchs (C-USA):
Record: 17-5 (8-2)
Last Week: #4 (+0)

Speaking of missed opportunities, Old Dominion had a prime chance at home against the conference favorites. Battling back and forth with Middle Tennessee, the game was perhaps the best of the Conference USA regular season. However, allowing the Blue Raiders to go on a 15-4 run with five minutes to go, doomed the Monarchs as they would fall.

Ahmad Caver (13 points) and B.J. Stith (nine points) were held to 8-for-22 shooting from the floor and also gave up six turnovers. Despite 11 steals, they only had 17 points off of turnovers in the entire contest.

It does appear that this letdown will not slow down the Monarchs as they took care of business against UAB two nights later. Leading ODU in scoring both nights, Randy Haynes has developed as a strong fourth option to the offense and is more than a sharp-shooter from the corner.

The at-large conversation is completely gone for the Monarchs. Now its time to pull everything together for a run at the C-USA tournament in Frisco, Texas.

5. VCU Rams (A-10):
Record: 14-9 (6-4)
Last Week: #5 (+0)

VCU played moderately well against No. 22 Rhode Island on their home court, but that still resulted in a 13-point loss for VCU. It ended a three-game win streak but continued a 113-game sellout streak.

They simply lost the game by not doing what had gotten them wins in 2018; box out and follow every shot. VCU had only 31 rebounds against another Rams team, while allowing a 6-8 freshman to get 18 boards of his own. Justin Tillman, who dominated the post offensively and defensively had only six and Kris Lane had only four. Last week against George Mason, they had more offensive rebounds.

They try and run an up-tempo style but they still look out-gassed at this point in the season. In this game it didn’t help that they were only 8-for-24 from three-point range.

One of the top-four spots in the Atlantic 10 is still up for grabs for VCU. However, they will play all three teams they are competing against for that double bye in the conference tournament in their final eight games. Believe it or not, a lot will be determined in their city-rivalry with Richmond on Feb. 7.

RELATED: NEW AP POLL: CAVALIERS STANDING STRONG

6. William & Mary Tribe (CAA):
Record: 15-8 (8-4)
Last Week: #6 (+0)

Drexel has been a hot team in the CAA as of late and they shocked the Tribe on their home floor this past Saturday.

The same issues William & Mary have faced this season sprung up once again. Their defense cannot stop teams who match their offensive firepower and their inability to grab key rebounds.

The Dragons shot 62 percent on the Tribe’s home court, including 50 percent from deep. All five of their starters reached double figures to overtake the 26-point, nine assist performance from David Cohn.

Nathan Knight, the Tribe’s leading scorer, was held to 11 points, two rebounds, and three blocks. Not the atypical stat line for the 6-10 power forward.

7. Georgetown Hoyas (Big East):
Record: 13-9 (3-8)
Last Week: #8 (+1)

They are not exactly winning games, but the Hoyas are a lot more competitive in the Big East than they were a season ago. Georgetown took No. 6 Xavier to overtime this past week on the road.

Jessie Govan battled foul trouble throughout the night which allowed freshman Jamorko Pickett to deliver the best performance of his young career. Scoring 21 points, he only training Govan’s 23 for the Hoyas. Pickett would score seven of the final 11 points in regulation for the Hoyas.

With a four-point lead and 35 seconds to go, the Hoyas did the one thing you are not supposed to do: foul a three-point shooter. Xavier’s Trevon Bluiett hit the three and a subsequent free throw to tie the game and bring the game into extra time.

There the Musketeers won the game at the line, hitting all ten free-throws they attempted.

I’m impressed, they move up a hair in the rankings.

8. Towson Tigers (CAA):
Record: 16-9 (6-6)
Last Week: #7 (-1)

In terms of the CAA Standings, Towson grabbed a huge victory in Newark this past week. Sophomore Justin Gorham earned the start over Eddie Keith II and responded with career-highs in points (21) and rebounds (12). Pairing this with 13 second half points by Zane Martin, the Tigers came back to beat Delaware late.

But remember what this Tigers team has done in conference play. They followed a momentum-building win, with a loss at James Madison.

Martin’s 28 points, could not match the onslaught that Stuckey Mosley put on the Tigers (25 points, six rebounds, four assists). Towson was forced to play in the paint, not exactly their strength and blew an 11-point lead in the second half.

All of a sudden, the Tigers who were supposed to contend for the title are fighting to avoid the first round of the CAA tournament where the bottom four of the ten teams play. Towson is sixth in the CAA with only a one game lead over seventh. They also will be without Deshaun Morman who has played in 23 games this year.

