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First-place Navy is very much alive in the race for the Cotton Bowl

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First-place Navy is very much alive in the race for the Cotton Bowl

Army-Navy may not be the only big game for Navy in the month of December this year. With their blowout win over UConn on Saturday, the Midshipmen improved to 7-1 on the season and entered the AP Poll this week at No. 25. Also of note is that previously undefeated SMU lost to Memphis which now means Navy sits atop the AAC West Division with a 5-1 conference record. No, Navy is not in the running for a spot in the College Football Playoff, but a New Year’s Six Bowl bid is absolutely on the table.

According to the rules of the New Year’s Six Bowls, the highest-ranked champion from the Group of 5 gets an automatic bid. This year’s game for the Group of 5 will be the Cotton Bowl.

The rankings that ultimately matter are the College Football Playoff rankings, the first of which do not come out until Tuesday. For now, however, the AP Poll is our best estimate for where the Group of 5 teams stand in the race for the Cotton Bowl. Entering Week 11, Cincinnati is the highest-ranked Group of 5 team at 17. There’s also Memphis (19), Boise State (21), SMU (23), San Diego State (24) and finally, Navy (25).

With five teams ranked ahead of Navy, is the Cotton Bowl actually realistic? When you look at their schedule, the answer is yes.

Yes, the matchup against Notre Dame on Nov. 16 looms large and losing that game would give the Midshipmen their second loss of the season. That would be a tough blow to their ranking, especially if that game ends up being a one-sided loss. What matters most of all, however, is winning the conference and for Navy that possibility absolutely remains on the table.

While the Midshipmen may be in first place at the moment, Memphis sits right behind them at 4-1. Navy’s lone loss this season was to Memphis meaning the Tigers would win any tie-breaker based on their head-to-head matchup, but Memphis still has to play Cincinnati in the season finale. Cincinnati is poised to win the AAC East with a 7-1 record, 4-0 in conference. The Bearcats have wins over UCLA and UCF this season and their lone loss came at the hand of Ohio State.

Behind Memphis, SMU also has one conference loss, but they travel to Annapolis on Nov. 23 giving Navy a chance to hand them their second loss and cement their position within the division.

To summarize, the path the Cotton Bowl for Navy is to keep things close against Notre Dame even in a loss, win all remaining conference games including SMU, hope Memphis loses a conference game most likely to Cincinnati, win the conference championship game and hope that resume proves to be better than the winner of the Mountain West which is the only other conference in real contention for the Group of 5 bid.

A lot of things still have to go Navy’s way for this to happen, plus it is all moot if they don’t keep winning. But while this will require a bit of luck for the Midshipmen, there is no part of this path that you could label as unrealistic. The fact is, the calendar has turned to November, the end of the season is in sight and Navy is still among the team in contention for the Cotton Bowl.

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Four-star 2021 SF Benny Williams commits to Syracuse over Maryland and Georgetown

Four-star 2021 SF Benny Williams commits to Syracuse over Maryland and Georgetown

The Syracuse men's basketball program picked up its first commit of the 2021 class on Thursday and it came at the expense of the two big local schools. 

Four-star prospect Benny Williams committed to the Orange on Thursday, the small forward announced on Twitter. 247Sports was the first to break the news.

Williams, a consensus top 60 recruit in the 2021 class, chose Syracuse over Maryland, Georgetown and Miami. The small forward is ranked the 47th overall player in the 2021 class by 247Sports and 53rd by ESPN.

Missing on Williams is a crushing blow for the Terps, as the forward would have been the second four-star to commit to Maryland in the 2021 class, joining power forward Julian Reese. The Hoyas have yet to land a commitment for the 2021 recruiting cycle.

"I'm excited to play for coach [Jim] Boeheim in front of the best fans in the country in the greatest arena in college basketball," Williams said in his commitment video.

The 6-foot-8 forward, who plays his high school ball at St. Andrew's Episcopal in Potomac, Md., had taken two unofficial visits to Syracuse prior to committing, according to 247Sports. 

Syracuse's culture and the legacy of the basketball program were two things that specifically stood out to the junior when he visited the school.

"I picked them because of the relationship we built going back two years ago, especially coach Red [Autry] and with coach [Jim] Boeheim," Williams told 247Sports. "I think I can come in and impact the program right away and hopefully lead them to a national championship."

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The 7 best point guards in Maryland basketball history

The 7 best point guards in Maryland basketball history

Maryland basketball is no stranger to success at the point guard position. Throughout the history of the program, numerous primary ball handlers have put up big scoring totals, created highlight plays and led their team to greatness.

