NCAA

If Georgetown wants to make the NCAA Tournament, they must beat Providence

If Georgetown wants to make the NCAA Tournament, they must beat Providence

An improbable upset over No. 19 Butler at Hinkle Fieldhouse suddenly vaulted the Georgetown Hoyas into the NCAA Tournament conversation over the weekend. 

They pulled out the victory with only seven scholarship players, missing their top two scorers on the season. But no matter how they accomplished the feat, they win drew attention across the country. Any team in the Big East conference that just pulled out a road victory against the ranked Butler Bulldogs has to have postseason aspirations, right? 

There was a surprising revelation when evaluating the Hoyas: The don't have that bad of a tournament resume. 

Yes, at 15-10 (5-7 Big East) the Hoyas can be considered a bubble team. They're ranked 46th in the NET, 47th in KenPom, 60th in BPI and are the last team in Joe Lunardi's bracketology projection as of this writing. Their surprising win over Butler, along with an atrocious bubble this season, has helped them get there.

Now is when the season gets important for the Hoyas, though. One loss to a subpar team could derail that. On Wednesday they host Providence for their second matchup of the season. If they lose, the Hoyas can kiss an at-large bid goodbye. 

Georgetown's resume is contingent on them avoiding bad losses. Their worst loss on the season was to a solid UNC Greensboro team. Every other one is qualified as a Quadrant 1 loss according to the NET. They are 10-1 in non-Q1 situations. 

Bad losses are abound in college basketball this season, even from the top teams. Those losses have Virginia, VCU and Alabama stuck on the bubble. Somehow, the scrappy Hoyas have kept them off their resume. 

Losing to Providence would be a bad loss for the Hoyas. It would be their worst loss to date, according to the NET. Providence (NET: 58) is, in fact, one of those teams with a handful of poor losses (9-4 vs. sub-Q1 opponents). And while Providence is also in consideration for the NCAA Tournament, it would crush the Hoyas' outlook since they don't have the Q1 wins to offset a loss like that. This contest being at home for the Hoyas makes it even more imperative that they come out on top.

Beating the Friars at home will not likely be enough for the Hoyas to make the tournament. They'll have to also beat Xavier, DePaul and likely find some magic in one of their other three games. 

The Hoyas can get there, but their quest for the NCAA Tournament starts by beating Providence. 

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This date in tournament history: Juan Dixon drops 33 to carry Terps over Kansas and into the national championship

This date in tournament history: Juan Dixon drops 33 to carry Terps over Kansas and into the national championship

The 2002 Maryland men's basketball team will stand the test of time, thanks in large part to the heroics of Juan Dixon.

The Terps got back to the Final Four in 2002 a year after being eliminated by Duke in a game where Maryland lead by as much as 22.

Gary Williams' squad entered March Madness with a No. 1 seed, coasting to the Final Four after taking down (16) Siena, (8) Wisconsin, (4) Kentucky, and (2) Connecticut.

After winning the East Regional, the Terps traveled to Atlanta, where they would face the winner the Midwest Regional, the (1) Kansas Jayhawks.

Clinging to a five-point lead with 1:14 to play in regulation, Dixon (33 points) converted on a baseline jumper to increase the Maryland lead to 7.

Steve Blake (8 points, 11 assists) converted one of his two free throws with 39 seconds to play to give the Terps an eight-point cushion.

Kansas star and current Wizards' analyst Drew Gooden (15 points, 9 rebounds) cut the lead to four with 19.8 seconds in regulation, but the Jayhawks wouldn't regain any further traction.

After a series of free throws, the Terps were able to dribble out the clock, penciling in a date with the Indiana Hoosiers, and heading to the final for the first time in school history.

"It will be a tough game," Dixon said of their upcoming matchup with Indiana. "This is our year, and hopefully we come ready Monday night."

They were more than ready.

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Mike Locksley and Terrapins coaching staff try to keep team together during coronavirus pandemic

Mike Locksley and Terrapins coaching staff try to keep team together during coronavirus pandemic

No spring football games, no practices, no recruiting visits, and believe it or not, less time in the day.  

That is the current reality for Maryland’s head football coach, Mike Locksley. Not the easiest of circumstances to try and run a rebuilding football program in the Big 10. 
 
“Man, it’s been tough. I usually get up and get a little work out in. I’ve got an in-home gym where I can just do something to get moving,” Locksley said. “I’m kind of like a kid where if I get off schedule, I’m not very good… I get up, I get dressed. I don’t play around in my pajamas or shorts and a t-shirt.” 

Technically, the team has been on spring break this week, so there would have been no meetings in this first full week of quarantine.  But the staff has been busier than ever preparing for what life will look like when online classes begin on Monday. That is when the coaching staff will try to create some form of normalcy for their players.   

“We get eight hours a week to virtually meet with our players, so we’re working hard on developing the football intelligence that it takes using all the technology we have,” Locksley said.  

In normal times, only two hours a week would be allowed for film work or walkthroughs. The other six would be focused on strength training. These are far from normal times so this is where accountability comes into play. What they do now will pay off during the Big 10 season in the fall.   

“I think this is where you’ll see the biggest strides in the game for our programs, what these guys do when nobody is around and nobody is watching them,” Locksley said. “We always talk about being the best version of yourself and this gives our players the opportunity to do that without coaches there.”  

But it certainly makes it challenging to evaluate and develop players on a team that has much to improve upon finishing last season 3-9.  All 15 spring practices have been canceled, but Locksley says the Terrapins are focused on finding solutions for when the team is allowed back together, not excuses.  

“There’s no substitute for being able to go out and practice and if we can’t physically develop them, we need to mentally develop them,” Locksley said. “A lot of football success is about making the right decisions. That’s where teaching, the installs, and the mental conditioning will help develop our team.”  

So how do you get everyone in alignment during a time of pandemic?  First off, by staying up to date as best you can while staying home.   

“It makes you have to stay on the cutting edge of technology,” Locksley said with a chuckle. “I had never heard of a Zoom meeting until about a week ago.” 

Few of us had! Of course we’re all well aware now. Working from home has become the new norm and that was the way this interview was conducted. And it will play an even bigger role as Locksley and his staff look to continue the recruiting process for the class of 2021.   

Fortunately, most recruits had already visited campus before school was shut down, but coaches are now using FaceTime, making countless phone calls, and using social media to connect with prospective future Terps. The coaching staff meets via video conference every day at 10:30 a.m., position coaches check in with their players daily and the staff reconvenes in the afternoon for updates.  

It’s a time none of us could have expected and no one can predict when it will end. But there’s still work to be done.   

“It’s about finding ways to improve yourself, not use this as an excuse for what’s to come,” Locksley said. “I think the strides we make now will determine what happens in the fall - if we are able to play football.” 

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