NCAA

Maryland's upset win over Indiana pushes Terps into AP top 25 poll

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USA TODAY Sports

Maryland's upset win over Indiana pushes Terps into AP top 25 poll

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- Duke remained firmly entrenched at No. 1 for a fourth straight week in The Associated Press men's college basketball poll, which was enough to give its Hall of Fame coach another record.

The Blue Devils led an unchanged top 10 in Monday's AP Top 25 and spent their sixth week on top this season. That gave coach Mike Krzyzewski his 122nd week at No. 1 in the AP poll, breaking a tie with the late UCLA coach John Wooden for the most in poll history.

Duke had set a program record for most weeks at No. 1 in the AP poll in November, also by passing UCLA.

The Blue Devils stayed at No. 1 after Atlantic Coast Conference road wins at Wake Forest and Florida State, the latter coming on a last-second 3-pointer by freshman Cam Reddish. Duke received 36 of 64 first-place votes entering a week that will see the Blue Devils host No. 4 Virginia in a marquee league matchup between ACC favorites.

COMPLETE AP TOP 25 POLL WEEK 11

1. Duke 14-1 (36 first-place votes, no change from last week)

2. Michigan 17-0 (9 first-place votes, no change from last week)

3. Tennessee 14-1 (13 first-place votes, no change from last week)

4. Virginia 15-0 (6 first-place votes, no change from last week)

5. Gonzaga 16-2 (No change from last week)

6. Michigan State 15-2 (No change from last week)

7. Kansas 14-2 (No change from last week)

8. Texas Tech 15-1 (No change from last week)

9. Virginia Tech 14-1 (No change from last week)

10. Nevada 16-1 (No change from last week)

11. Florida State 13-3 (No. 13 last week)

12. Kentucky 12-3 (No. 18 last week)

13. North Carolina 12-4 (No. 12 last week)

14. Auburn 12-3 (No. 11 last week)

15. Marquette 14-3 (No. 21 last week)

16. Buffalo 15-1 (No. 19 last week)

17. N.C. State 14-2 (No. 15 last week)

18. Ole Miss 13-2 (Not ranked last week)

19. Maryland 14-2 (Not ranked last week)

20. Oklahoma 13-3 (No. 23 last week)

21. Houston 16-1 (No. 17 last week)

22. Villanova 13-4 (Not ranked last week)

23. Iowa 14-3 (Not ranked last week)

24. Mississippi State 12-3 (No. 14 last week)

25. Indiana 12-4 (No. 22 last week)

Dropped from the rankings: Ohio State (16), Iowa State (20), St. John's (24) and TCU (25)

THE TOP TIER

Behind Duke, second-ranked and unbeaten Michigan earned nine first-place votes, third-ranked Tennessee had 13 and Virginia -- the only other unbeaten team -- had the remaining six. That quartet is significantly ahead of the rest of the field, with the gap between the Cavaliers and No. 5 Gonzaga (158 points) being bigger than that between Duke and Virginia (85 points).

Michigan State, Kansas, Texas Tech, Virginia Tech and Nevada rounded out the rest of the top 10 for a second straight week.

RISING

The changes started from there after a week that saw 12 of the 15 teams outside the top 10 lose at least once, with five of those losing twice, and combining for 17 losses.

Five teams rose in the new poll, starting with FSU climbing two spots to No. 11 despite the loss to Duke. No. 12 Kentucky was next, joining No. 15 Marquette as the week's biggest climbers by rising six spots.

No. 16 Buffalo and No. 20 Oklahoma (which lost to Texas Tech last week) each rose three spots.

SLIDING

Six teams fell in this week's poll, most notably No. 24 Mississippi State. The Bulldogs lost to South Carolina and Mississippi last week, then fell 10 spots for the biggest slide among ranked teams in this week's poll.

No. 21 Houston fell four spots after suffering its first loss of the season, which came against Temple. No. 14 Auburn and No. 25 Indiana each fell three spots, No. 17 North Carolina State slid two and No. 13 North Carolina fell one after winning on the road against the Wolfpack, followed by suffering its worst home loss under coach Roy Williams, which came against Louisville.