But for a program loaded with point guard talent, who are the best of the best? Here's a look at a few of top point guards to ever be a Terp.

Gene Shue (1951-54)

Shue ranks No. 22 on Maryland's all-time scoring list, and while he put up some impressive numbers during his time there, his most impressive work was how he put the program on the map. Before Shue took his spot at UMD, the team had suffered losing season after losing season. That all changed when the point guard arrived.

During his playing career, the Terps achieved their first 20-win season in program history, were nationally ranked and joined the ACC Conference. Thanks in large part to Shue, Maryland basketball began the journey toward national prominence. 

John Lucas (1972-76)

Earning All-American honors once is an impressive feat for most college players, Lucas did it three times during his career at Maryland. The point guard earned second-team honors for the 1973-74 season while playing alongside Tom McMillen and Len Elmore. The latter two would graduate leaving Lucas to shine on his own in the following year.

He did just that, earning First-Team All-American honors for the 1974-75 season. Lucas would do the same in 1975-76 for good measure. During that time he also led Maryland to an ACC regular-season title and an Elite Eight appearance.

Lucas currently ranks No. 6 all-time in scoring at Maryland with 2,015 points. He also ranks No. 4 in scoring average, totaling around 18.3 points per game during his career as a Terp. Lucas wasn't just a scorer, as he also could pass with the best of them as a point guard. His 514 assists in college put him fifth on Maryland's all-time list. Lucas would go on to have a solid NBA career as well after being selected No. 1 overall by the Rockets in the 1976 NBA Draft.

Keith Gatlin (1983-86, 1988)

Gatlin embodied the floor general spirit of a point guard during his time at Maryland. Though surpassed 1,000 points in college, his real brilliance was seen when he distributed the ball to others.

Len Bias and Adrian Branch ranked No. 3 and No. 5 on Maryland's scoring list, and that's largely due to Gatlin's ability to get them the ball and let them take over. Rather than force his own shots, Gatlin would find the open man and rack up assist totals. By the end of his Terrapin career, he had recorded 649 assists, good enough for third all-time in school history.

Steve Blake (1999-2003)

Blake, much like Gatlin, made his mark as a passer at Maryland. His 972 assists during his four-year college career are the highest mark in the history of the program and rank sixth all-time in NCAA basketball history.

Blake's brilliance was seen from day one, as he started from his freshman to senior year at Maryland. His ability to control the flow of the game was instrumental in the Terps 2002 National Championship run.

Greivis Vasquez (2006-10)

The roar at the Xfinity Center when Vasquez tells the crowd he has "Maryland Pride" is all you need to know about how great his collegiate career was. The point guard showed promise in his first two seasons but really stepped up his game during his junior and senior years.

In 2008-09, Vasquez led the Terrapins in almost every category on the stat sheet. The top spots for scoring, assists, rebounds, steals and minutes played all belonged to him. He followed that up with a senior year in which he scored close to 20 points per game and took home the Bob Cousy Award, given to the nation's best point guard. Vasquez currently ranks second all-time in points at Maryland with 2,171. 

Melo Trimble (2014-17)

Trimble is one of the most recent guards to find success at Maryland. Bursting onto the scene as a freshman, Trimble averaged 16.2 points per game during his first season of college ball. His following two seasons were just as exciting, as Trimble became the go-to weapon for the Terps offense. Before it was all said and done, Trimble surpassed 1,600 points and 400 assists during his three years at Maryland.

Numbers were great, but it was Trimble's heroic moments in the final seconds that he'll always be remembered for. Last-second game-winning shots against Wisconsin and Michigan State showed that there was no moment too big for No. 2. 

Anthony Cowan Jr. (2016-20)

When Trimble left for the pros it became Cowan's time to shine at Maryland, and he did just that. After a solid freshman year, Cowan continued to grow and improve each time out on the court. From his sophomore to senior year Cowan averaged 15.8, 15.6 and 16.3 points, respectively. He now sits seventh all-time in scoring at the University of Maryland

Cowan's biggest strengths, however, were his consistency and clutch. Maryland's newest 'Iron Man,' the point guard started 130 consecutive games during his four years as a Terp. No matter what was going on, everyone could rely on Cowan to be there and ready to make an impact. 

Clutch-wise, Cowan had a knack for stepping up in the big moments, especially during his senior season. A lethal three-point shooter, his performance on the road against Michigan State this past season showed everything there is to know about the Maryland native. With the Terps trailing late, Cowan knocked down two huge threes from way beyond the arc to take the lead and ice the game.

Moments like that helped Cowan bring a Big Ten banner to College Park. 

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