March Madness outlook: George Washington

March Madness outlook: George Washington
February 4, 2014, 3:00 pm
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Now that the calendar has flipped to February, the madness of March is less than one month away. While it remains too early for any substantive bracketology discussion no matter what you see online, we can start gauging the current conference and NCAA Tournament outlook for the local programs. We started with the Georgetown Hoyas. Next up, the George Washington Colonials.

George Washington (17-4, 5-2 Atlantic 10)

The good: The Colonials are 2-1 versus the current RPI top-50, 5-3 against teams in the top 100 and 5-2 against power conference programs. That includes wins over Creighton - currently 9th in RPI -, Miami (Fl) and Maryland. The Colonials handed VCU its only A-10 loss. Their current RPI (29) is very attractive. 

The bad: Saturday's loss at Dayton is the only "bad" setback and even that comes with an excuse in that GW played without three starters.

Atlantic 10 chase: Falling to the Flyers dropped the Colonials into a third place tie with St. Joseph's, one game behind VCU and two back of first place St. Louis (7-0). Single games with each of those three programs remain. The conference looks good for four NCAA bids, but likely no more.

Schedule: Nine games left include five at home, where the Colonials are 10-0 entering Wednesday's matchup with Duquesne. UMass and St. Joseph's will also travel to the Smith Center, while GW's trickiest road dates are at VCU, St. Louis and Richmond. In the A-10, every team faces every other team at least once and four teams twice. For GW, that means double dips with VCU, La Salle, Fordham (2-6) and George Mason (0-7). Overall, that's a nice draw with both Fordham games remaining plus George Mason visits Foggy Bottom. The Colonials already split with La Salle and can do no worse than that with VCU.

Outlook: Using the "if the season ended today" angle, GW is in the NCAA Tournament field of 68, though don't count on a high seed for now and a string of losses certainly would change the forecast. Biggest concern stems from the team's health and depth. Second-leading scorer Kethan Savage (foot) could miss the remainder of the regular season. Fellow starting guards Maurice Creek (illness) and Joe McDonald (hip) are likely to miss a second straight game on Wednesday. GW has shown it can do more than just survive with one player down, but depth concerns make additional absences scarier. If there is good news in this area it's that the next two games are home versus teams with a combined 19-22 record.