After sifting through this weeks ballots from our esteemed voters and the random thoughts in my mind, one thing is clear: Consensus outside of the still first place Georgetown Hoyas is no more. And with good reason. The glass half full or emptiness of each team seems to be changing with every result.
Virginia remains slotted in second place though one voter dropped the Mike Scott-led team to sixth in their ballot. The Cavaliers stout defensive effort will get them by most nights, but losing center Assane Sene puts the already thin roster in peril. That and guard Sammy Zeglinksi missing 15 of his 17 shots from beyond the arc.
Maryland has nothing in the way of a bad loss on its resume, but as competitive as Mark Turgeons squad is in stretches, the Terps have nary a road or signature win either. Perhaps that is why they received votes ranging from third to eighth and rationale exists either way. Yet if the Terps continue knocking off the teams they should and eek out an upset (or three, at least for postseason purposes) Terrell Stoglin and company could amazingly end up in the top half of the conference. That is if Alex Len starts playing like the acrobatic 7-1 center he showed when he first suited up and not the lost offensively version seen recently.
Virginia Tech looked to avoid the NCAA Tournament bubble by playing themselves off it. Then the Hokies ugly their way to a win over Virginia, which had some slotting the Hokies only behind the Hoyas and Cavs while others could not look past their 0-4 conference start and ignored them altogether. Now Seth Greenbergs squad has back-to-back home games (BYU, Maryland) that could keep the momentum rolling and by the weekend, the NCAA Tourney talk could resurface. Or not.
The CAA continues to look like a one-bid league so what do you make of George Mason and Old Dominion ripping through it after perplexing non-conference performances. VCU has been the most consistent team, but will not get a shot until late in the season against the conference-leading Patriots, who have a string of highly winnable games on the horizon.
George Washington has not sniffed this poll in weeks and remains on the outside looking in. Only two voters even had the Colonials on the ballot, but one had Mike Lonergans surging club third overall now that Tony Taylor and crew have a winning record in Atlantic 10 play.
Some would argue American and Norfolk State should be receiving more love while others continue looking past the Patriot League and MEAC ballers.
The Hoyas received all the first place nods, yet it is also fair to note that five of their six Big East wins have come against teams in the bottom half of the league. Of course finding a way to win despite making only 12 field goals as Georgetown did against Rutgers shows a certain MacGyver ability championship teams possess and one previous John Thompson III teams lacked. The general sense of what how the Hoyas project going forward is a trait the bulk of the other DMVers are currently lacking, at least this week.
For our purposes, we included programs in D.C. and around the Beltway, north to Baltimore, south to Richmond and Norfolk (essentially the Comcast SportsNet region) plus all Division I spots (27 overall) in between.
Friday's weekend preview includes the take from our panel on which coach in the DMV has turned in the best job this season...1 No. 9 Georgetown; Record: (16-3, 6-2 Big East)streak (W3)
Upcoming: at Pittsburgh (Saturday)The Hoyas rebounding prowess has been powered by freshman Otto Porter (team-high 6.9), but the relentless attacking of the glass comes from all parties. Over the last three games, 6-foot-2 and long-armed Jason Clark is averaging 6.0 rebounds along with 19 points and 2.3 steals.The senior guard has certainly provided the youthful Hoyas with leadership, but his varied skill set keeps him involved even in those games where his outside shot falters and his aggressive drives come up empty.
Almost halfway through Big Eastschedule hard to believe they are 6-2 with the loss of Freeman and Wright. Well done by JT III in a season where expectations were not high coming in. (Scott Jackson, Yahoo Sports Radio)
Three wins in a row have Hoyas back on track, but trip to Pittsburgh is the classic definition of a trap game, even if JT3 would bristle at the mere suggestion. (Elliott Smith, CBSSports.com)
The Hoyas survived against Rutgers. They have a full week to prepare for their trip to Pitt then three days later host UConn. A week later Syracuse at the dome looms large. (Joe Yasharoff, Comcast SportsNet)
2 No. 19 Virginia; Record (15-3, 2-2 ACC)streak (L1)
Upcoming: Boston College (Thursday) at NC State (Saturday)Sophomore Joe Harris has dramatically improved his shooting from the field, upping his percentage from 41.8 as a freshman to 47.2 this season. Over his last three games, the 6-6 guard knockeddown 55.1 percent (16-of-29) of his attempts. That includes a 4-of-8 outing against the Hokies as Harris was the only Cavalier to make at least half of his attempts in the low-scoring loss.Cavs acquitted themselves well in showdown game at Duke but since have lost their only reliable big man, Assane Sene. Tony Bennett looks down bench and he hasnt seen anyone that can replace Sene. (Mike Ashley, Terrapin Times)
