NCAA

DMV College Basketball Power Rankings: A shake-up near the top

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DMV College Basketball Power Rankings: A shake-up near the top

Thanksgiving week is without a doubt the busiest it will get during the college basketball regular season. A majority of teams in the Mid-Atlantic region played in a preseason tournament and it came with mixed results.

Towson was one of two schools to come away with a tournament title, being named Gulf Coast Showcase Champions. As a result, they become the first school to break up the top five that was holding strong for nearly three weeks. Virginia claimed an even more impressive NIT Tip-Off Championship as well as breaking into the AP Top 25 poll. 

Elsewhere teams down the rankings faced off against each other. The biggest, and perhaps most entertaining was William and Mary’s buzzer beater against Old Dominion.

This week though is when the ‘Power’ part of power rankings begins to show and it is more than wins and losses that determines how one team compares to another.

RELATED: 10 LOCAL PLAYERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON THIS YEAR

These rankings are based on scores as of Monday, November 27. All 29 Division I schools in Washington D.C., Maryland, Virginia, and Delaware are included in this rankings.

1. Maryland Terrapins (Big Ten):
Record: 6-1
Last Week: #1 (+0)

During feast week the Maryland Terrapins suffered their first loss of 2017 during the Emerald Coast Classic. While there is nothing to be worried about in terms of the loss, St. Bonaventure is still a really good team; there are some worrying notes.

The Bonnies beat the Terps without their best player, who is will likely be a candidate for Atlantic 10 Player of the Year when it is all said and done. Against the zone, Maryland’s offense looked awful, particularly against the 1-3-1. Maryland just threw up shots, played hero basketball, basically everything opposite of what they have shown this season.

Nothing to worry about in a loss to St. Bonaventure, they will likely make the NCAA Tournament either as an at-large or the Atlantic 10 champion this season. The Terrapins did rebound with a win over New Mexico, another decent squad, to finish in third place at the Emerald Coast Classic.

For now they stay No. 1 in these rankings, but the Cavaliers are nipping at their heels during key parts of both of their non-conference schedules. Next up, the Big Ten/ ACC Challenge on Monday against Syracuse and then a slight dip into conference play on Friday, hosting Purdue.

2. Virginia Cavaliers (ACC):
Record: 6-0
Last Week: #2 (+0)

Virginia keeps racking up decent non-conference wins. The Cavaliers won the NIT Season Tip-Off Tournament by beating both Vanderbilt and Rhode Island.

No players are bouncing off of the stat sheet night after night. No one is scoring 20 points a game. Their defense first mentality is paying off once again.

During the tournament, senior Isaiah Wilkins was named the Tournament MVP. In two games he had 27 points combined (11-15), including a game-high 19 against Rhode Island in the championship game. Additionally he blocked five shots in the two games to bring his total up to eight on the year in six contests.

They now play Wisconsin this week in the Big Ten/ ACC Challenge.

RELATED: LOCAL TEAM BREAKS INTO AP TOP 25

3. VCU Rams (A-10):
Record: 3-3
Last Week: #3 (+0)

Leaving the Jim Maui Innovational one could easily say that the VCU Rams underperformed.

Although it resulted with a win over a Power 5 school, beating California does absolutely nothing for VCU in terms of RPI help. De’Riante Jenkins had a team-high 27 points and 11 rebounds for the best performance of his year. They closed the tournament with a 68-60 loss to Michigan in a game that was a lot closer than the final result.

A big problem so far is that it appears Jonathan Williams and Justin Tillman are trying to do a little too much offensively instead of run an offensive system. Additionally, fouling is becoming a large issue for both of them.

4. Virginia Tech Hokies (ACC):
Record: 5-1
Last Week: #4 (+0)

Not much for Virginia Tech this week, two blowout wins over Houston Baptist and Morehead State keeps them fourth in our power rankings.

They are not far off from passing VCU, two wins this week over Iowa and Ole Miss would jump them ahead of the Rams. They are just lacking a quality win this season (beating Washington is not going to cut it).

In both of their wins this past week they shot 57 and 65 percent from the field, getting everyone involved in the scoring. Justin Bibbs is still leading the team in scoring with 25 and 15 points this week. On the season he is shooting 67 percent from the field and has eight other teammates joining him in the plus-50 percent club.

Overall a strong start for the Hokies this season, just now they need to do it consistently against good schools, like Iowa and Ole Miss this week.

5. Towson Tigers (CAA):
Record: 5-1
Last Week: #7 (+2)

Leaving the Gulf Coast Showcase as tournament champions will bump up the Tigers to their highest mark of the season in these rankings.

