It’s the midway point of the college basketball season and there is a lot of stuff that may sound familiar for college teams in the Mid-Atlantic.
Virginia basketball is good and one of the top teams in the country. Maryland is trying to prove themselves after a handful of injuries. The MEAC is bad and getting worse as you are reading this.
But hey we did get our third buzzer beater of these 27 teams, thanks to George Mason. It actually looked pretty flawless too.
Now that conference play has started teams are beginning to make their run and yes, Georgetown remains in the top 10 after some Big East games.
Overall there was only some minor changes, especially in the back half of these rankings, but credit must be given to the Virginia Cavaliers after their impressive start to ACC play.
These rankings are based on scores as of Thursday, January 11 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: 15-1 (4-0)
Last Week: #1 (+0)
Rolling in ACC play, the Cavaliers have now won seven straight and have a road win at Virginia Tech, plus a home victory against then-No. 12 North Carolina.
They have received a first-place vote in the latest AP Poll and are now No. 3 in the country.
Like their style of play or hate it, Virginia’s defense has held their opponents to 53 points a contest. In their seven-game winning streak, the most any team has scored against them was 61 by Syracuse in their most recent game.
Offensively, Kyle Guy (15.4 ppg) and Devon Hall (11.9 ppg) are doing just enough to make their point total respectable. Against UNC, Hall led the team with 16 points and Guy had 22 against Syracuse.
What makes them so dangerous though is not their defense, it’s their efficiency. The Virginia offense is not going to give opponents a chance for transition baskets, or breakaway opportunities. With 9.0 turnovers a game, they average the fewest in the country. They also shoot 47 percent from the field.
That offense leads to the pressure defensive style they like to play with.
2. Virginia Tech Hokies (ACC):
Record: 13-4 (2-2)
Last Week: #2 (+0)
Heading into their home match-up against Pittsburgh on Jan. 6, the Hokies were desperate for a win. Getting a resounding victory over Pitt and then going on the road to beat the Demon Deacons have restored some faith in Virginia Tech’s offense.
Their first two conference games, they didn’t make it out of the 50s in terms of scoring. Now they have scored 81 and 83 in back-to-back games.
Neither of their opponents, Pitt and Wake Forest, are teams to write home about, but every win is always important in the ACC. Next up is a pivotal four-game stretch for the Hokies: @ Louisville, vs. No. 23 Florida State, vs. No. 20 North Carolina, @ Notre Dame.
This stretch will reveal a lot about the team.
And keep an eye on redshirt sophomore Kerry Blackshear Jr. The 6-10 flex forward scored a career-high 31 points against Pittsburgh, going 12-of-16 from the floor.
3. Maryland Terrapins (Big Ten):
Record: 14-4 (3-2)
Last Week: #3 (+0)
If you are a Terps fan, you have to be happy with the 2-1 stretch to start the New Year. There was no chance at unseating No. 1 Michigan State in East Lancing, but they still nabbed two crucial victories over Penn State and Iowa at home.
Anthony Cowan Jr. and Bruno Fernando are playing as a duo, perhaps more effectively than Melo Trimble and Justin Jackson did last year. The freshman Fernando, has thrived since Jackson’s injury and capped that with 21 points against Iowa.
Cowan, meanwhile, is averaging 16.2 points and 4.6 assists a game.
A bid to the NCAA Tournament is still very much in play for the Terps, but it is essential that they have a respectable performance in Big 10 play and at least win one game in the conference tournament.
They have to find a way to get two road victories against Ohio State and Michigan this week.
4. VCU Rams (A-10):
Record: 11-6 (3-1)
Last Week: #4 (+0)
Just when it looks like it is time to take stock in the Rams, something happens.
Dropping an overtime loss at Saint Joseph’s ended any faint hopes one might have in the Rams getting into the NCAA Tournament as an at-large bid.
But there may be some more worries from Richmond as the Rams barely pulled off a win at La Salle and then trailed for most of the contest against Duquesne.
Looking outside of all of that, they have won six of their last seven and have essentially cemented their place as the top mid-major of every team in these rankings. A mark that may stand for the remainder of the season.
