1) Georgetown (5-1): Even if the No. 15 Hoyas fall to Texas Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden, not sure that changes their spot in these here rankings, which is also not the equivlent of saying Georgetown is far ahead of the pack. Defensively the lengthy roster should be nightmarish for the Longhorns perimeter shooters and others going forward. Caught up in the ugliness of the 37-36 offensively-challenged win over Tennessee was the Volunteers sheer inability to find quality looks inside the 3-point line. Outside the arc, Tennessee finished 3 of 18. This is what a starting lineup with four players standing 6-feet-8 or taller, including Otto Porter and Greg Whittington, can do. However, the Hoyas once again finished on the wrong end of the rebounding battle and depth concerns beyond the top-seven options remain. Get past Texas with a win and Georgetown is then positioned nicely with four favorable matchups with which to sort out any concens before starting Big East play in January.
2) Virginia Tech (7-0): Stunned the Hokies are slotted this high and arguably should be higher considering their undefeated start and the latest victory, Saturday's 81-71 "upset" over No. 1 5 Oklahoma State. Let me be the 1000th person to ponder how good this team if their top recruit from each of the past two summers --rising sophomore Dorian Finney-Smith and incoming freshman Montrezl Harrell -- stuck around Blacksburg. At least first-year coach James Johnson still has dynamic point guard Erick Green, who received some Player of the Week love after dropping 28 on the OSU and 24 against Iowa in the ACC-Big Ten challenge. For the long haul not Virgina Tech measures up to the next ACC team on this list, but results matter and right now the Hokies have that going for them.
3) Maryland (6-1): Been debating the more impressive aspect of the Terps BB&T Classic victory over George Mason: Dez Wells at his streaking fullback en route to scoring 25 points; the team's defense which stymied nearly everyone on the Patriots roster; or that they could win despite missing 16 free throws and committing 19 turnovers. Probably a little from column A, B anc C, though at a basic level seeing for the first time in person the dimension Wells brings to the court stood out. Also noticable: from leapers and wide bodies to size and speed to slashers and shooters, Maryland has the look of a team with all its bases covered. Fine, the point guard situation is arguably dicey and the Terps next succesful perimeter basket will be its first since the first half of Sunday's win. Still, considering where coach Mark Turgeon started from following several offseason departures, an impressive start - and one top 25 voters are noticing more and more.
4) Virginia Commonwealth (5-3): Shaka Smart's crew bounced back from losses to Duke and Missouri with two straight wins, including a 75-65 triumph over perennial mid-major threat Belmont on Saturday. Wing guard Treveon Graham scored 19 points and the Rams finished with a 34-23 rebounding advantage, but as always with a VCU box score, check the turnover column. Against the Rams relentless defensive pressure, Belmont finished with 22 miscues compared to VCU's 15. On the season VCU ranks 10th nationally in turnover margin. Creating havoc is what the Rams do and once again they are good at doing exactly that. Odd that Friday's matchup against Old Dominion is not a CAA game and that the Monarchs are limping in with a 1-7 record.
5) Virginia (6-2): Stop me if you heard this one before, but Tony Bennett's squad is doing work on the defensive end. Certainly the Cavaliers desire for a walk-it-up pace keeps scores low, but they are allowing only 52.9 points per game, sixth fewest among D-I teams. After starting the season 1-2, Virginia has strung together five straight wins including a bit of a stunner at Wisconsin behind 22 points from swingman and leading scorer Joe Harris. Another power conference challenge comes Wednesday against Tennessee, Virginia's last major test before opening its ACC schedule Jan. 6 against North Carolina.
And the bonus...
* George Washington, sporting a 4-3 record heading into Tuesday's tricky road test at Bradley (5-2), also had its share of turnovers in its BB&T Classic matchup. Like Maryland, the Colonials survived and then some, pulling off a 67-55 win over Manhattan. Isaiah Armwood's career-high 23 points and six blocks helped offset 21 turnovers. So did the latest efficient performance from guard Lasan Kromah, who tallied 18 points on 5 of 9 shooting. After a frequently trying 2011-12 which came on the heels of sitting out his sophomore season with a foot injury, Kromah is averaging 15.3 points on 64.9 percent shooting (24-37) from the field over his last four games in the starting lineup.
*Everyone familiar with the D.C. High School basketball and CAA scene knew about William & Mary guard Marcus Thornton following his impressive freshman campaign. More of the same and then some early through his sophomore campaign for the former Bishop McNamara star, including two stat-stuffing games last week. Thornton averaged 22.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.5 steals in William & Mary’s two games last week, enough to earn CAA Player of the Week honors.
*Speaking of CAA guard making an offensive impact, George Mason freshman Patrick Holloway's early scoring surge against Maryland made a believer out of the Terps head coach.