Mike Morsell, the tournament’s MVP, finally pulled it all together averaging 14 points in three games, including 16 in the championship against Georgia Southern. Brian Starr also was named to the all-tournament team, scoring 15 in the championship.

Still early, but the Tigers are currently ranked third in the NCAA for three-point defense at 20.2 percent. They are continuing to have balanced production from their entire roster and have no problem going to their bench.

In five straight games they have scored 70 or more points and could continue that stretch against St. Mary’s College on Monday.

6. George Mason Patriots (A-10):
Record: 3-3
Last Week: #5 (-1)

In the tournament portion of the Cancun Challenge the Patriots were unable to get a win against Louisiana Tech or Fresno State finishing last in their preseason tournament.

While those two teams were tough competition, they were two squads on the Patriots level. George Mason may not be a year ahead of schedule as originally thought. Playing a young group of players, including four freshmen, the team should slowly get better throughout the season.

A big issue is scoring in the first half, in their two tournament games a combined 53 points in the first 20 minutes of action. They shot 15-53 in that span.

Despite those issues offensively, defensively they are giving up open shots from deep. Of course this is to circumvent the fact that their tallest player is 6-8 and averages less than seven minutes a night.

7. Old Dominion Monarchs (C-USA):
Record: 4-2
Last Week: #6 (-1)

Only one game this week for the Monarchs and it was a heartbreaker. Losing to William & Mary on the road with a half-court buzzer beater is the only thing that kept the Monarchs out of the top five. Honestly if they didn’t play this week, they would have passed George Mason. Instead they drop down to seventh.

Ahmad Caver had a double-double with 13 points and 10 assists while B.J. Stith went off with 26 points (11-12 FG).

8. Georgetown Hoyas (Big East):
Record: 4-0
Last Week: #8 (+0)

Facing their toughest opponent so far this year, Georgetown continued to stay undefeated with a road win at Richmond this week.

Offensively they shot 53 percent from the field and had all of their starters reach double figures. What kept the Spiders in this game though was 18 turnovers by the Hoyas, most of them being careless.

Three players nearly tallied a double-double, including Jonathan Mulmore who almost did it with eight assists. Marcus Derrickson led the charge tough with 16 points, seven of those coming from the charity stripe.

This was the Hoyas ONLY non-conference game away from Capital One Arena. They look to continue their undefeated start against Maine and Coppin State this week.

9. Liberty Flames (Big South):
Record: 4-2
Last Week: #9 (+0)

A blowout win over Toccoa Falls, a Division II opponent, does change anything for Liberty in these rankings or for their season. Redshirt sophomore Scottie James has a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds in only 10 minutes of play.

10. UMBC Retrievers (A-East):
Record: 3-3
Last Week: #10 (+0)

Barely squeaking out a win over Nicholls’ State with free throws by Jairus Lyles kept UMBC in the top ten momentarily. They also barely held on over Chicago State earlier in the week.

They would have been over a lot earlier had they sunk their free throws (18-30 and 17-29). Offensively they are fine, just defensively they are having trouble forcing teams into tough shots.

Joe Sherburne is coming off of the bench in a big way for the Retrievers with 19 and 16 points this week.

They rattled off a third straight win over Shenandoah just before these rankings were published.

READ ALSO: LAST WEEK'S POWER RANKINGS

11. William & Mary Tribe (CAA):
Record: 3-2
Last Week: #15 (+4)

The old CAA is always fun to reminisce about and Saturday the good ol’ days were on display.

Senior Oliver Tot ended a classic between two schools in Hampton Roads, connecting on a buzzer-beating half court shot to end the game.

In 19 minutes of action that was the only points he scored, but were also the biggest in the contest.

David Cohn was the star for the game, single-handily trying to beat the Monarchs. He had 25 points, including spotting up on five of six from behind the arc. Dishing out nine assists he easily had his best performance of the season.

Honestly the Tribe could go higher in these rankings and they will if they prove it against Marshall and Savannah State this week.

12. George Washington Colonials (A-10):
Record: 2-4
Last Week: #11 (-1)

Playing well against No. 15 Xavier and Kansas State, George Washington is putting it together halfway through their non-conference season. Neither of those two games the Colonials were expected to win.

Against Xavier though, the Colonials did see the development of freshman Terry Nolan Jr, dropping 18 points for the second time this season.