5. Old Dominion Monarchs (C-USA):
Record: 12-3 (3-0)
Last Week: #5 (+0)
Old Dominion got the job done against the lesser Rice and North Texas on the road.
Against Rice it took overtime, and B.J. Stith tying a career-high with 26 points, but the Monarchs gutted out an 82-75 win. Old Dominion scored the first eight points of overtime and never looked back from there. Ahmad Caver added a double-double (19 points, 10 assists) in a game that saw the starters for a majority of the contest.
One should not take too much stock in close wins against bad teams on the roads, especially in conference play. Teams are familiar with each other and always find a chance to sneak one out.
Climbing in the KenPom and RPI rankings (85th and 66th respectively), the Monarchs are on a seven-game win streak.
6. William & Mary Tribe (CAA):
Record: 11-4 (4-0)
Last Week: #6 (+0)
Is this the year that the Tribe makes the NCAA Tournament for the first time ever?
It’s looking more and more like it after a 4-0 start in CAA play.
Aside from beating Hofstra by only three points at home, William and Mary (who still has the best three-point numbers in the NCAA this season at 46.2 percent) has taken care of lesser opponents.
Nathan Knight is still hovering around a double-double average with 19.8 points and 8.5 rebounds. He also has 40 blocks which puts him near the top of the NCAA.
Unlike Towson and College of Charleston in the CAA, William and Mary doesn’t have a bad conference loss. It may be enough to get them the top seed come the conference tournament.
They host Towson later this week for their first big test, but there is a good reason to be excited in Williamsburg.
7. Towson Tigers (CAA):
Record: 12-5 (2-2)
Last Week: #7 (+0)
Towson was another team that faced a must-win victory early into conference play. After starting the season 0-2, with losses at College of Charleston and Elon, Towson was limping to a home match-up with UNC-Wilmington.
Although there was no doubt that the Tigers would take care of the Seahawks (89-71) it definitely eased the fan base. They would respond with a home victory over Charleston two days later to get them right back into the thick of the CAA.
The Tigers dominated play for the entire contest. A late run by the Cougars made the score respectable late, but early on the Tigers were up by 19 at halftime. Five players had double-digit scoring, led by Zane Martin with 16.
Their two wins gave them 14 straight victories at SECU arena, one of the longest home winning streaks in Division I.
8. Georgetown Hoyas (Big East):
Record: 12-4 (2-3)
Last Week: #9 (+1)
It's still early in conference play and Georgetown has two road Big East victories. Don't think many predicted that in preseason.— Tyler Byrum (@theTylerByrum) January 10, 2018
The road wins are over DePaul and St. John’s, the two worst teams in the Big East, but still they are wins. They likely won’t be the worst team in the conference, which may seem unimaginable for Hoya fans.
Now their close contests against Butler and at Marquette hold more weight and definitely leave room for optimism as the season progresses.
Against St. John’s, Jessie Govan who has limited his attempts from deep this year, showed the range he developed as a freshman and sophomore. He knocked down a straight-on game winner from three-point range to give them the 69-66 win. Finishing with his 11th double-double of the season (18 points, 13 rebounds), Govan is continuing a campaign for all-conference honors.
Of course, what you really care about is Patrick Ewing returning to Madison Square Garden and beating Chris Mullin once again.
9. Liberty Flames (Big South):
Record: 12-5 (3-1)
Last Week: #10 (+1)
It may look like an easy three-game winning streak in the Big South, which is not that hard in the conference, but Liberty did it none the less. They also went on the road to beat a competitive Winthrop squad after a 19 point, five rebound, and five assist night from Lovell Cabbil.
The big match-up, and the game that will have a significant impact on the rankings is at Radford on Jan. 15.
Yep, you read that right. Liberty and Radford playing each other in an important basketball game.
10. George Mason Patriots (A-10):
Record: 8-9 (2-2)
Last Week: 12 (+2)
Only teams wearing Green and Gold/ Yellow are giving us buzzer-beaters in these DMV rankings.