9. Liberty Flames (Big South):
Record: 15-10 (6-6)
Last Week: #10 (+1)

Are the Flames back? Liberty welcomed conference-leading Winthrop to their home floor last Thursday and knocked them out.

While still behind in the Big South standings, the monster win put them back in the conversation and out of the first round. They have swept one of the conference favorites and are now riding on a three-game winning streak.

In their two wins this week, Scottie James has averaged 24.5 points and 9.5 rebounds. He is climbing back to the level of play he started the season with in non-conference play.

As a team they are playing better defense at the perimeter, but still are allowing Big South teams to shoot 42 percent from deep. They have a favorable last half of the conference schedule with games that will go a long way into determining their seeding.

10. Radford Highlanders (Big South):
Record: 15-10 (8-4)
Last Week: #9 (-1)

Maybe the Highlanders are not exactly ready to contend for the Big South title. Traveling to Winthrop, Radford lost by 18 points and only put up 57.

They were never in the contest and committed 20 turnovers, their highest mark on the season.

You can’t win every game by scrapping and battling it out. Some teams simply have more talent and do not have to out work the Highlanders to beat them.

But hey many Highlander fans would take a top-four finish in the Big South coming into this season.

Radford also beat Gardner-Webb behind a near double-double from Ed Polite Jr. He finished with 22 points, nine rebounds, and three steals.

11. Navy Midshipmen (Patriot):
Record: 15-10 (6-6)
Last Week: #11 (+0)

At home Navy let a big one slip against Colgate. A 28-15 run to end the game gave the Midshipmen their fourth straight loss at home.

They gave up 15 turnovers which led to 24 points for Colgate, giving the Raiders a season sweep over Navy.

Hassan Abdullah returned after missing the past two games with nine points and three assists as their starting point guard. Tom Lacey scored a team-high 13 points.

Its evident now that Navy is no more than a middle-of-the-pack team in the Patriot this season.

12. George Mason Patriots (A-10):
Record: 10-13 (4-6)
Last Week: #15 (+3)

George Mason finishes off a four-game losing streak by beating the Spiders, an opponent that Dave Paulsen has never lost to as the Patriots coach (5-0).

It was a timely victory for Mason who was tail spinning to the bottom four of the conference. It also came without their No. 2 scorer, Jaire Grayer who was dealing with a foot sprain.

Otis Livingston II did what he has done all season for the Patriots by scoring 22 points and dishing out six assists. It was the seventh time in the past ten games that Livingston has totaled 20 points or more.

Additionally, with a seven-man rotation, they had four players, three of them freshman, that brought down nine boards in the win.

13. Richmond Spiders (A-10):
Record: 8-14 (6-4)
Last Week: #12 (-1)

Missing their No. 2 player, De’Monte Buckingham, the Spiders once again fell to George Mason. It is the sixth straight loss for Richmond over the Patriots dating back to 2015.

And it was not without Nick Sherod’s lack of trying. Sherod scored a career-high 32 points and 11 rebounds in the four-point loss for the Spiders. It was one of the best single-game performances in Atlantic 10 history.

Nevertheless, Richmond still trailed for a majority of the contest. Grant Golden was held to 5-for-18 on the night and only had 10 points.

Halting their Atlantic 10 turnaround after winning five straight, Richmond is still in a three-way tie for third place. Up ahead they have the most difficult stretch of games of any team so far in conference play. They host VCU before traveling to St. Bonaventure and Rhode Island.

14. UMBC Retrievers (A-East):
Record: 16-9 (7-3)
Last Week: #13 (-1)

Eh, they were not going to be Vermont in any way shape or form, but it would have been more encouraging to see a better performance.

Jarius Lyles (27 points) scored more baskets (10) than the rest of the Golden Retrievers combined. As a team they shot 36 percent and the Catamounts were 66 percent from the field.

As an aside, Vermont is probably not going to lose again.

15. Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers (NEC):
Record: 14-11 (8-4)
Last Week: #16 (+1)

Here is the run everyone was waiting for the Mountaineers to do once again. They have now won four straight, beating teams No. 3-6 in NEC play.

As the clear second-best team in the conference, it is time to start believing in the Mount once again.

READ ALSO: LAST WEEK'S RANKINGS

16. George Washington Colonials (A-10):
Record: 9-13 (2-7)
Last Week: #14 (-2)

Similar to UMBC, the Colonials were not going to beat Davidson this past week. The Wildcats shot 45 percent from three-point range, making 13 three-pointers.