Its tough to gauge how George Washington actually stacks up based on these two games this week. Like George Mason and other young teams on this list, it will be a work in progress to see how they do this season. George Washington should get a win over Morgan State at home this year, then have a key match-up against Temple at the BB&T Classic.

13. Richmond Spiders (A-10):
Record: 1-5
Last Week: #12 (-1)

Khwan Fore is back and Grant Golden is going off and yet there are still a ton of problems for the Spiders.

Defensively they are stopping no one in the post and Georgetown exploited that early and often on Saturday. When they are stopping teams in the paint, they just foul them. They consistently are getting outrebounded and aside from Golden and De’Monte Buckingham, no one is scoring.

Local Maryland product, Golden continues to lead the team with 16.2 ppg on the season and 6.2 rebounds. He also has the best mark from the field, 53 percent, and from behind the arc, 38 percent, on the team.

No let up on the schedule for the Spiders. Vermont, who received votes in the AP Top 25 poll this week, comes to town and then Richmond heads to Wake Forest.

14. Morgan State Bears (MEAC):
Record: 3-2
Last Week: #13 (-1)

Goldey-Beacom was their lone opponent this week and the Bears won by 15.  Lapri McCray-Pace led the team in points and on the boards. He had 21 and seven respectively. He is the only Bear averaging more than 10 points per game on the season.

15. Navy Midshipmen (Patriot):
Record: 5-3
Last Week: #14 (-1)

A lot of action this week for the Midshipmen at the Florida Gulf Coast Shootout. They leave the action 3-1 with their only loss coming against Florida Gulf Coast.

As they always do, they have a packed roster and have been able to put away teams will strong performances from everyone.

They play three straight teams in these rankings this week, Delaware, Morgan State, and Coppin State. They could wrap up a decent non-conference stretch this year if there are no surprises from here on out.

16. Delaware Blue Hens (CAA):
Record: 4-2
Last Week: #16 (+0)

The Blue Hens barely knocked off a winless Longwood squad at home, only totaling 65 points.

DeMatha Catholic graduate Ryan Allen had his best performance of his freshman campaign. He scored 19, with 5 boards and two assists.

But while he was great the team needs help in the paint to not tire out their guards.

Yale comes to town on Monday and then they travel to Navy to wrap up the week.

17. Radford (Big South):
Record: 3-2
Last Week: #19 (+2)

They must like playing teams with purple in their logo, because they rattled off another win this time over James Madison 69-68.

Ed Polite Jr. (17 points) would hit the game winner with five seconds left on the clock to keep the Highlanders undefeated at home to start the year. The team was once down by 15 in the first half.

They go on the road to Vanderbilt and VMU this week.

18. Hampton Pirates (MEAC):
Record: 2-5
Last Week: #17 (-1)

Hampton was almost able to knock off Rider, trying in their second time this season. Allowing 50-plus points in the second half for the second time really hurts.

Many of the games this far are contests that the Pirates knew got away from them this season.

What has been consistent is sophomore guard, Jermaine Marrow who is making a case for All-MEAC honors early in the year. Both games this week he scored 19 points and combined to dish out 15 assists. He is averaging 20.9 points and 6.1 assists per game.

If only he had some help, they could really do some damage before they start conference play, for the final time in the MEAC, in January.

19. James Madison Dukes (CAA):
Record: 2-5
Last Week: #21 (+2)

A stunner in Harrisonburg as the Dukes knocked off Appalachian State this week in double overtime, 105-99. A win of this magnitude would definitely vault James Madison up the rankings, however they lost to Radford on Saturday.

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

A two-game winning streak for the Eagles over New Hampshire and VMI gives them their first two wins of the season. Sa’eed Beksib now has three straight games where he has scored 20 points or more and all were in their best games of the season.

21. Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers (NEC):
Record: 2-4
Last Week: #18 (-3)

The Mount scored 90 to close out the Maui Invitational and then traveled to Ohio where they dropped another contest by nearly 20 points.

They’re still small, not forcing turnovers and are led by Junior Robinson. He is still averaging 21.3 points a game.

During their game against York (P.A.), the Mountaineers unveiled their 2017 Northeast Conference Championship banners. Right now they are exactly on pace with their championship run from last season.

They are only falling in the standings because other teams are winning.

22. Loyola Greyhounds (Patriot):
Record: 1-4
Last Week: #20 (-2)

Getting their first win on the season over Goucher, the Greyhounds finally have that monkey off of their back. Unfortunately they would not keep that going losing on the road to UMass Lowell. In the 83-75 loss, there was a nine minute second half stretch where Loyola failed to score even once. That would doom them despite a double-double from Cam Gregory (17 points, 14 rebounds).

