Local Basketball Questions Answered
Another late-season weekend yields some crucial answers to five crucial questions.
1) Are Virginia Tech and Maryland competing for the same NCAA tournament spot?
The NCAA poobahs would of course say that's not how it works, and I'm willing to believe that's true, but it's a lot more poetic to believe that they are. They're both 7-6 in the ACC. Maryland is 17-11 overall, the Hokies are 16-11. There's a fairly decent chance they could meet in the ACC quarters. They're sixth and seventh in ACC RPI, with the Hokies at 64 and the Terps at 66. Sure, both might go on crazy runs, or both might tank, but I'm predicting that one finds a way in and one does not.
(Other thoughts: Boom sez every game's a must-win, Prisbell sez the Terps need two out of three, Don Markus thinks they could still be in with one in the regular season and one in the tournament, David Teel thinks the Hokies need to go 3-0 down the stretch, while A.D. Vassallo says they're "in a good hunt." Also, the Times-Dispatch says VCU sent the selection committee a message by winning at Akron, and indeed, the Rams might be in the best at-large shape of the three.)
2) How many more Patriot League columns will John Feinstein write this season?
Over-under is seven. I mean, I love Jeff Jones as much as the next guy, but American's attendance last season was 1,740. This year, it's 1,687. And yet the plucky Eagles have been featured in a Feinstein column three straight years, and four out of the past six. Here's this year's offering, previewing this week's Navy-AU showdown. And yes, as the organizer of a poll that is regularly cracked by American University, I probably ought not criticize anyone for lending some ink to the Bender Boyz.
3) Ok now I feel bad. How 'bout some better AU press? So let's ask: Does size matter?
American University is, according to the irreplaceable Ken Pomeroy via a commenter, the 321st tallest team in the country. And yet the Eagles are in first place. The 323rd tallest team in the country? First-place UMBC, ranked No. 5 in the Atlantic 11. The 326th tallest team? Robert Morris, first place in the Northeast. The 329th tallest team? Stephen F. Austin, first place in the Southland (West). Some of the short teams are monumentally bad: Presbyterian (332nd) is 5-24, Monmouth (322nd) is 6-22, Jacksonville State (338th) is 6-21 and the shortest team in the country, Ball State, is 5-21.
But regardless, the Atlantic 11 is home to two of the best short teams in the land.
4) Was Saturday the best college hoops day in Baltimore history?
Ok, that's probably strong. The best this year how about. Five Baltimore teams played on the same afternoon, and all five won. Three are in first place in their leagues--UMBC, Loyola and Morgan State--one pulled a fairly shocking upset (Coppin State over Hampton) and the fifth, Towson, well, at least the Tigers won. The Balto Sun's Rick Maese managed to make it to all five games.
5) Will Foggy Bottom host a bit of history this coming weekend?
Could be. There are two
undefeated winless teams in all of Division I: the N.J.I.T men (0-29) and the Fordham women (0-27). N.J.I.T. isn't in a league, though, and thus is sort of in a different realm. The Fordham women face a pretty good Charlotte team at home on Wednesday; if they lose that, they can cruise into the Bottom to face the 17th ranked Colonials with a chance to polish off their perfect year. No men's or women's teams are undefeated, so Fordham's women might be as unblemished as we get, and it could happen right here.
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