This time it was Otis Livingston II hitting a beautifully executed three-pointer to beat Saint Joseph’s. If you didn’t click on the link, go ahead and do yourself a favor and do so.
Anyways that gave Livingston (averaging 26 points in the last three games) and the Patriots their second win of conference play. George Mason sits in the middle of a muddled Atlantic 10 with the potential to move up.
A big week up ahead for them, hosting St. Louis and traveling to George Washington. A 2-0 week might bring back some momentum for the Patriots heading into a crucial part of the season.
11. George Washington Colonials (A-10):
Record: 8-9 (1-3)
Last Week: #8 (-3)
It’s hard to pinpoint how good the Colonials are after their 1-3 start in the Atlantic 10. They got an impromptu win over Saint Joseph’s to kick-off their conference season, but since they have dropped five straight.
All three of those losses have come against strange opponents. Duquense is a team is no one really knows if they are good or not, but they have a 12-5 record on the year. Rhode Island is by far the class of the league, so losing by 21 is not too much of a back-breaker. A loss to the hot-shooting Davidson is not too bad either based on how spotty their offense is.
What is concerning is them only scoring 45 points against the Wildcats, a team that gives up 69 points on average. To make matters worse, they only scored 17 in the opening 20 min. As a team they shot the ball at 32.7 percent and 22.7 from deep. Only two players broke 10 points, in Yuta Watanabe (12 points) and Terry Nolan Jr. (10 points).
That graph alone is why they drop in the rankings. It does not bode well for a Virginia team stretch they are about to embark on.
12. Navy Midshipmen (Patriot):
Record: 11-6 (2-2)
Last Week: #11 (-1)
Okay, we are finally figuring out what this Navy team is like. They are not much more than an upper-to-middle of the pack team in the Patriot League.
They got two home wins over Lehigh and American, lost on the road to Colgate. Midshipmen are now 6-1 when playing in Annapolis, Maryland.
13. Radford Highlanders (Big South):
Record: 11-6 (4-0)
Last Week: #14 (+1)
Radford is legit for people that may not follow the Highlanders from Southwest Virginia.
They have won six straight and is off to their best conference start in a decade.
Since redshirt freshman Carlik Jones (11.5 points, 4.1 rebounds) has entered the starting line-up, Radford is 6-2. Ed Polite Jr. continues to lead the team in scoring with 13.8 points a contest and 8.1 rebounds to go with it.
A tough test is ahead that will prove the Highlanders worth this week. They are down in Gardner-Webb on Friday and then at Liberty on Monday.
A perfect week will likely put them as the front-runner in the Big South.
14. UMBC Retrievers (A-East):
Record: 11-7 (2-1)
Last Week: #13 (-1)
About what one would expect for UMBC to start America East play. A 2-1 record with the Retrievers only loss coming at conference favorite Vermont is a perfect spot for them.
It is a little disheartening for them to only beat the lowly Black Bears and Wildcats who have combined for only 10 wins on the season.
Jarius Lyles is still putting up 20 points a game as a grad student but is slowing down from the field. He was held to eight and 16 points in their last two games, shooting 7-of-27.
Not a trend Retriever faithful want to continue.
READ ALSO: LAST WEEK'S RANKINGS
15. Delaware Blue Hens (CAA):
Record: 9-8 (2-2)
Last Week: #16 (+1)
Delaware is team right in the middle of the pack in the CAA. The Blue Hens are not going anywhere this season, but are not going to plummet down the stretch. Expect them float between 11th and 18th in the rankings as the season goes on.
They scored 96 this week against UNC-Wilmington.
16. Morgan State Bears (MEAC):
Record: 7-9 (3-0)
Last Week: #17 (+1)
Now is the time for the Bears to start playing like the preseason favorites that they were back in October. They squeaked out home victories over Maryland-Eastern Shore and Savannah State this week. Two games that easily should have been walk-overs for the talented Morgan State squad.
Tiwian Kendley scored the game-winner against Savannah State as part of his 33 points on the night. He has only played in six games this season but he averages 31.2 points a game (?!).
Winners of three straight they do have momentum, but there still should be some concern from the Bears going forward.
