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Posted at 8:32 AM ET, 01/31/2011

NCAA tournament 2011: Maryland, Georgetown, Virginia Tech, George Mason

By Eric Prisbell

With the NFL playoffs taking the weekend off, many sports fans for the first time this winter witnessed what this season's college basketball landscape is all about. And it's about parity. Rather than run down all of the upsets this weekend, let me just point this out: 14 teams in the Associated Press top 25 have now lost their last game. And that does not even include Ohio State, Pittsburgh and Michigan State winning games by three points of less. Almost everyone ranked that could lose did so, or so it seems. So the NCAA tournament picture was altered to some degree. Let's check out where some of the contending local teams stand today:

Georgetown
Record: 16-5
RPI: 5
SOS: 3
Vs. top 50: 6-5
Best win: at Villanova (14)
Worst loss: at Temple (40)
Road-neutral court: 9-3
As of today: No. 4 seed
Comment: A four-game winning streak in the Big East is akin to a six-game winning streak in the ACC or another lesser league. As mentioned before, Georgetown's placement in the NCAA tournament could change dramatically the next few weeks - for better or worse - because of the opportunity to play so many top 50 RPI teams. With back-to-back wins over top 25 RPI teams - and the St. John's win looks even better now that Steve Lavin's team knocked off Duke - the Hoyas find themselves in position to claim a top-four seed ... at the moment. But there is no rest. Louisville awaits tonight. And seven of Georgetown's remaining nine regular season opponents are in position to claim at-large NCAA tournament berths. The Hoyas have a chance to keep climbing.

Virginia Tech
Record: 14-6
RPI: 68
SOS: 80
Vs. top 50: 1-4
Best win: Penn State (46)
Worst loss: at Georgia Tech (156)
Road-neutral court: 6-4
As of today: No. 11-12 seed
Comment: The Hokies are in the NCAA tournament as of today, but their margin for error remains slim. Both Maryland and VT have been aided by Penn State finding success in Big Ten play. The Nittany Lions have climbed into the RPI's top 50 and are in contention for an at-large bid. The bad news for the Hokies is that Oklahoma State has regressed, is now on the bubble and is out of the RPI's top 50. OK State represents Tech's other solid non-conference win. Tech has two black marks - losses to Virginia and Georgia Tech - but nine or 10 ACC wins will put Tech in decent position to claim a bid. The Hokies have just three games left against top 50 teams, including two against Boston College.

Maryland
Record: 14-7
RPI: 70
SOS: 61
Vs. top 50: 1-6
Best win: at Penn State (46)
Worst loss: Virginia Tech (68)
Road-neutral court: 4-5
As of today: bubble, likely out of the tournament
Comment: Regardless of the quality of opponent, Maryland is doing what many bubble team are failing to do: winning games. The Terps still don't have a signature win or a ghastly loss. They have missed several opportunities against quality top 50 teams. They only have a 3-7 record against top 100 teams. But as watered down as the field of bubble teams appears to be this season, the Terps have a chance if they can avoid a bad loss and rack up at least nine ACC wins and then make some noise in the league tournament. I don't think beating Duke on Wednesday is a necessity, although it would clearly give Maryland an unquestioned quality victory. Only three regular season games remain against top 50 teams. And two - Boston College and North Carolina - are on the road. The other is against Duke. Maryland may need to win two of those three games. (Florida State may sneak back into the top 50 at some point, as well.)

George Mason
Record: 17-5
RPI: 33
SOS: 79
Vs. top 50: 1-1
Best win: Harvard (50)
Worst loss: vs. Wofford (147)
Road-neutral court: 7-5
As of today: bubble
Comment: Mason finds itself in more and more mock brackets because it is winning games, even though it is not playing elite competition. The Patriots have won seven straight and now have a 4-4 record against top 100 teams. The best win this season is against a Harvard team that should remain in the top 50 if it does not lose more than one more game. The CAA is in decent position to earn multiple tournament bids. The Old Dominion game on Feb. 5 is one that would give the Patriots another top 50 win and a reputation boost .. if they can win.

By Eric Prisbell  | January 31, 2011; 8:32 AM ET
 
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Next: NCAA tournament 2011: How watered down is the 68-team field?

Comments

Who cares about Va Tech and why is it tracked like a "local' team? In a short count, I found:
*8 D1 colleges in Maryland that the Post doesn't monitor.
*13 D1 colleges in VA that are as close or closer to DC than VA Tech that the Post doesn't Monitor,including ACC rival UVA.
* 2 D1 colleges in Del. that are closer to DC than VA Tech that the Post doesn't monitor.
* 14 D1 colleges in PA that are closer than VA Tech that the Post doesn't monitor
* 2 DC colleges that the Post doesn't monitor
So, with little effort I found 39 D1 schools that have a greater claim on the DC area than Va Tech.
Yes, there are many VA Tech graduates in the DC area but I would guess their numbers are no greater than a lot of other schools that the Post wouldn't / doesn't give the time of day two.
I truly am sick of a school located 268 miles from our area getting the home town treatment from the local newspaper. It stinks that I can get a Va Tech game to come in better on the radio than I can a MD game.
Seriously, I have nothing against Tech, but they are not and should not be treated like a local team. The "alumni" theroy is crap when you have 39 other schools besides Georgetown and MD that are truly far more local.

Va Tech shouldn't get any more attention or love than any other out of area college.

With the Post's circulation falling, maybe putting in an emphasis on local news / events / sports would help drive your numbers up. I don't see the masses in Blacksburg saving your paper.

But what do I know, I am not an owner of a newspaper that is lossing money.

Posted by: tzj20874 | January 31, 2011 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Vtech is not local, that much is obvious. What may not be as obvious is Vtech has thousands of diehard fans living in and around DC. The WaPost is going to cover them because of this. That's the bottom line. The readers dictate what they cover and how much they cover them. MD womens hoops are doing better than the mens team, but there's virtually no mention of anything about the womens team on the Terp Insider because not enough people care. Vtech has enough people clicking on the WaPo stories about their team to justify the amount of coverage they get. That's how it works tzj20874.

Posted by: Barno1 | January 31, 2011 11:36 AM | Report abuse

tzj20874, I agree with you 100% -- Why is VT tracked as a "local" team? UVa closer in proximity to the DC Metro Area and is more of a "local" team than VT.

Posted by: LaserGuidedBomb | January 31, 2011 12:07 PM | Report abuse

All of the numbers may mean something to you and to the selection committee, but in the end it's about Wins vs Losses when it matters.

George Mason is on the bubble as well as the Terps, but GM is more likely to make it than the Terps? Statistically, maybe so. If they played each other Maryland would smash them. Aren't the best teams supposed to make it and the lesser teams will not? I know the point is to spread the wealth, not team vs team necessarily. I guess that's an admirable goal.

For Maryland it will be the ACC tournament if they can't do it during the season. And I think they will make it to the NCAA and could win it all if things go their way.

Posted by: tojo45 | January 31, 2011 12:23 PM | Report abuse

question about this:

"The Hokies have just three games left against top 50 teams, including two against Boston College."

so if they beat BC twice, then those two losses will probably drop BC out of the top 50, and then not end up counting for anything in terms of top-50 wins anyways, right?

Posted by: joe_hill | January 31, 2011 12:45 PM | Report abuse

In response to Maryland smashing George Mason, tell your boy Gary Williams to schedule Mason if they would "smash" them...pretty sure the powers that be at Maryland don't feel the same way about this one as you do

Posted by: DCCapsfan19 | January 31, 2011 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Gary has no problem scheduling Mason...he's done it many times in the past. Problem is, Mason thinks they are entitled to a home and home series...which they are not. Mid Majors play power conference teams on the road the vast majority of the time. Mason should be no different. Come play us at UMD if you want to play. Otherwise, there is very little in it for MD to go play at Mason, where I admit they'd have a chance to lose, but even if they win it doesn't help MD's resume most seasons (albeit this year it may have). So, there's lots to risk and little to gain for Umd to play a home and home with Mason.

Posted by: Barno1 | January 31, 2011 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Why shouldn't Mason hold out for a home-and-home (or a 2-and-1) with Maryland?

Mason has earned the right to expect a home-game in a series with a team like Maryland. I mean, the Terps are a strong program historically and play in a great conference, but which school played in the Final Four more recently?

As for Maryand having nothing to gain and everything to lose playing Mason, that's a convenient excuse. But Mason's RPI is usually Top 50 or 60 the past few years and after the run in 06 no one would laugh at or penalize a program like Maryland for losing to Mason.

Posted by: mercedeskk | January 31, 2011 2:10 PM | Report abuse

@Barno1:

Lol, so your argument is: Maryland would beat Mason unless they played at Mason, therefore not scheduling mason HandH is legit?

That is the kind of self serving anti-logic that props up the whiny cries for a 3rd tier ACC team to make the field.

I'm pretty sure Mason has offered to play neutral locations and in 'preseason' tourneys with Maryland to build a local rivalry. Gary Williams got sore at Mason because they have done a good job recruiting in what he considers his back yard. It all adds up to sour grapes.

I have no problem if GMU misses the field because they don't win their tourney. That is the way it goes for the Mids most seasons. I also have no problem is a team like Mason makes the field for having an exceptional year in a Mid Major conference, while a mediocre team from a Major conference stays home. Everyone gets the same deal. Win games == control your destiny.
Lose games == hope the fates have your back.

Either way, a Mason Maryland game would be interesting this year and most. Maryland just needs to make it happen, then we would see about all the smashings.

Posted by: gconrads | January 31, 2011 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Maryland smashing Mason is a one of the dumbest things I have ever read. UMD is the definition of an entitled program that feels they deserve to get into the tourney because of the league they play in. As for the nothing to gain argument - how would Maryland not benefit from playing on the road against a team with an RPI of 33. If you're so confident they'd win they should definitely schedule and maybe improve their terrible 1-6 record against the top 50 RPI. Actually - with an RPI as low as UMD's, I think even losing to Mason would be increase your RPI.

Way to know nothing about what your talking about.

Posted by: NateMinarik | January 31, 2011 3:03 PM | Report abuse

"George Mason is on the bubble as well as the Terps, but GM is more likely to make it than the Terps? Statistically, maybe so. If they played each other Maryland would smash them."

Posted by: tojo45

-------------------------

Ha! This would be the Maryland team with the RPI of 70? What a joke.

Subpar ACC teams love to think they are better than the George Masons of the world but the fact is that Maryland has been pretty mediocre since the last last time they made it past the Sweet 16 (2003). Only 2 of the last 7 season have they even been better than .500 in the ACC!

And they would "smash" Mason? I guess we'll never know for sure because Gary is afraid of them and every other quality mid-major, but I think this GMU team would beat Maryland handily on a neutral court, let alone at home.

The "mids don't deserve" home-and-home series is simply designed to keep the traditional powers as powers, no matter how weak they are.

And Maryland is weak!

Posted by: PrinceBuster21 | January 31, 2011 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Maryland smashing Mason is a one of the dumbest things I have ever read. UMD is the definition of an entitled program that feels they deserve to get into the tourney because of the league they play in. As for the nothing to gain argument - how would Maryland not benefit from playing on the road against a team with an RPI of 33. If you're so confident they'd win they should definitely schedule and maybe improve their terrible 1-6 record against the top 50 RPI. Actually - with an RPI as low as UMD's, I think even losing to Mason would be increase your RPI.

Way to know nothing about what your talking about.

Posted by: NateMinarik
--------------------------------

Bingo.

Losing to a school like Mason would not be a "bad loss" for Maryland, even at home. And beating them in Fairfax would be a good win.

Maryland hasn't even been able to get to .500 in the ACC in 5 of the last 7 seasons.

Maryland has become a mediocre program since 2003 and Gary is afraid of Mason and other quality "mid-majors."

Posted by: PrinceBuster21 | January 31, 2011 3:16 PM | Report abuse

It's a shame that so many of my fellow Terp fans are stuck in the past. The notion of avoiding home and homes from 'non-BCS' conferences is so antiquated.

I think a useful compare/contrast for Maryland is Florida. They're a program that had tremendous success in the last decade, but now find themselves struggling with consistency. But look at a big difference with Florida this year (a team with talent, but not overwhelmingly good - like Maryland). The Gators have a much more balanced schedule that has helped their quality wins and RPI as we inch closer to March. Some key Florida games:

Ohio St. (h - loss)

Florida St. (a - win. Rival, constant home and home)

Kansas St. (h - win)

at Xavier (a - win. Part of home and home with non-BCS school. Lost at home last season)

Rhode Island (h - win)

Balanced schedule, uneven results, but their strength of schedule and the couple high quality wins have them in everyone's bracket right now. Even with some crappy results this season (Jacksonville, Miss St). Maryland would be better off losing to a local rival like G'town or Mason away than they are beating every cupcake on their Comcast Center schedule.

Posted by: Kev29 | January 31, 2011 3:36 PM | Report abuse

The Gators have a much more balanced schedule that has helped their quality wins and RPI as we inch closer to March. Some key Florida games:

Ohio St. (h - loss)

Florida St. (a - win. Rival, constant home and home)

Kansas St. (h - win)

at Xavier (a - win. Part of home and home with non-BCS school. Lost at home last season)

Rhode Island (h - win)

-------------------------------------------

More balanced schedule...are you kidding me?

Pittsburgh
Illinois
Temple
Villanova

Besides Ohio State, these four teams are tougher than any of those other teams you listed that Florida played. Maryland's problem is they didnt win any of those games.

Posted by: ams1986 | January 31, 2011 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Pittsburgh (n)
Illinois (n)
Temple (n)
Villanova (a)

My point is they're not giving themselves a chance to win more quality home games - because they don't play enough quality home games. That's the 'balance' I was referring to.

Posted by: Kev29 | January 31, 2011 4:01 PM | Report abuse

barno1 - I understand how it works, but it's very flawed logic. I would bet there are are more fans for, say Penn State as an example, in the DC region than there are VA Tech. You don't see PSU being covered as a local team. I bet Notre Dame has more followers in this area than VA Tech and ND isn't covered like a local team.