Yuta Watanabe was the only GW player to reach double-figures with 20 points.

Its now a battle between them and Fordham for last place in the Atlantic 10.

17. Delaware Blue Hens (CAA):
Record: 11-14 (4-8)
Last Week: #17 (+0)

Despite Ryan Allen’s and Ryan Daly’s best efforts, the Blue Hens dropped two close ones to Towson and Elon this past week.

Allen set a new career-high of 26 points, while Jacob Cushing came off the bench to score 19 against Elon.

Losers of six straight, there is no sign of hope in their upcoming games against Northeastern and William and Mary.

18. Morgan State Bears (MEAC):
Record: 9-14 (5-5)
Last Week: #19 (+1)

Monday night’s offensive output it what was expected from this high-powered Morgan State squad. Racking up 97 points, including 53 in the first half, the Bears ran Howard out of the gym.

Tiwian Kendley scored 27 points, 12 of those coming at the line and had six assists. Phillip Carr had 20 points, eight at the line, to go with 13 rebounds. In total the Bears got the line 31 times and made 28 of their free throw attempts.

However, with the loss at Norfolk State this week as well the Bears are running out of time to make their late season push.

19. James Madison Dukes (CAA):
Record: 7-11 (3-9)
Last Week: #21 (+2)

Shooting 62 percent from the field and Stuckey Mosley firing off 35 points, the Dukes were able to get their biggest win on the season over Towson.  In this contest, James Madison was the one erasing a lead after falling behind by 11.

A chance for them to get a little bit of a winning streak facing UNC-Wilmington and Elon this week.

20. Loyola Greyhounds (Patriot):
Record: 7-16 (5-7)
Last Week: #18 (-2)

They play Boston close on the road and then get throttled against Holy Cross at home.

Yep, we’re still confused.

21. Howard Bison (MEAC):
Record: 7-18 (4-5)
Last Week: #22 (+1)

It was a prove it sort of game for Howard when they traveled to Morgan State this week. The Bison then fell flat aside from R.J. Cole’s 30 points.

The team also got a win over Florida A&M earlier in the week with five three-pointers from Cole.

22. Hampton Pirates (MEAC):
Record: 10-14 (5-4)
Last Week: #25 (+3)

Encouraging performances against the top half of your conference will continue to help as Hampton tries to climb back in the MEAC. They fell at North Carolina A&T but then followed that up with a big win at NC Central.

Next up, Hampton has to prove they can beat the middle of the conference in the ‘Battle of the Real HU’ at Howard.

23. American Eagles (Patriot):
Record: 5-18 (2-10)
Last Week: #20 (-3)

All alone in the Patriot League basement, the Eagle have lost five straight and six of their last seven games.

24. Norfolk State Spartans (MEAC):
Record: 8-16 (6-3)
Last Week: #27 (+3)

To answer last week’s question: is the buzzer beater over Bethune-Cookman a spark? Right now the answer is yes.

Four straight victories for the Spartans, including a sweep of BC has them in contention for the final bye in the MEAC tournament.

In conference play, they have five players averaging double-figures in points and another sitting at 9.0 points per game. They are led by Nic Thomas off of the bench with 12.2.

A chance for them to keep it going too with Hampton and Delaware State up next for Norfolk State.

25. VMI Keydets (SoCon):
Record: 7-15 (2-9)
Last Week: #23 (-2)

Playing against the bigger UNC-Greensboro, VMI was out muscled against one of the best in the SoCon. They were outscored in the paint by 12, outscored on the bench by 21, and gave up 20 points off turnovers.  

26. Coppin State (MEAC):
Record: 5-21 (5-6)
Last Week: #26 (+0)

It’s rare to see a Coppin State team run an opponent out of their own gym, but that is what they did at South Carolina State this week. Their 84 points and 53 percent shooting were season-highs for the Eagles.

27. Longwood Lancers (Big South):
Record: 6-19 (3-9)
Last Week: #24 (-3)

They missed a chance at Presbyterian to end their losing streak. Now they have lost six straight and will in all likely hood finish last in the Big South conference.

28. Maryland-Eastern Shore Hawks (MEAC):
Record: 6-19 (2-8)
Last Week: #28 (-3)

The losing streak is over for the Hawks as they beat Florida A&M at home.

29. Delaware State Hornets (MEAC):
Record: 2-23 (0-10)
Last Week: #29 (+0)

The losing streak now stands at 19 games, but they barely lost to the conference leader North Carolina A&T by three points. They had three chances to get their first Division I victory of the season, but all fell short in the final seconds.