With their loss to Virginia Tech, UVA fans are finding out something Georgetown fans have known for years. When you play low scoring games, you can lose any night to any team no matter the rankings. (Bobby Bancroft, 106.7 The Fan)
Sheesh. A 2-point loss to rival Virginia Tech on their home court is awful. Not sure what's up with Sammy Zeglinski but he's been ice cold the last couple of weeks and needs to snap out of it! (Michele Gordon, Comcast SportsNet)
3 George Mason; Record: (16-5, 8-1 CAA)...streak (W4)
Upcoming: at Hofstra (Wednesday), James Madison (Saturday)Ryan Pearson continues to be the Patriots frontcourt scoring bell cow, but Mike Morrison is consistently chipping withsix double-figureperformances in the last 7 games. In that span, the senior center is averaging 12.3 ppg and 6.9 rpg while shooting 69.8 (37-of-53) from the floor. No wonder the Patriots lead the CAA in FG percentage. (47.4)
It rarely gets this easy in the CAA -- Patriots in the midst of a seven-game stretch with none of the games against teams currently with winning records. (Dunleavy)Mason is climbing the charts having lost only once in CAA play. Maybe actor Bill Murray could come to every Patriots game even though his son coaches at Towson. (Yasharoff)4 VCU; (16-5, 7-2 CAA)...streak (W5)
Upcoming: at Towson (Wednesday), at Georgia State (Saturday)Darius Theus earned CAA Co-Player of the Week honors last week after averaging 13.5 points and 3.0 rebounds. The junior guard scored 12 of his career-high 15 points in the second half of the Rams 61-48 victory over Old Dominion then capped the weekby hitting including the game-winning layup with 9.8 seconds to go in a 69-68 overtime triumph versus William & Mary. In the wins, Theus was 5-for-5 and scored 15 points in the final five minutes. Rising behind their trademark pressure defense. Forced 25 turnovers against ODU on Saturday night to win their fourth straight. (Dunleavy)A commanding win over Old Dominion Saturday night has the Rams tied for second with the Monarchs and Drexel. Head coach Shaka Smart has this team rolling and I expect a fight with George Mason at the end. (Gordon)
Why do we have to wait til Mid-February for the showdown v. the Patriots? (Jackson)
5 Maryland; (12-6, 2-2 ACC)...streak (L2)
Upcoming: Duke (Wednesday), at Virginia Tech (Saturday)The Terps are averaging 68.7 points on the season, but five points less per game over the4 last three contests. Inconsistency out of the point guard position stand as one reason. In those games, Pe'Shon Howard has doled out six assists, but also 10 turnovers.
Now 12-6 overall, Maryland is near or at bottom of nearly every ACC
offensive statistical category, and as Mark Turgeon keeps reminding us
(and Terrell Stoglin) they really arent very good defensively. Nice
move inviting Mike Krzyzewski to town Wednesday as Maryland names the
Comcast Center court for Gary Williams. (Ashley)
Yes, I know they lost to Florida State and Temple but I still think the Terps are exceeding expectations right now. Two big areas of concern for me right now are turnovers and Alex Len's injury. Terps fans praying he's ready for Duke and the Plumlee brothers on Wednesday. (Gordon)
If Terps can take care of business against teams they should beat (Miami, Clemson, BC, GT), they could be in the bubble mix come tourney time, an impressive feat considering the state of the team at the start of the year.
This is easily one of the Terps toughest stretches of the year (at FSU, at Temple, Duke). Alex Len is struggling with physical play. He will obviously have to get stronger while becoming used to being pushed around and double-teamed. (Yasharoff)
6 Virginia Tech; Record (12-7, 1-4 ACC)streak (W1)
Upcoming: BYU (Wednesday), Maryland (Saturday)
The Hokies NIT push began Sunday at Virginia. (Dunleavy)Got a Much needed win at VA all credit to Bud Foster's Defense. (Jackson) If you win but you dont score 50 points, does it count as a full victory? If youre winless in the ACC up to that point, the answer is an emphatic yes. Youll take any win you can get. (Yasharoff)
7- Loyola; (14-5, 7-2 MAAC)...streak (W1)
Upcoming: at Niagara (Friday), at Canisius (Sunday)
Greyhounds 13-5 start is one of the best in school history, ranking
with Loyola teams coached by Nap Doherty, Lefty Reitz and Skip
Prosser. Whats it all mean? Jimmy Patsos needs a nickname. (Ashley)
8 Old Dominion; (12-9 7-2 CAA)...streak (W1)
Upcoming: at UNCW (Wednesday), William & Mary (Saturday)
Mondays 69-57 win over Northeastern was ODUs first over a team in the top half of the CAA this season. The Monarchs now go back to playing a trio struggling conference teams before hitting the road for a shot at revenge against the Patriots on Feb. 4
Others receiving votes: George Washington (8-11, 3-2 Atlantic 10), American (13-7, 4-1), Norfolk State (15-6, 7-0 MEAC), Richmond (11-9, 2-3 Atlantic 10)and a still coached by Flip Saunders Wizards.