NCAA

Week 8: Virginia, Virginia Tech pick up key Coastal wins

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USA TODAY Sports

Week 8: Virginia, Virginia Tech pick up key Coastal wins

Virginia sits atop the Coastal Division standings after a win over Duke while Virginia Tech remains in the race after a six-overtime thriller over UNC. Maryland dropped another Big Ten game, Navy dominated South Florida and Penn State held on to edge Michigan in the Whiteout.

Here's a recap of the week's local action.

Navy 35, South Florida 3

The good

Navy’s defense completely dominated the Bulls forcing seven punts and one interception. This is the first time since 2013 the Midshipmen have not allowed a touchdown in a game. Navy now has a three-game winning streak for the first time since 2017 and sit one win away from becoming bowl eligible. That’s quite the turnaround for a team than won just three games last year.

The bad

The one thing that did not seem to go well for Navy on Saturday was the pass offense. That was something Ken Niumatalolo wanted to add to the offense this year. Quarterback Malcolm Perry attempted only three passes, one was incomplete and the other two were completed...to South Florida.

With three total turnovers on the day, Navy’s turnover margin for the season dropped to minus-3.

The ugly

Things always get ugly when one team knows what the other wants to do and still can’t stop it. South Florida loaded the box to stop the option and couldn’t. The Bulls even put 11 players in the box and still Navy continued to march up and down the field for a season-high 434 rushing yards.

Virginia Tech 43, North Carolina 41 (6OT)

The good

A Virginia Tech offense that was completely left for dead earlier in the season has really come alive. Quarterback Hendon Hooker who took over as the starter before the game against Miami was credited with the turnaround, but he suffered an injury late in the first half Saturday. Ryan Willis took over initially and completed all three of his pass attempts including one touchdown. Justin Fuente, however, wisely elected to replace Willis with third-string quarterback Quincy Patterson for the second half.

The offense seemingly comes alive with a dual-threat quarterback under center which Willis is not. WIth him in, this offense has a ceiling that likely could not have kept up with North Carolina.

The move paid off as Patterson threw for 54 yards, rushed for another 122 and scored two total touchdowns plus the game-clinching two-point conversion in overtime.

The win incredibly puts Virginia Tech right back in the thick of the ACC Coastal Division race and puts them two wins away from bowl eligibility with five games remaining.

The bad

Once again, the Hokies defense was torched giving up 491 yards, 41 points and forcing no turnovers. It’s a good thing the offense has started to figure things out because the defense has not been able to offer much help of late.

The ugly

You don’t get to six overtimes without some ugliness. Both teams managed 10 points in the first two overtimes, then Hokies kicker Brian Johnson missed a 41-yard field goal in triple overtime giving North Carolina the chance to win. Noah Ruggles, however, missed a 35-yard field goal forcing a fourth overtime.

Virginia Tech stuffed North Carolina for minus-two yards and blocked North Carolina’s field goal. With a chance to redeem himself, Johnson lined up for the 42-yard field goal and the win...and missed again.

Mercifully, the new college overtime rules take kicking out of the equation by the fifth overtime and give each team one play for a two-point conversation. Virginia Tech was stopped in fifth overtime, North Carolina failed in their next two attempts and Patterson finally ended the game in the sixth OT, running the ball in from three yards for the win.

Indiana 34, Maryland 28

The good

With no Anthony McFarland Jr. who was out with a high-ankle sprain, the Terps needed a big game from Javon Leake and he delivered with a career-high 158 yards and two touchdowns.

The bad

You never want to see a player get injured, but from a purely competitive standpoint, Maryland should have had an advantage when Indiana’s starting quarterback, Michael Penix Jr., was forced out of the game early in the second quarter with an injury. Yet, it still didn’t matter as Maryland’s defense was picked apart by backup Peyton Ramsey.

To be fair, Ramsey was the Hoosiers’ starter last season and lost his job to Penix. He decided to stick with Indiana and was ready when called upon Saturday, completing 20 out of 27 passes for 193 yards and a touchdown.

This marks the second straight week the Terps were beaten by a team playing its backup quarterback. For the game, Maryland gave up 520 total yards including 334 through the air.

The ugly

Despite their troubles on defense, the Terps still had an opportunity to win this game. With less than four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter and the score 31-28, Maryland got the ball back deep in their own territory. In just one play, however, Leake had the ball stripped and it was recovered by Indiana. The Hoosiers tacked on a field goal, but Maryland got the ball back again with a chance to win, this time down by six. The offense managed to drive the ball to Indiana’s 42, but Tyrrell Pigrome overthrew his receiver for an interception to seal the game. That’s two turnovers late in the fourth quarter when Maryland still could have won the game.

