DMV hoops preview: UVA, Terps bubbling; CAA tourney

DMV hoops preview: UVA, Terps bubbling; CAA tourney
March 4, 2013, 4:45 pm
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Some teams in the DMV are closing down the regular season while others are already in postseason mode.

Georgetown (23-4, 13-3 Big East): The No. 5 team in the country plays at Villanova on Wednesday before hosting Syracuse in the mother of all regular season finales on Saturday. After starting conference play 0-2, the Hoyas sit atop the Big East standings, one game ahead of Louisville and Marquette. Funny what an 11-game winning streak can do. Georgetown has clinched a top-4 seed in the conference tournament, meaning a two-round bye into the quarterfinal for JTIII's squad. The Hilltop crew owns a head-to-head tiebreaker over Louisville (Cincinnati, Notre Dame) and split two games with Marquette (at Rutgers, at St. John's), but arguably has the hardest remaining schedule.

VCU (23-6, 11-3 A-10): Already locked into the NCAA Tournament at-large pool, the Rams demolished No. 20 Butler 84-52 on Saturday, thus remaining one game behind Atlantic 10-leading Saint Louis and a game ahead of LaSalle. Of course, the Billikens have won 11 straight and defeated VCU in the only meeting between the two teams this season. Now Shaka Smart directs his Havoc-wrecking squad into a revenge matchup against Richmond on Wednesday followed by a Sunday date at Temple, also a likely NCAA Tourney team.

Speaking of "Havoc," the brand name for VCU's relentless pressure defense, ESPN's John Gasaway posted a fascinating statistical look at the turnover-creating Rams' postseason chances. For those without an Insider account, the basic summation is all those turnovers are not simply a component of the Rams game plan but by far the leading indicator for success.

Virginia (20-9, 10-6 ACC): Apparently, the Cavaliers decided their NCAA Tournament resume wasn't tricky enough for the selection committee so they added another unsightly RPI loss (53-52 at BC) right after defeating Duke. Seven of Virginia's 10 losses have come against teams with an RPI of 127 or lower with four against teams outside the top-150. Good news, the Cavaliers final two games - Thursday at Florida State, Sunday against Maryland - are against top-100 foes. Granted, now Virginia must do no worse than split those games to feel confident about its at-large chances.

Maryland (20-9, 8-8 ACC): The regular season's final week plays out Wednesday against North Carolina, Sunday at Virginia. Realistically it's ACC Tournament title or bust for the Terps thanks to their inadequate non-conference resume. Then again, with the soft at-large pool and a never-ending string of inexplicable losses nationwide, maybe Maryland wins its final two games and makes a deep run in the ACC tourney and...probably not, especially if Virginia pulls off the season sweep. At least, as of last week anyway, the Terps should end up with a high seed if they are NIT-bound.

George Washington (12-15, 6-8 Atlantic 10: No sleep till Brooklyn for the Colonials. The top-12 teams advance to the conference tournament at the Barclays Center. GW enters the week in a 3-way tie for 11th with Charlotte and Dayton. Good news, coach Mike Lonergan's team owns the head-to-head tiebreaker over Charlotte. Bad news, the Colonials have lost five of six games. The regular season finale against Dayton at the Smith Center could indeed be a play-in game. George Washington has not played in the A 10 Tourney main draw since the 2006-07 season.

CAA: The seven-team, three-day conference tournament begins Saturday in Richmond with fourth-seeded George Mason facing No. 5 Drexel at 3:30 followed by No. 2 Delaware vs. seventh-seeded Hofstra and third-seeded JMU against No. 6 William & Mary. Regular season champion Northeastern receives a bye into the semifinal round, though there should be a push for recount after the Huskies fell behind by 25 points to Old Dominion before losing to the CAA's cellar dweller. Realistically, of the seven teams, only Hofstra does not have a puncher's chance of earning the auto bid. Currently on a two-game skid, George Mason (17-13, 10-8) last won three in a row Jan 15-23. William & Mary (13-16, 7-11) pulled off three straight victories in mid-February.

MAAC: Loyola (21-10, 12-6) begins its quest for back-to-back NCAA appearances as the No. 3 seed. The Greyhounds face sixth-seeded Manhattan after beating the Jaspers 63-61 on Sunday. Niagara won the regular season crown.

Patriot: Maybe American is going with the sneak attack approach entering the conference tournament, having lost four straight. The Eagles (10-19, 5-9) play Army on Wednesday after having lost twice to the Cadets this season.

MEAC: Norfolk State (19-10, 14-0), which has not lost since Jan. 2, yet remains only one game ahead of second-place North Carolina Central. The Spartans close the regular season with home games against Florida A&M and North Carolina A&T.