How Lamelo Ball playing in Australia factored into 5-star recruit Makur Maker’s decision to choose Howard

How Lamelo Ball playing in Australia factored into 5-star recruit Makur Maker’s decision to choose Howard

When 2020 five-star recruit Makur Maker committed to Howard University in D.C., he sent shockwaves through the entire landscape of the basketball world, becoming the first top recruit to announce his intent to play at a historically Black college or university (HBCU) since Earl Jones played for the University of the District of Columbia in 1980.

While the decision was intricate and monumental on a multitude of levels, Maker revealed an interesting layer of his decision-making process:

He thought of future NBA lottery pick LaMelo Ball.

"I figured if LaMelo Ball could go to Australia, play in facilities like that, and still be considered a top NBA prospect, why not Howard?" Maker said.

Ball's path to the draft very well may be one of the most remarkable in sports history. Fast-forwarding to his final season at SPIRE, Ball was not eligible to attend college, therefore he agreed to a deal with the Illawarra Hawks in Australia to play in the NBL. 

RELATED: HOWARD FINALIST FOR 2021 FIVE STAR DEFENSIVE END

The decision was heavily scrutinized nationally with many believing it would drastically decrease his draft stock -- one disclosed scout told USA Today “the untraditional route (NBL) will almost certainly cost him (LaMelo) once draft night approaches."

After averaging 17.0 points, 6.8 assists, and 7.4 rebounds in the NBL and having his season cut short due to a bone bruise in his left foot, Ball is in the conversation to go the number one overall in the upcoming draft.

Point made. 

"People also sleep on the competitive nature of the MEAC [Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference]," Maker said. "The pace and open flow style of play of the MEAC is more similar to the NBA, in my opinion. It’s a read-and-react league, so it will definitely help me get ready for the NBA."

Former head coach and NBC Sports Washington basketball analyst Jimmy Patsos, believes in Makers' decision and thinks it could spark a huge movement within college basketball. 

"If one person can lead a revolution, one person can lead a movement, this could be the guy," Patsos said on Friday. "Why not him changing the landscape of college basketball?"

Stay connected with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE NCAA NEWS:

Big Ten to have a conference-only schedule for all fall sports if played

Big Ten to have a conference-only schedule for all fall sports if played

The Big Ten Conference announced that the league will only play in-conference matchups for the fall 2020 season if games are able to be held. 

The news was first reported by The Athletic's Nicole Auerbach and then confirmed by other outlets.

While this is a gigantic step for the conference as they navigate the coronavirus pandemic, this is most noteworthy to college football. 

Typically, the Big Ten holds nine in-conference contests for each school out of a 13-game schedule. It is unclear if the league will expand its conference schedule to accommodate or continue with nine games. ESPN is reporting that many schools would like a 10-game schedule. 

It is also possible the league will move around current schedules to prepare for potential interruptions, according to ESPN's Adam Rittenburg.

RELATED: MAYBE OTHER LEAGUES SHOULD FOLLOW THE IVY LEAGUE'S LEAD

Removing those nonconference games will limit the student-athletes chance at exposure to the virus. There will be less travel, less hotel stays and fewer individuals that could create a mass-spread of the virus. 

However, with no out-of-conference contests for the upcoming season, the league will not be able to elevate itself as a whole across the college football landscape. It will cancel marquee matchups such as Notre Dame vs. Wisconsin at Lambeau Field, Ohio State at Oregon, Penn State at Virginia Tech and Miami at Michigan State.

For the Maryland Terrapins, they lose a big road contest with West Virginia. Additionally, they had home games scheduled against Towson and Northern Illinois.

As one of the biggest leagues in the country (14 teams), the Big Ten does have the flexibility to expand its schedule with each team playing a full season. However, it could drastically affect how the league is perceived in the scope of the College Football Playoff, especially if other leagues do not follow suit. A one or two-loss league champion does not have any national measuring sticks.

The Big Ten has had a team in the Playoff four of the seven seasons it has been in effect. 

This decision comes on the heels of the Ivy League canceling all of their fall sports for the upcoming semester. The Ivy was the first league across the country to make a move so drastic. It should be noted that the Ivy was also the first league to cancel all spring sports at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. 

This move does not guarantee that the Big Ten will still have football games this fall. It merely serves as a simpler attempt to safely have a season. Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren isn't even convinced there will be a season. 

The conference also will allow student-athletes to choose not to play for the 2020-21 academic year to maintain their scholarship.

Stay connected with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE NCAA NEWS: