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Local Poll Week IV: Big South Rising

Navy misses out on a chance to move into the top five. (Photo by Luis Alvarez - AP; design by Ian Oland.)

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
--Next: Off.
--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
--Next: Off.
--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
--Next: Off.
--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
--Next: Off.
--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.

By Dan Steinberg  |  December 8, 2008; 3:46 PM ET
Categories:  Atlantic 11 , College Basketball  
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The Atlantic 10 is absolutely a mid-major conference, with one high major program.

Posted by: Kev29 | December 8, 2008 4:08 PM | Report abuse

I feel like my pith has no swag.

Posted by: WaPoLiveFan16 | December 8, 2008 4:22 PM | Report abuse

I assume you mean Xavier, but there's been UMass, Temple, and St. Joe's with periods of high rankings, plus GW and Dayton in there at times too. GW was ranked #6 a couple of years ago, and St. Joe's was #1 for a brief while.

Posted by: awiseman1 | December 8, 2008 5:07 PM | Report abuse

my main problem with the term "mid-major" is that it's applied to all teams from the 25 conferences outside the "Big 6". i think the "majors" should include the A-10, MVC, MWC and CUSA, while everything below say, the Sun Belt should be considered "low-majors".

on a voting note - c'mon JMU apologists, the Dukes just lost to Longwood so please stop voting for them. the football team is in the Final Four, isn't that enough? the Loyola voters should be taking a hard look in the mirror as well (although in a mirror, i suppose their record might look like 7-2).

Posted by: dimesmakedollars | December 8, 2008 8:04 PM | Report abuse

Dan Steinberg broke my pith.

Posted by: eangevine | December 8, 2008 9:06 PM | Report abuse

Since I had a client crisis this morning and didn't get to vote, I now see why coaches pass this gig onto SID's.

Posted by: StetSportsBlog | December 8, 2008 9:38 PM | Report abuse

Kinda hard to see Mason over Liberty, or American over Richmond or Old Dominion. I guess the Metro area bias is alive and well.

Posted by: MTrogdon | December 9, 2008 9:26 AM | Report abuse

Agreed, MT. I have Liberty ahead of Mason and American and ODU out of the Top 10. I also have Navy 4th, which seems like it can't last, but they have won more games than anyone else and that has to count for something.

Posted by: fitzfacts | December 9, 2008 9:55 AM | Report abuse

I assume you mean Xavier, but there's been UMass, Temple, and St. Joe's with periods of high rankings

Posted by: awiseman1 | December 8, 2008 5:07 PM

"Been" is the operative word in that sentence! Sorry, just frustrated with the 1 step forward, 2 steps back nature of every school in the A10. Except Xavier, of course, we're just awesome.

Posted by: Kev29 | December 9, 2008 10:48 AM | Report abuse

I see that SOS and head-to-head count as much in these rankings as they do in the BCS.

Navy almost edges VT, yet they're sitting at 8 and an overrated VT is sitting at 3? Navy shouldn't sink that far due to a furious VT rally.

UVA defeats VMI, loses by 3 AT Cuse and loses AT Minn, yet is sitting at 9. Bad loss to Liberty should boost Liberty, but not totally sink UVA.

GMU and VCU getting great benefit by not considering SOS.

Posted by: VamosUnited | December 9, 2008 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, fitzfacts...I'm with you.

I had Liberty 5 and Mason 6. I had ODU at 11 and American out completely.

My picks have been pretty fluid, though. I had Mason at #2 last week, but after watching them in that Liberty game, and seeing Maryland and VT play in the ACC-Big Ten challenge, I think that was a bit aggressive.

Posted by: MTrogdon | December 9, 2008 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Does the godfather of DC basketball have it in for his former player, Horace Broadnax? Did JT III have an ax to grind on his father's behalf, or his own behalf? 100-38 over Savannah State? Damn.

Posted by: rdpinva | December 9, 2008 8:18 PM | Report abuse

Virginia gets back in my top 10 if they beat Longwood. Gotta be over .500.

Posted by: fitzfacts | December 9, 2008 8:45 PM | Report abuse

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