- No, Kemba Walker's not celebrating knocking Georgetown off the top spot of our power rankings. Though maybe he should be. (Photo: Associated Press)
We have three weeks to go until Selection Sunday, and for the first time since we've started this weekly survey of the area's men's college basketball teams, the Georgetown Hoyas have been overtaken at the top of the list. And if you've followed this blog's writings on college basketball for any length of time, you probably have a good idea who that team is.
Here's the thing about George Mason's 77-71 win at Northern Iowa on Saturday: the Patriots didn't really need to win that game, despite the ESPN BracketBuster hype. They had just displayed their CAA title credentials for the world to see on Tuesday night with a thumping 71-51 win at Virginia Commonwealth. The expected letdown from that win and the fact that they were playing a desperate Northern Iowa team that currently sits outside the field of 68 should have meant the end of Mason's winning streak. Instead, the Patriots outscored the Panthers 45-35 in the second half to rally from an early deficit and win their 13th in a row. Yeah, in case we haven't convinced you yet, this team is really, really good, and they can wrap up the regular season CAA title with a game to spare Thursday night at the Patriot Center (where they're 13-0 this season) against struggling Northeastern.
Likely Tournament Seed: A firm No. 8, but they could go even higher with a strong finish in the CAA Tournament.
This Week: Thursday vs. Northeastern (7:00 p.m., CSN), Saturday at Georgia State (6:00 p.m.)
2. Georgetown (21-6, 10-5 Big East) RealTimeRPI Rank: 5th
As conference losses go, there are far worse ones to suffer than on the road against Connecticut when Kemba Walker goes for 31 points, which is exactly what happened to Georgetown Wednesday. The Hoyas did well to shake the loss off and take care of business Saturday against a bad South Florida team. The key for them now is to stay among the top four in the Big East standings, which would earn themselves a double bye and an automatic place in the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament.
Likely Tournament Seed: As of this week, I still think the Hoyas are a solid No. 3 seed, though some of the harsher members of our hypothetical committee might drop them down to a 4 seed after the UCONN loss.
This Week: Wednesday vs. Cincinnati (9:00 p.m., MASN), Saturday vs. Syracuse (12:00 p.m., CBS).
3. Maryland (17-10, 6-6 ACC) RealTimeRPI Rank: 94th
Stopped their two-game losing streak and kept their tournament hopes alive with a closer-than-it-maybe-should-have-been 87-80 win over North Carolina State in College Park on Sunday. Now comes the final, season-defining four-game stretch of the season.
Work Left to Do: Realistically, if the Terps don't want to have to win the ACC Tournament to get a bid, they must win their last four games. And even if they do manage to pull that off, it'll still take a deep run in Greensboro (think semifinals or finals) to solidify Maryland's resume in the minds of the committee.
This Week: Wednesday vs. Florida State (9:00 p.m., ACC Network, check local listings), Sunday at North Carolina (7:45 p.m., CSN).
4. American (19-8, 9-3 Patriot League) RealTimeRPI Rank: 112th
Actually, at this point, American probably has a slightly better chance of making the NCAA Tournament than Maryland does. With two games left to play in the regular season, the Eagles are locked into the second seed in the Patriot League Tournament and are guaranteed to host both their quarterfinal and semifinal games.
Work Left to Do: Win the Patriot League Tournament.
This Week: Wednesday vs. Navy (7:30 p.m.), Saturday at Lafayette (4:00 p.m.)
5. George Washington (14-12, 7-5 A-10) RealTimeRPI Rank: 151st
Managed to hang on and win a close one over the weekend at LaSalle. Remarkably, the Colonials still have an outside shot of landing in the top four in the Atlantic 10 and getting an automatic bye into the quarterfinals in Atlantic City. They currently sit two games behind 4th-place Duquesne with four games still to play.
Work Left to Do: Win Atlantic 10 Tournament.
This Week: Wednesday vs. Charlotte (7:00 p.m.), Saturday vs. Temple (2:00 p.m., CBS College Sports, check local listings).
6. Howard (6-20, 4-9 MEAC) RealTimeRPI Rank: 333rd
As has happened since this feature began running, Howard split their two games this past week, losing at Norfolk State on Monday, but recovering to beat Florida A&M 59-50. We see no issue whatsoever with giving ourselves credit for three of the Bison's four MEAC wins so far this season.
Work Left to Do: Win the MEAC Tournament. Hey, it could happen.
This Week: Monday vs. Bethune-Cookman (8:00 p.m.), Saturday at Maryland-Eastern Shore (4:00 p.m.).