Virginia 48, Duke 14

The good

A Duke offense that had scored 30 points or more in each of its last five games was held to just 14 by Virginia’s defense on Saturday. Only one of those touchdowns was against starters as the second came in the fourth quarter when the backups for both teams came into the game. The Blue Devils had just 166 total yards in those first three quarters.

The win puts the Cavaliers in first place in the Coastal Division at 3-1. Pitt, who Virginia beat to open the season, sits in second at 2-1.

The bad

Virginia’s offense remains a one-man show with Bryce Perkins responsible for 152 of Virginia’s 153 yards (111 passing, 42 rushing) in the first half of the game. That cost UVA in its previous two losses and will cost them again this season if Virginia can't find its quarterback some help.

The ugly

The Cavaliers forced a whopping five turnovers from the Blue Devils on the day and turned those turnovers into 20 points. That’s how a seemingly evenly matched game turned into a 34-point blowout.

Penn State 28, Michigan 21

The good

Quarterback Sean Clifford accounted for all four of Penn State’s touchdowns with three passing touchdowns and one one-yard run. K.J. Hamler was his favorite target and he torched Michigan’s secondary with 108 yards on six catches and two touchdowns.

The bad 

The NittanyLion’s strength this season has been its defense while Michigan’s offense has struggled to find an identity. They seemed to find it Saturday as they tore through Penn State’s defense for 417 total yards.

The ugly

What is home-field advantage worth? A heck of a lot. The Whiteout flustered Michigan early on as the Wolverines had to call timeout before their very first snap on offense. The next drive ended when a false start on a third-and-long prevented any chance of Michigan getting the first down.

This loss drops Jim Harbaugh’s record against top-10 teams while at Michigan to 1-10.

Mac McClung has entered the NBA draft, what happens if he doesn't return to Georgetown?

Mac McClung has entered the NBA draft, what happens if he doesn't return to Georgetown?

After back-to-back stellar seasons with the Georgetown Hoyas, Mac McClung has stated his intentions to enter the 2020 NBA Draft process. 

A general consensus from draft evaluators and fans is that McClung will eventually withdraw his name from the process after the NBA Combine and come back. Declaring can be used to gain feedback from scouts and agents alike on where he is at in his playing career.

If he came back to Georgetown he could use that criticism to develop and prepare for the draft next season. It makes sense and is a system that has worked countless times to create solid NBA players.

But what if McClung doesn't withdraw his name and fully commits to the draft? It can't be ruled out given that is why he is declaring. 

That could put Georgetown in a precarious situation next season. Not only would it hurt losing such a dynamic scorer and playmaker in McClung, but once again they would be thrust into another season with potential roster concerns. 

With McClung, there are seven returning players on scholarship for next year. It is assumed Omer Yurtseven will not be returning either for a graduate season after his post on Instagram "closed a chapter" and seemed like a goodbye message to the Hoyas. That would leave six scholarship players returning. 

Not an ideal situation for Patrick Ewing as he is still looking to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time. But, that situation is manageable with two starters returning and two others that saw significant playing time. 

If McClung leaves, that means five returning players will be on next year's roster. Only three having played regular minutes. There would also be only one guard.

Relief is coming, three of the four commitments for next year are guards, all of them being three-star recruits. In this situation, at least one, potentially two of them, would have to start immediately for Georgetown. Now, freshmen start all the time in college hoops but that's a tall task for three-stars. There's also the transfer market, but no big transfer has been publically linked to the Hoyas as of this writing.

Why is this an issue? The consensus is that McClung will return next season. He's slightly undersized for either the point or shooting guard positions in the NBA. He is a 3-point shooter, but at 32% last season he isn't consistent enough to make it on his shooting alone. The best, and most enticing part, of his game is his athleticism and dunking ability.

But at the combine, things can change quickly. Jordan Bone of Tennessee (2019) and Kevin Huerter from Maryland (2018) proved that.

Both are examples of prospects that can shine in the combine and then make a sudden decision to forgo their eligibility and get drafted. McClung already has a leg up on other prospects by being well known in the scouting community from the hype surrounding him in high school. He's already had valuable conversations and connections with those involved in the evaluation. 

A good combine can make McClung an attractive prospect and if a team is telling him the right things, it may be enough to get him to leave college. That is not a reality that Georgetown could afford to face next year. 

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March Madness Revisited: George Mason lives out of their Final Four shadow in 2011

March Madness Revisited: George Mason lives out of their Final Four shadow in 2011

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.  

When one thinks of George Mason basketball, instantly they're called back to the historic Final Four team in 2006. That team's legacy hasn’t outgrown that legendary performance when the Patriots stunned everyone with one of the great Cinderella runs in tournament history.