17. Richmond Spiders (A-10):
Record: 3-13 (1-3)
Last Week: #15 (-2)
Richmond has lost three straight but they were in each contest.
Still call me crazy, but this is not that bad of a Richmond team. They are however running out of time and are terrible down the stretch in games.
Neither are boding well for head coach Chris Mooney who is most certainly on the hot seat.
18. Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers (NEC):
Record: 8-9 (2-2)
Last Week: #19 (+1)
Can they do it again? Can the Mountaineers go on an incredible run in the Northeast Conference to get back into the NCAA Tournament?
Probably not, but they did get two wins over Bryant and Central Connecticut by a combined 43 points.
Junior Robinson averaged 26.0 points and 6.5 assists in those two games and freshman Jonah Antonio had18.0 points and 3.0 rebounds. Robinson leads the NEC with 21.9 points per contest.
19. James Madison Dukes (CAA):
Record: 4-13 (0-4)
Last Week: #18 (-1)
Three of the Dukes first four games of conference play were against two of the top four teams in the CAA. Two of them were against Northeastern, which they both lost.
Oh and they play another one of them, William and Mary, on Thursday night again. Schedule makers did no favor for the Dukes this season.
Stuckey Mosley, who may have a top-10 name in college basketball, scored 37 in their overtime loss to Hofstra on Jan. 6. It was a game full of career highs (FG made, three-pointers, and steals) for the junior transfer from Toledo.
20. Loyola Greyhounds (Patriot):
Record: 4-11 (2-2)
Last Week: #22 (+2)
Home wins in conference play are sometimes all you need to get yourself to a solid bid for the conference tournament.
So far the Greyhounds have two improbable victories over Navy and Boston at home after an underwhelming non-conference start.
Keep an eye on Loyola as they are playing spoiler in the Patriot League.
21. American Eagles (Patriot):
Record: 3-12 (0-4)
Last Week: #20 (-1)
The losing streak is now up to six games for the American Eagles. Any win for the team in the Patriot League from here on out will be likely considered an upset.
22. VMI Keydets (SoCon):
Record: 5-9 (0-3)
Last Week: #21 (-1)
Hard to see how the Keydets will stack up in the SoCon based on the first three games. They lost to arguably the three best teams in the league to start conference play.
Programs are not built overnight and wins are still forthcoming for this VMI squad in 2018 before it is all said and done.
23. Norfolk State Spartans (MEAC):
Record: 3-13 (1-1)
Last Week: #24 (+1)
The Spartans almost knocked off one of the MEAC favorites, N.C. Central, on the road this past week. They gave up a 15-2 run to close the game and lost by a single point.
Norfolk State also got a win over Coppin State.
There is still some life left in these Spartans.
24. Maryland-Eastern Shore Hawks (MEAC):
Record: 5-13 (1-2)
Last Week: #26 (+2)
All things considered, there is a lot to be encouraged about for the Hawks in MEAC play. They beat Hampton, lost to Bethune Cookman by five points, and lost to Morgan State on the road by three.
More 33 point nights from redshirt sophomore Ahmad Frost will go a long way too.
25. Hampton Pirates (MEAC):
Record: 5-11 (0-1)
Last Week: #23 (-2)
*Opens door to check to see if Hampton turned it around after a 5-10 non-conference record*
26. Longwood Lancers (Big South):
Record: 4-13 (1-3)
Last Week: #27 (+1)
They cannot win on the road (0-7), but at home they are a respectable 4-5. In Farmville they stole an upset victory over Gardner-Webb 79-73.
27. Howard Bison (MEAC):
Record: 3-15 (0-2)
Last Week: #25 (-2)
The bottom of the MEAC is a mess.
28. Coppin State (MEAC):
Record: 1-17 (1-2)
Last Week: #29 (+1)
HEY! A win over Florida A&M in a game where somebody had to win, the team with the snake mascot was 2-16 coming into that game.
29. Delaware State Hornets (MEAC):
Record: 2-16 (0-3)
Last Week: #28 (-1)
The bottom of the MEAC is a mess, pt. 2.