March Madness 2011: D.C. area teams look toward the NCAA tournament
With the NCAA tournament selections coming up on March 13, area schools are looking at their respective seasons and asking one question: Is it enough to get in? Sure, dancing far into March Madness takes a different kind of endurance. But first, teams have to be invited to the dance in the first place. So here's where local teams seem to stand:
American University- As they look forward to the Patriot League championship, the Eagles have to be happy about how their season panned out. From Eric Saltzman at The Eagle: "The Eagles ended their regular season with a double-overtime 95-92 victory against the Lafayette Leopards Saturday in Easton, Pa. AU finished the regular season at 21-8, marking the third 20-win season for the team under Jeff Jones." So even if American doesn't make the tournament - which, depending on the results of forthcoming conference tournament play, they might - the program has shown definite upside.
George Mason University- ESPN's Eamonn Brennan tells Patriot fans to rest assured; the Patriots are gonna dance. As Pat Carroll - the assistant sports editor of the school's newspaper Broadside - explains, a variety of weapons make GMU a tough opponent: "The guard play has been sensational this year. Junior Andre Cornelius has been effective from behind the arc and has the speed to drive and provide an offensive spark. He’s averaging 10.1 points per game and is a key to how the offense is run. He can push the pace whenever he needs to and gets the ball to his main playmakers. Sophomore Luke Hancock has been a 'sneaky athletic, cagey and deceptive.' But don’t let the adjectives fool you, Hancock is a true athlete. Scoring 11.4 points per game, Hancock is so multi-dimensional, whether it’s scoring, passing, defending, and blocking shots. Both Cornelius and Hancock provide Cam Long with wingmen who can cut to the rim and make plays anywhere on the floor."
George Washington University- After going 15-13 earlier in the season, the Colonials' chances seemed pretty slim. But that hope is all but gone now that GW received a 16-point drubbing at hands of Temple at home. But, as Brennan points out, with such a strong year for power conferences like the Big East and Big 12, the only Atlantic 10 teams with a lock are Xavier and, you guessed it, Temple.
Georgetown University- Ranked 17th in the country and sporting a 21-8 record in one of the toughest conferences in college hoops? The Hoyas are a sure thing.
University of Maryland- Without a win against a ranked opponent, standing at 7th in the ACC, and coming off a loss to a rising UNC team, Maryland's hopes of making an NCAA tourney appearance grow dim. But could a deep ACC tournament run help them burst a bubble or two while inflating their own? Sure.
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