Back to the drawing board as they now look for their first Division I win of the season.

23. Norfolk State Spartans (MEAC):
Record: 0-6
Last Week: #22 (-1)

Still winless on the year it is starting to get dark for the Spartans.

It is not like they are losing to really good teams either. At the grand Canyon Classic the most points they scored was 62 against San Diego. No hole on the schedule either as they may go a month into the year without a win.

24. VMI Keydets (SoCon):
Record: 2-3
Last Week: #25 (+1)

Winning has to feel good for the Keydets after last season. Their losses are also not that embarrassing anymore either. They could pick up another one this week and also face rival Radford on Sunday.

25. Howard Bison (MEAC):
Record: 0-6
Last Week: #24 (-1)

Their chance to win their first game is on the horizon. They play Central Pennsylvania College this week.

26. Maryland-Eastern Shore Hawks (MEAC):
Record: 2-4
Last Week: #26 (+0)

At first one would be inclined to move the Hawks up after beating Jackson State for their second victory of the season. But they then followed that up with a 30-point loss to Tennessee Tech in the Emerald Coast Classic.

27. Longwood Lancers (Big South):
Record: 1-5
Last Week: #27 (+0)

The Lancers get their first win of the year, knocking off a Division II opponent by 29 at home. In that game they scored more than they did of the entire UNGC Tournament.

28. Delaware State Hornets (MEAC):
Record: 2-4
Last Week: #28 (+0)

We’re not going to make the cross-division joke but the Hornets only wins (and only games that are within single digits) are against non-Division I teams.

29. Coppin State (MEAC):
Record: 0-6
Last Week: #29 (+0)

In one game the Bald Eagles surpassed the 60-point plateau and the 70-point plateau, however that was in a loss.

 

5 prospects Ravens fans should be watching in Penn State vs. Michigan

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USA TODAY Sports Images

5 prospects Ravens fans should be watching in Penn State vs. Michigan

The Whiteout is one of the greatest atmospheres in all of sports. It will be on display Saturday as Penn State hosts Michigan (7:30 p.m., ABC). That alone is enough reason to Saturday's game, but for any Redskins fans out there who need more convincing, there are plenty of players playing who could be joining former Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley in Baltimore.

Hare the players Ravens fans should be watching.

DE Yetur Gross-Matos, Penn State

Gross-Matos has been climbing the draft boards after a breakout sophomore season in which he blew apart opposing lines with a whopping 54 tackles, 20 for a loss and eight sacks. He has really good size at 6-foot-5 which comes with some big arms which he uses to initiate contact and work blockers. He has more penetration skills than a lot of edge rushers and sometimes comes from the interior at Penn State.  He is not the kind of lineman who needs to get a good jump and get around a block, he can go around you or through you.

See where Gross-Matos is projected to go in the latest NFL Mock Draft.

CB Lavert Hill, Michigan

With two interceptions this season already, Hill is a top cover-corner for Michigan. Most draft experts have him as a nickel corner in the NFL. That's because his best skill is covering receivers man-to-man. Line him up in the slot and have him cover a speedy slot receiver and he can shut it down. At 5-foot-11, he is definitely undersized for an NFL defensive back, but the talent is there.

Watching Hill lineup against Penn State's KJ Hamler will be one of the matchups to watch on Saturday.

OLB Cam Brown, Penn State

In terms of side-to-side vision, Brown is one of the best linebackers in college football. He recorded 63 tackles last season with two sacks, three forced fumbles and six passes broken up. The knock on him, however, is that he can be easily blocked. He needs to bulk up a bit and work at shedding blocks to be really effective at the NFL level.

G Michael Onwenu, Michigan

In terms of size and strength, Onwenu's got it. In terms of quickness and athleticism, there are a few question marks. Then again, Onwenu is a guard, not a tackle, so perhaps you can get away with a project at that position with questions about his shape. His power alone makes him an NFL player.

OLB Josh Uche, Michigan

Uche is a hybrid edge rusher/linebacker, but he definitely looks like he would be more of an edge rusher in the NFL. This guy's main job on the field and perhaps in life is to pressure the quarterback. He had only 15 tackles last year, but seven of them were sacks. This is definitely  a later-round project though. He had 1.5 sacks heading into last week's matchup with Illinois. He inflated his totals a bit with three sacks in that games so take his final numbers with a grain of salt and ask just where those sacks are coming from.