THE NEWCOMERS

Mississippi had a big week by beating Auburn before its victory over Mississippi State. That was enough to get the Rebels back into the poll at No. 18, the program's first ranking since spending two weeks in the AP Top 25 in January 2013. Pretty good for a team that didn't receive a single vote from the panel only a week earlier.

Three teams -- No. 19 Maryland, No. 22 Villanova and No. 23 Iowa -- returned to the poll after appearances earlier this season.

FALLING OUT

Ohio State (No. 16), Iowa State (No. 20), St. John's (No. 24) and TCU (No. 25) fell out of the rankings after each lost twice last week.

CONFERENCE WATCH

The ACC had a leading six teams in the AP Top 25, followed by the Southeastern Conference and the Big Ten, which each tallied five. The Big 12 (three) and the Big East (two) were the only other leagues with multiple ranked teams.

How Howard University coach Larry Scott is leading his team from home

How Howard University coach Larry Scott is leading his team from home

Starting any new job can be stressful, but starting it under a COVID-19 outbreak? A whirlwind.  

That’s exactly how Howard University’s new head football coach, Larry Scott, describes it.  

“You take the job beginning of February and ask yourself, what all has to be done?” Scott said. “And you go, ‘Everything.’”   

And yet you can’t do anything outside of your home. 

Scott is challenged with trying to change the culture of a team that finished the 2019 season 2-10, seventh in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. He’s had to evaluate his roster, hire a new coaching staff, and hopefully bring in the right recruits.  Seems impossible, but Scott sees it completely the opposite.  

“It’s all about people, it’s all about building a strong connection within a team,” Scott said.  “Thank god I had some really good strong relationships with some coaches that I have worked with and admired from afar."

Scott coached under Dan Mullen at the University of Florida and Butch Jones at the University of Tennessee, learning leadership skills he has relied upon while installing his own system at Howard -- especially during this trying time.   

“It actually plays well into the whole concept -- football is still about people and how you make them feel,” Scott said. “Trust factors are built though connections.” 

Howard’s football team holds position meetings two times a week, staff meetings once a week, and uses Zoom to communicate with players daily.  Scott held his first full team meeting on Monday using Microsoft Teams while his strength and conditioning coach sends out daily workouts via Twitter challenging players to find creative ways to stay in football shape.  

Full-body workouts can be better than weights. Packing a book bag or finding water bottles can substitute creativity when the normal tools are not available. It’s about taking ownership of your body, when no one is telling you what time to be in the gym or standing over you counting reps.   

But all that is expected for a football team. Scott is also holding meetings that involve the full academic staff.  

“We have a plan for how we’re attacking academics and our online classes,” Scott said.  

A big part of that are talks on shifting the grade system to pass-fail concepts and where to accept letter grades. Scott wants his players to keep their scholarships and stay eligible. If they don’t keep their studies up, all the training in the world won’t matter. There is no football. Not even when football returns.   

For Scott, the cool thing about communicating all this to young men, is just that. They’re young. The virtual world is more their reality than any previous generation. They order all their food through Uber Eats. They have endless apps on their phones. They can adapt because technology lets them. And in so doing they help their coach adapt, too, during tough times. Together, when they finally return to the field, Scott believes they’ll all have a deeper appreciation for college football. 

“It’s kind of fun entering into their world into how they see things and view things and being able to still reach them and relate to them and teach them on a level that is expanding our mind,” Scott said. “It’s still about seeing young people find ways to have success, create avenues of opportunity.”   

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March Madness Revisited: 2012 Norfolk State makes history against Missouri in 15 vs. 2 upset

March Madness Revisited: 2012 Norfolk State makes history against Missouri in 15 vs. 2 upset

As March wound down without its usual flurry of March Madness moments, NBC Sports Washington took a look back at some smaller DMV schools who made a big impact during their most recent NCAA Tournament appearances.  

Eight years later, Philadelphia 76ers forward Kyle O’Quinn still remembers the euphoria from the long walk through the tunnels at CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Nebraska. 

