DMV in the NCAA's: Championship Week preview

DMV in the NCAA's: Championship Week preview
March 12, 2013, 5:45 am
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 Georgetown (24-5, 14-4)

Notable: Hoyas won share of Big East regular season title, tied with Louisville and Marquette, and finished the regular season winning 12 of 13 games.

Up next: Georgetown enters the Big East Tournament as the No. 1 seed. Received a double-bye into the quarterfinals against No. 8 Providence or No. 9 Cincinnati

Outlook: Let's start with the Big East Tournament - we know John Thompson III would not want us looking too far ahead. Even though in recent seasons the Hoyas have struggled against Cincinnati, an improving Providence squad looks to be the more formidable of the potential quarterfinal options. If seeds hold to form, in the semifinal round, the Hoyas could meet No. 4 Pittsburgh, which handed Georgetown its worst loss of the season, or end the conference rivalry once and for all with No. 5 Syracuse.

The fifth-ranked Hoyas are the co-favorites along with fourth-ranked Louisville, though both must win two games before a potential meeting in the championship game - in which case a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament would likely be at stake.

Barring a quarterfinal round loss in the Big East Tournament, the Hoyas will land a No. 1 or 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. While they cannot be in the East Region because the finals will be held at the Verizon Center, the Hoyas are in good position for the opening week games in Philadelphia.

VCU (24-7, 12-4 Atlantic 10)

Notable: Needing a win to share first place with Saint Louis, the Rams lost at Temple 84-76 on Sunday. VCU is 24-0 when the opponent commits 15 or more turnovers, winless when the total is under. Temple had 13 turnovers. I sense a trend.

Up next: Alone in second place, VCU is the No. 2 seed and receives an opening round bye in this week's Atlantic 10 Tournament at the Barclay's Center in Brooklyn. The Rams open play Friday against either Xavier or Saint Joseph's.

Outlook: One of a half-dozen teams with a realistic shot at capturing the tourney title, VCU could face Temple again in the semifinals with Saint Louis, LaSalle and Butler - the ideal opponent - looming on the other end. As for the NCAA's,'s Andy Glockner has the Rams as a sixth seed. Barring a very early exit this week or a championship, six sounds about right.

Virginia (21-10, 11-7 ACC)

Notable: Survived a dreadful first half and rallied for an overtime win over Maryland on Sunday. All-ACC first team performer Joe Harris scored 15 points, though he missed 14 of 18 shots. The Cavs finished tied for fourth in the conference with NC State.

Up next: The No. 4 seed in the ACC Tournament, Virginia faces either No. 5 NC State or Virginia Tech in Friday's quarterfinal with Miami the likely opponent in the semifinals.

Outlook: Because the bubble remains incredibly soft, the Cavaliers right on top of it despite losing four of seven and sporting a resume littered with ugliness (0-3 vs. CAA). Win Friday's quarterfinal game - especially if against NC State - and Virginia probably becomes the ACC's fifth NCAA team, maybe. That is not a copout answer. That is just the reality that none of the final at-large teams has strong arguments. In the end, beating Duke and 11 ACC wins might be enough.

Maryland (20-11, 8-10)

Notable: If the Terps did not already have the look of an NIT, they surely did after blowing a 17-point first-half lead against Virginia in what turned into yet another heartbreaking loss. Nick Faust led the way with 15 points, but Maryland scored only 26 in the second half and overtime period combined.

Up next: Already 2-0 versus the Demon Deacons this season, Maryland plays No. 10 Wake Forest on Thursday night at 7 p.m.

Outlook: There is absolutely no chance Maryland can qualify for the NCAA Tournament without winning the ACC version. None, nada, zero, zilch. Non-conference schedule is weak, losing record in the ACC, just too many blemishes...oh, wait, if the Terps win, they would play Duke in the quarterfinals on Friday? Hmmm, I mean, if you beat a top-5 team in the country twice, you're one of the top-68 teams, right?

George Washington (13-16, 7-9 Atlantic 10)

Notable: The Colonials went from being part of the contending mix to falling outside of the top-12 tournament slots entering the final weekend of the season. The GW waited until the final seconds over time before revealing its fate as center Isaiah Armwood follow-slam with 1.9 seconds left propelled GW past Dayton. And with that, the Colonials made the main draw of the A-10 tournament for the first time...since the 2006-07 season.

Up next: The 11 seed will face No. 6 Massachusetts at 9 p.m. on Thursday at the Barclays Arena in Brooklyn with television coverage on NBC Sports Network. In their only meeting with the Minutemen this season, the Colonials won on the road 79-76 with freshman Joe McDonald scoring 16 points and 10 assists. UMass guard Chaz Williams ranks fifth nationally with 7.6 assists per game.

Outlook: Simply playing a postseason game is a boon for the freshman-heavy lineup. Picking up a win would help the program gain even more momentum entering 2013-14.

Mount St. Mary's (18-13, 11-7 Northeast)

Notable:  Winners of nine straight, the fifth-seeded Mountaineers reached the NEC tournament final by upsetting top seed Robert Morris 69-60. Former George Mason transfer Rashad Whack scored 26 points and the "Mayhem" defense held Robert Morris to 34 percent shooting.

Up next: The Mount faces No. 3 LIU Brooklyn, the sixth highest scoring team in the nation (79.1). 6-foot-7 forward and Silver Spring native Jamal Olasewere (Springbrook) was named the conference Player of the Year

Outlook: Both teams won on their home court by double digits, including the Mountaineers 83-71 victory last month. The way coach Jamion Christian - former assistant under VCU's Shaka Smart - has the Mount's defense swarming, we could have another Cinderella storyline in the Field of 68. At least the state of Maryland would have a team in the field, period.

Norfolk State (21-10, 16-0 MEAC)

Notable:  Going through any conference is rather notable, right? Let's also add that the Spartans finished among the top three teams in points, rebounds, field goal percentage and 3-point percentage.

Up next: Faces Bethune Cookman-Coppin State winner on Thursday

Outlook: Win the conference and win a trip to Dayton for the First Four.

James Madison (20-14, CAA)

Notable: The Dukes won both the conference tournament and automatic bid into NCAA's for first time in 19 years by hammering top seed Northeastern 70-57 on Monday. Went 11-4 since January 23.

Up next: Because the CAA suffered through a collectively down season, JMU is another First Four candidate even though its general profile - stingy defense, senior leaders - is not.

Liberty (15-20, Big South)

Notable:  The Flames became only the second 20-loss team to reach the NCAA Tournament

Up next: The one true lock for a First Four slot in Dayton. Should the Flames  advance - the last four teams with losing records did not - perhaps they end up facing Duke and former Liberty star Seth Curry.