For whatever reason the Post (maybe an editor, a head writer, a family member of the publisher, etc) has a Love On for Va Tech.

Covering Va Tech like a local team isn't adding sales, ads, circulation or web site hits. If they really wanted to increase circulation by covering local schools they would, I don't know, cover local schools.

I have no doubt it's one persons choice to stuff Tech down our throats and that person is a huge part of the reason why the Post is failing.

A monkey with a DC Public School Education could figure that VA Tech isn't local and ignoring local teams in favor of covering Tech is just a bad business choice.

If the Post really wanted to cover the colleges that woul impact sales, they could easily figure it out through the alumni sites of the 39 schools I mentioned in my previous post. They could also have some fun with it and do an on-line survey asking "what college / university" would you like to see more coverage"? They could also ask the same thing in reverse "what college / university would you like to see less coverage"?

If they wanted to appeal to their readers and discover new readers (opening up more marking opportunities which would create more ad dollars, meaning a more successsful newspaper) they could easily do so.

Posted by: tzj20874 | January 31, 2011 4:05 PM | Report abuse

I would bet there are are more fans for, say Penn State as an example, in the DC region than there are VA Tech.

Posted by: tzj20874 | January 31, 2011 4:05 PM

This was pretty much disproven last season when VT outdrew Penn State at FedEx Field. Virginia Tech's largest alumni area is Northern Virginia. Northern Virginia is very much in this area. Penn State have more alums in Philly than here. Just get over it - I have.

Posted by: Kev29 | January 31, 2011 4:14 PM | Report abuse

@Barno1:

Lol, so your argument is: Maryland would beat Mason unless they played at Mason, therefore not scheduling mason HandH is legit?

Posted by: gconrads | January 31, 2011 2:11 PM | Report abuse

"Straw man" is one of the best-named fallacies, because it is memorable and vividly illustrates the nature of the fallacy. Imagine a fight in which one of the combatants sets up a man of straw, attacks it, then proclaims victory. All the while, the real opponent stands by untouched.

I understand it may be more difficult for you to actually argue against my actual position (That there is very little to gain playing Mason and much to lose--which is why we don't play them in home and homes). But just because it's harder for you to argue against my actual position, doesn't mean it's cool to invent a position I didn't take, put those words in my mouth, and then knock down that invented position.

Posted by: Barno1 | January 31, 2011 4:32 PM | Report abuse

"As for the nothing to gain argument - how would Maryland not benefit from playing on the road against a team with an RPI of 33."

I guess we are starting to see the difference between a UMD education and a George Mason education. Apparently they don't teach reading comprehension over at Mason. Apparently, all of you have missed the part where I said: "even if they win it doesn't help MD's resume most seasons (albeit this year it may have)."

Which part of "albeit this year it may have" did the George Mason grads not understand?

Posted by: Barno1 | January 31, 2011 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Some day, I hope to be able to post
"Mason > Maryland" and it won't be just fandom talking.
Until then, simply put:
GO, MASON!

Posted by: WaPoPimp | January 31, 2011 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Why does the post continue to treat UMd like a local team when they can't sell out their own stadium. They should focus on teams like VT that sell out Fed Ex.

I live in VA and we could care less about UMd.

Posted by: amuse_me_some_more | January 31, 2011 5:50 PM | Report abuse

Barno1 - I think the reason people are having trouble understanding you is because your statement is illogical. For the last 6 years, Mason has had the better RPI 3 times (06, 08, 11 - so far) and had a nearly identical RPI in 09 (MD-50,GMU-59). So a more correct statement would be: USUALLY, playing Mason would help MD, albeit not last year.

Posted by: anon7 | January 31, 2011 5:50 PM | Report abuse

Correction: RPI in 09 - (MD-50, GMU-51)

Posted by: anon7 | January 31, 2011 5:52 PM | Report abuse

"Mason thinks they are entitled to a home and home series...which they are not. Mid Majors play power conference teams on the road the vast majority of the time."

Funny, Georgetown must have missed that memo. I seem to remember the Hoyas traveling to ODU twice the past few years, as well as playing road games at: Tulane, Savannah State, Ball State, Fairfield and Jacksonville. The real question is if GU played at Maryland, would that be another road game against a mid-major?

Posted by: kchoya | January 31, 2011 6:45 PM | Report abuse

How does this guy Prisbell still have a job?

Posted by: nford2 | January 31, 2011 6:55 PM | Report abuse

Who cares about Virginia Tech? I do. As do tens of thousands of Hokie alumni in the area. The school may be in Blacksburg, but people read papers, not places.

Posted by: gbrown4 | February 7, 2011 4:29 AM | Report abuse

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