Washington

Recapping a wild college basketball weekend around the DMV

Washington

The 2020-21 college basketball season tipped off last week, and the first weekend of play in the DMV was as hectic as it gets.

It looks like this is going to be one of the more unpredictable seasons in recent college basketball history, and that played out across some of the region's teams over the weekend from the District to Blacksburg. There was something for almost every fan. 

Let's run through a few of the biggest stories from the past few days in local college hoops.

Virginia Tech stuns No. 3 Villanova in OT

Virginia Tech scored one of the season's most impressive victories late Saturday night, pulling away from No. 3 Villanova in overtime for a 81-73 win. Making the win more impressive was the fact that, as a result of Temple pausing team activities for coronavirus-related reasons, VT didn't know it would be playing Villanova until one day prior.

It didn't matter for the Hokies, who pulled off a resume-defining win in just their second game of the season. Keve Aluma and Nahiem Alleyne led the way with 22 and 20 points, respectively in a game they never expected to play. It's going to be that kind of year.

Virginia Tech followed up their big upset win with a more comfortable 76-58 victory over South Florida Sunday night.

No. 4 UVA upset by San Francisco

Things didn't go quite so well for the Hokies' rivals in Charlottesville. Virginia, technically still the defending national champions after the 2020 postseason was canceled, had an inauspicious start to its season after being upset by San Francisco on Friday at the Mohegan Sun event in Connecticut.

 

The Cavaliers blew out Towson on Wednesday to get things started, but struggled mightily against the Dons, especially on offense. And they failed to close out San Francisco when they had a chance, allowing the Dons to end the game on an 8-0 run.

In a season with multiple top-10 upsets already, No. 4 UVA falling was perhaps the most surprising result all weekend long.

Richmond upsets Kentucky at Rupp Arena

The Richmond Spiders are a mid-major program known from springing historic upsets, and they added to that resume on Sunday on the road against Kentucky. 

The Wildcats entered Sunday's game ranked 10th in the country, but they were thoroughly outplayed in the second half by Richmond. The Spiders look like one of the best mid-majors in the country early in the season - they were really good last year, too, in a stacked Atlantic 10 - and they were clearly the better team in the second half on Sunday.

If they keep playing like this, it could be a special year in the state's capital.

Maryland's 21-0 run

The Terrapins have started their season with three straight wins for the seventh consecutive season, but their closest call yet came Sunday afternoon in unexpected fashion.

Facing Mount St. Mary's, the Terps found themselves trailing 58-56 with eight minutes left in the game before they finally locked in on both sides of the court. Maryland went to its small lineup and found immediate success, going on a 21-0 run to pull away from the Mountaineers and close out the win.

The Terps are winning with a balanced offense, coming off Friday night's historic shooting night against Navy in which they shot a higher field goal percentage than they had in any game since 1986.

Not much was expected from Maryland after heavy losses to graduation and the NBA Draft. They received no love in any preseason polls while seven Big Ten teams are ranked - three of them in the top 10 (Illinois, Wisconsin and Iowa) - and another got votes. 

While a 3-0 start is nice, Maryland has games upcoming against George Mason and Towson before a trip to an old, familiar place: Littlejohn Coliseum at Clemson, which is off to a 2-0 start and will host the Terps in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge on Dec. 9 before that rugged conference schedule starts for real. 

Makur Maker shut down

Howard was thrilled to add 5-star recruit Makur Maker to its 2020-21 roster, but the talented big man won't be on the court for a while. Maker has been struggling with a groin injury and was severely limited on the court so the program decided it would be in his best interest to be shut down for the foreseeable future.

 

Hopefully for Howard and Maker, the "nagging groin injury" heals up quickly and local hoops fans get to see him on the court closer to his best.