These things happened recently in the local college basketball world:
Maryland went 3-0 en route to winning the Paradise Jam Tournament.
George Washington took third place in the Wooden Legacy.
Georgetown claimed two victories in the consolation bracket of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off after an upset loss to Northeastern.
Therefore, who helped their postseason the chances the most? Not the Terps, but the George's, obviously and here's why.
*Before we get into the team specifics, note that the Paradise Jam was easily the weakest of the three fields
George Washington: defeated Miami and No. 20 Creighton, lost to Marquette
We'll start with the most obvious beneficiary of some holiday tournament victories. The Colonials are almost halfway to last season's 13-win total and can improve to 7-1 with a victory Wednesday night versus Rutgers. Picking up a victory over an AAC would be their third over a power conference program since Thanksgiving.
The Hurricanes are not last season's version that had sincere Final Four aspirations, but coach Jim Larranaga's squad epitomizes the term work-in-progress. Even if they don't crack the top half of the final ACC standings, there will be some solid victories along the way not to mention consistent RPI help because of the teams in the conference. Bottom line, we're talking about a power conference program, the kind GW went 0-7 against in coach Mike Lonergan's first two seasons with the Foggy Bottom program
George Washington then experienced life in the Big East. After a sound beating against No. 25 Marquette, George Washington took down No. 20 Creighton and All-American candidate Doug McDermott. The victory marked the Colonials first over a ranked opponent since 2005 and some in the national media excitedly talking about this as perhaps a "program changing win."
It's conceivable that ends up as GW's top win of the season or only triumph over a ranked opponent, though the Atlantic 10 current has two teams in the top-25 and neither is preseason faves VCU or Saint Louis. The victory assuredly made the college basketball world take notice while pushing the Colonials toward a potential NCAA Tournament at-large berth should they avoids injuries and the rugged A-10.
Wins this week over Rutgers - and most definitely Maryland on Sunday the BB&T wouldn't suck either, though currently neither would rank higher than Creighton
Georgetown: defeated Kansas State and No. 10 VCU, lost to Northeastern
As I wrote following the 2-1 trip to Puerto Rico, the Hoyas returned to the mainland with a mixed bag of results. There is no getting around the brutal setback against Northeastern, which currently sports a 2-5 record. No doubt if the Hoyas become one of those teams put under the "bubble" microscope come March, this setback comes under the "bad losses" section. However, Northeastern's rating according to KenPom.com is 122 - or four spots behind a Northern Iowa that we'll discuss in the next section (Yes, it's incredibly too early to focus on any kind of ratings metrics in any meaningful way. Lots will change. Consider them guideposts for now). If last season's CAA regular championship can rack up victories in conference play, Northeastern's RPI shouldn't fall into the rabbit hole and take Georgetown's résumé with it.
Now, to the Hoyas' wins over Kansas State and VCU. For starters, they meant Georgetown returned home with a winning record and help offset the WTH loss to Northeastern (similar deal for Maryland after the Terps lost at home to Oregon State before heading to the Paradise Jam).
From an overall perspective, both victories could likely stand as the Hoyas best non-conference wins of the season*. Even though VCU dropped out of the top-25 after losses to Georgetown and Florida State, Shaka Smart's team won't be on the outside for long. The Rams already own impressive road wins against Virginia and Belmont, and will pick up plenty more over the next three months.
Kansas State entered the season projected fifth in the Big 12, a conference currently sporting four ranked teams. Assuming they overcome their slow 4-3 start and put together a typical NCAA Tournament worthy season, a victory over the Wildcats -- especially a 27-point rout -- will look very nice for the Hoyas.
*Georgetown has two massive opportunities remaining: Dec 21 at Kansas and Feb. 1 against Michigan State at Madison Square Garden. Barring the unforeseen, coach John Thompson III's team won't be favored in either of them. The other non-Big East games, including versus High Point and Colgate this week, don't offer anywhere close to such RPI help.
Normally the non-conference portion of the schedule wouldn't be a major RPI hurdle for the Hoyas. Changes in the Big East change that. Villanova, Marquette and Creighton appear formidable. How many others from the BE will be in the NCAA Tourney mix, unclear. This is why Thompson scheduled several stout foes out-of-conference. This is why it's good the Hoyas picked up notable wins already.
Maryland: defeated Marist, Northern Iowa, Providence
Let's start with the positives. The Terps left Paradise (a.k.a. St. Thomas) with no bad losses or losses of any kind.
However, let's remove the tournament setting. As standalone victories, none of the three is net-cutting worthy.
Marist went 10-21 last season and is currently 0-7. Enough said.
Northern Iowa, off to a 3-4 start, finished third in the Missouri Valley last season and likely finishes top-4 this season. That's a decent win, but can't finish as a signature victory for the Terps.
Same situation with Providence, though the Friars are a wild card squad in the Big East due to an impressive collection of athletes without winning history. If their 7-2 start translates into Big East success, then Maryland might have a non-conference over a future NCAA Tournament team. We'll see about that.
Should the Terps win at No. 5 Ohio State on Wednesday or take down a handful of notable ACC opponents including Duke, Syracuse, Virginia and North Carolina, limited non-conference success won't matter much. That's a good thing if it happens, because unlike George Washington and Georgetown, Maryland likely won't be able to point to its in-season tournament wins for any get-off-the-bubble help.