 

G Steven Gonzalez, Penn State

Gonzalez sounded like he was committed to entering the draft in 2018, but he elected instead to return to Penn State for a fifth season. He's an interior lineman, most likely a guard, which is an area the Ravens need depth in. 

Athleticism is a bit of a question. Gonzalez is good on the run at the first block, but you shouldn't really expect him to go to the second level. He is going to occupy his first block, but he is not going to plow his way to a second. He just doesn't have the speed or athleticism to do it.

Other potential NFL prospects to watch:

WR Tarik Black, Michigan
G Ben Bredeson, Michigan
RB Chris Evans, Michigan
P Blake Gillikin, Penn State
WR K.J. Hamler, Penn State
CB Lavert Hill, Michigan
S Khaleke Hudson, Michigan
WR Juwan Johnson, Penn State
S Josh Metellus, Michigan
K Quinn Nordin, Michigan
QB Shea Patterson, Michigan
WR Donovan Peoples-Jones
CB John Reid, Penn State
OLB Josh Uche, Michigan
DT Robert Windsor, Penn State

MORE NCAA NEWS:

5 prospects Redskins fans should be watching in Penn State vs. Michigan

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USA TODAY Sports Images

5 prospects Redskins fans should be watching in Penn State vs. Michigan

The Whiteout is one of the greatest atmospheres in all of sports. It will be on display Saturday as Penn State hosts Michigan (7:30 p.m., ABC). That alone is enough reason to Saturday's game, but for any Redskins fans out there who need more convincing, there are plenty of players playing who could be wearing the burgundy and gold next season.

Hare the players Redskins fans should be watching.

DE Yetur Gross-Matos, Penn State

Gross-Matos has been climbing the draft boards after a breakout sophomore season in which he blew apart opposing lines with a whopping 54 tackles, 20 for a loss and eight sacks. He has really good size at 6-foot-5 which comes with some big arms which he uses to initiate contact and work blockers. He has more penetration skills than a lot of edge rushers and sometimes comes from the interior at Penn State.  He is not the kind of lineman who needs to get a good jump and get around a block, he can go around you or through you.

See where Gross-Matos is projected to go in the latest NFL Mock Draft.

CB Lavert Hill, Michigan

With two interceptions this season already, Hill is a top cover-corner for Michigan. Most draft experts have him as a nickel corner in the NFL. That's because his best skill is covering receivers man-to-man. Line him up in the slot and have him cover a speedy slot receiver and he can shut it down.

Watching Hill lineup against Penn State's KJ Hamler will be one of the matchups to watch on Saturday.

OLB Cam Brown, Penn State

In terms of side-to-side vision, Brown is one of the best linebackers in college football. He recorded 63 tackles last season with two sacks, three forced fumbles and six passes broken up. The knock on him, however, is that he can be easily blocked. He needs to bulk up a bit and work at shedding blocks to be really effective at the NFL level.

G Michael Onwenu, Michigan

Washington's offensive line is terrible. Trent Williams is never coming back (accept it) and I don't have high hopes that Brandon Scherff is going to re-sign with everything as dysfunctional as it is. The Redskins need linemen at every position and Onwenu should be a target.

In terms of size and strength, he's got it. In terms of quickness and athleticism, there are a few question marks. Then again, Onwenu is a guard, not a tackle, so perhaps you can get away with a project at that position with questions about his shape. His power alone makes him an NFL player.

WR K.J. Hamler, Penn State

Hamler is a good example of why you can't just draft players based on what you see on paper. He is undersized at 5-foot-9, 176 pounds. He's fast for the college game, but his speed likely won't stand out all that much in the pros. But when you watch him, this guy is a playmaker that always seems to make things happen whenever he has the ball in his hands.

He is averaging 17.5 yards per catch this season and that's no fluke as he averaged 18.0 yards per catch just last season. 

Saturday's game is a fascinating matchup as he should line up a lot against Hill who is an NFL caliber corner. This gives him the opportunity to show he can still make plays even against NFL players.

Other potential NFL prospects to watch:

WR Tarik Black, Michigan
G Ben Bredeson, Michigan
RB Chris Evans, Michigan
P Blake Gillikin, Penn State
G Steven Gonzalez, Penn State
S Khaleke Hudson, Michigan
WR Juwan Johnson, Penn State
S Josh Metellus, Michigan
K Quinn Nordin, Michigan
QB Shea Patterson, Michigan
WR Donovan Peoples-Jones
CB John Reid, Penn State
OLB Josh Uche, Michigan
DT Robert Windsor, Penn State

MORE NCAA NEWS: