Local Poll Week IV: Big South Rising
It's been a dodgy few weeks for the Atlantic 11, our motley assortment of Division I men's basketball programs from D.C., Maryland and Virginia. We've had ACC teams lose to low-majors, highly regarded league favorites get blown off the court, upstarts follow-up massive upsets with six-game losing streaks, and a whole bunch of middle-of-the-road teams beat up on each other.
But one thing is clear through four weeks: this is the best start, by far, in the three-year history of the Atlantic 11, for the Big South. Things only got better this week, with Liberty and VMI rising to sixth and seventh, respectively. To put that in some perspective, we have two Big South teams ranked ahead of two Atlantic 10 teams. I can't tell you how many e-mails I've gotten over the years from GW fans who insist "mid-major" is a purposefully pejorative word when used to describe their conference. Anyhow.
Anyhow, confusion reigns in the minds of our voters, with three schools (George Mason, VCU and Liberty) receiving votes for every spot from 2nd through 10th. Georgetown is unanimous again, receiving 69 first-place votes, and Maryland is a comfortable second, but the rest is a mishmash, with 13 teams receiving at least one top-five vote.
While there was massive shuffling, the top 11 remain the same. Also remaining the same: I haven't been to a college basketball game this season, although I've been to lots of excellent football press conferences. Rankings and pith after the jump.
1. Georgetown (5-1) 690 (69)
--Next: Tonight vs. Savannah State, Saturday vs. Memphis.
--I am guessing John Thompson III will pass on the opportunity to invite Allen Iverson as a guest shooting instructor this week. (John Albers)
2. Maryland (6-2) 593
--Next: Friday vs. Delaware State.
--The best team in the state of Michigan. Including the Lions, obviously. (Max Wass)
3. Virginia Tech (5-3) 455
--Next: Tuesday at Georgia, Sunday vs. Longwood.
--Stop me if you've heard this one: A man walks into a bar. He drinks hard for 40 minutes, and the bartender decides it's time for him to leave. So as he's stumbling out, at the last second, he turns around and hits a shot to beat Virginia Tech. (Paul Campbell)
4. George Mason (6-2) 409
--Jim Larranaga's quixotic promise to "intentional foul our way to the CAA title" is still holding up. (Matt Bonesteel)
5. VCU (5-3) 368
--Next: Saturday at Richmond.
--Joey Rodriguez could teach Shaun Suisham a thing or two about three-pointers. (Scott Allen)
6. Liberty (6-2) 314
--Crazy idea, I'm sure. But if Dell Curry has another son, maybe a big-time program should start recruiting him now. (Markus Videnieks)
7. VMI (6-2) 190
--Next: Tuesday vs. Campbell, Saturday vs. Southern Wesleyan.
--Amazingly, the win against Kentucky might have lowered the Keydets' RPI. (Chris Chase)
8. Navy (7-2) 189
--Next: Tuesday at Mount St. Mary's.
--Coach Billy Lange has proposed changing academy motto of "from knowledge, seapower," to "from knowledge, three-pointers." (Bill Fitzgerald)
9. Virginia (3-3) 144
--Due to recent struggles, UVa has considered changing its athletic department motto from "Uncompromised Excellence" to the more accurate "At Least We're Still Better Than Longwood. Maybe." (Sean McLernon)
10. George Washington (3-2) 134
--Next: Saturday vs. Harvard.
--Turning the ball over on more than 23 percent of their possessions. If their namesake had performed so poorly, we'd all be sipping tea and using words like "knackered" right now. (Jamie Paquette)
11. American (4-4) 86
--Falling faster than an auto executive's 401(k). (Glenn Arnold)
Also receiving votes: Richmond 43, Hampton 32, Old Dominion 22, UMBC 16, Mount St. Mary's 14, Towson 14, Longwood 6, Loyola 6, James Madison 3, William & Mary 2.
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