To him, it felt like the longest walk ever as he and his Norfolk State teammates were “walking on clouds” after his 15th-seeded Spartans upset the second-seeded Missouri Tigers, 86-84, in the first round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament. 

In what was Norfolk State’s first — and to date, its only — tournament appearance, the Spartans put the small Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference school from Virginia on the map and wrecked brackets around the nation, becoming the first No. 15 seed to beat a No. 2 seed since 2001 when then-MEAC rival Hampton beat Iowa State. 

“You’re hoping that you can win this game because very few have done it,” O’Quinn told NBC Sports Washington. “It came down to us believing that we’re just as good as the other team. We took the names off the jerseys, the names off the backs, we didn’t care who their coach was, and we just played.”

As O’Quinn made that journey through the tunnels, he yelled, “We messed up some brackets! We messed up some brackets!"

While Norfolk State celebrated in the locker room, droves of college basketball fans — including President Barack Obama, who projected Missouri to be a Final Four participant — faced the reality that their bracket was ruined in the first round. 

Given the history of No. 2 seeds against No. 15 seeds, combined with the fact that Missouri was a team that some analysts thought should have received a No. 1 seed, most wrote off Norfolk State. While analysts, fans, pundits and even the President advanced Missouri through the first round without much thought, then-head coach Anthony Evans went to work on a game plan. 

“We thought we could match up. Obviously, they had better players, but the matchup would be similar in the style of play,” Evans told NBC Sports Washington. “We were confident. And I knew [O’Quinn] would be an X-factor.”

Evans’ prediction came to fruition as the game played out. O’Quinn established a presence in the low post, allowing the Spartans to jump out to an early lead. Missouri did counter and the game was tied 38-38 at the half. 

But Norfolk State created mounting pressure as it hung around in the second half. The Spartans also benefited from the presence of Kansas fans, who were preparing to watch the second-seeded Jayhawks later that evening and cheered for the upset over a Big 12 rival.

“At some point, the pressure was going to build on them because they were seeded so high,” Evans said. “They were going to feel it as we stayed in it.”

Pressure intensified with 34 seconds to play when O’Quinn caught a teammate's errant 3-point attempt, an airball, and hit a layup while drawing a foul. O’Quinn’s ensuing free throw put the Spartans up 84-81. 

But Missouri still had a chance in the waning seconds. Star guard Phil Pressey pushed the ball up the floor and pulled up for a 3-pointer just before the buzzer sounded. 

“I could watch it 10 times right now, and I still think it might go in,” O’Quinn said. “I can still see the shot going in and it being one of those things where it’s like ‘Well they fought, and they just fell a little short.’”

That wasn’t the case, though. Instead, Pressey’s attempt caromed off the rim, igniting an on-court celebration years in the making for O’Quinn, a senior from New York City playing in his final college games. He scored 26 points and grabbed 14 rebounds. It was a breakout game where O’Quinn made a name for himself and paved his way to becoming a second-round NBA draft pick — a far cry from when he received one scholarship offer out of high school.

O’Quinn received help from his teammates, too. Norfolk State’s five starters scored all 86 of the team’s points. Guards Chris McEachin and Pendarvis Williams dropped 20 points each, while forwards Marcos Tamares and Rodney McCauley added 11 and nine, respectively. Two days after the historic upset, seventh-seeded Florida routed the Spartans, 84-50. 

Still, Norfolk State had added its name to NCAA tournament upset lore in its first-ever appearance in the Big Dance and that’s something that can never be taken away from anybody on that team. To this day, only eight No. 15 seeds have beaten a No. 2. Ironically, half of them are from Virginia (Richmond over Syracuse in 1991, Hampton over Iowa State in 2001 and Norfolk State in 2012) or Maryland (Coppin State beat South Carolina in 1997). And UMBC remains the only No. 16 to beat a No. 1 with its historic win over Virginia in 2018. It is a club the Spartans will always be a part of.  

“Number one,” O’Quinn said without hesitation when asked where that moment ranks in his basketball career. “It’s just the pride of the name on your jersey...That game, to stand out that much and impact so many lives, it has to be number one.”

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