But the 2010-11 George Mason squad had something to prove, too. Those Patriots wanted to write their own history. Hard to do when the mark was an unprecedented Final Four appearance. In 2011 they moved the Final Four to the side and gave pundits another story to tell, adding another giant of the sport to their list of downed foes.

Five years removed from the original Cinderella story, it was an entirely new team. New players, new assistant coaches and a new era of Mason basketball. But, it was recent enough to still have extra motivation for those on the roster. 

“We were kind of in those shadows of ‘Alright we don’t want to be the guys that come to college and then don’t get to the tournament,'’” former Patriots forward Mike Morrison told NBC Sports Washington. “We still communicate with [the Final Four] guys as if we’re on the same team. We know them personally. We play videogames online with each other from across the world and group chats and all that stuff. So, we were pretty tight.”

During that 2010-11 season, the Patriots, led still by coach Jim Larranaga, set records that even the Final Four team never did. A program-best 16-game winning streak propelled the team to an at-large bid. As a rehe CAA regular-season title for the second time ever. They received a higher seed, in fact - the best in the league’s history by being the No. 8 seed. George Mason sult, they won twas the first CAA team to ever be the home seed in an NCAA Tournament game. 

And unlike Selection Sunday in 2006, there was no doubt they would hear their name called. A 26-6 (16-2) record in a three-bid CAA had them prepared to continue playing. It was a matter of who, when and where, not if. 

Mason’s first opponent was Villanova, a team that the Patriots had just lost to by a point a year prior in non-conference play, a team Mason believed it could beat.

“We weren’t just happy by the seeding. We were very excited to get Villanova," Morrison said. "The year before we played them in Puerto Rico and we really felt like we should have beat them and we didn’t play our best game. There was a lot of excitement behind our matchup for sure.”

Mason’s roster was full of characters. The quiet, lead-by-example Cam Long was one of two seniors in the rotation. With him were the loud and boisterous juniors Ryan Pearson and Morrison in the frontcourt. At the point was sophomore guard Luke Hancock. They didn’t back down from a challenge. Mason was aggressive, loud, talked smack and was not afraid to tell teams they were better than them. They were battle-tested.

“We played tough games that year,” then-assistant coach Mike Huger told NBC Sports Washington. “We were in battles throughout, even in the 16-game winning streak. The CAA was very good and very competitive with us and VCU and just battling each other throughout. Old Dominion was very good as well.”

The first-round matchup played out exactly how an No. 8-9 game should. Back-and-forth, each team trading blows, answering the bell when it looked like the other had them on the ropes. 

An 8-0 spark in the final moments gave Mason brief control of the game. Up until that point, Villanova had led for most of the contest and Mason would not go away. A foul on a Corey Fisher 3-point attempt gave Villanova the lead right back with the shot clock turned off. Mason was down one, with plenty of time left for multiple possessions and then Hancock stepped back for a three.

“Luke shot it and that wasn’t the plan,” Morrision said jokingly. “Luke just did what he does.”

“Well, first it was more like ‘What are you doing?!’ He had the lane to drive to the basket and then he stops on a dime and takes a step-back three… and it was like holy smokes,” Huger said. “The shot was just such a shock. I think Villanova was in shock that everything happened the way it did. I think that kind of froze them a little bit and they weren’t able to make a play after that.”

The Patriots withstood the final 20 seconds to beat Villanova 61-57. Another blue blood to go down, joining the list of Michigan State, North Carolina, Wichita State and Connecticut from 2006. Could Patriots, with a crop of new faces, do it again? 

The three by Hancock extended Mason’s tournament but did not extend his own. Before they were set to play No. 1 seed Ohio State, Hancock came down with food poisoning. The “glue” of the team was gone and quickly shut down the wild concept that this could be another Cinderella team. 

"That changed the dynamic of the team,” Huger said. “We didn’t understand how much we would miss Luke going into that Ohio State game until it really hit us and now it’s like, ‘Oh, he’s not here.’”

The David Lighty and Jared Sullinger-led Buckeyes throttled the Patriots 98-66 in the second round. A magical run wasn’t allowed to end organically. 

As fortune would have it, that was the end of the road for a group that had so much potential. With four starters returning, running it back and perhaps having an even better season was definitely in the cards. 

But Larranaga left at season’s end to coach the Miami Hurricanes. His assistants would follow. Hancock, who had just come off his ‘One Shining Moment’ shot, transferred to Louisville, where more NCAA Tournaments would follow. 

The 'what ifs' grow bigger as time has gone on, showing how quickly life can change for mid-major programs. The Patriots haven’t made the tournament since.

“We thought we could really do something special with that group coming back, but everything changed,” Huger said. “Who knows what would have happened if we would have stayed and had another crack at it the following year with that group back. So that’s the thing that you always wonder.”

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