Maryland prepares to face George Mason


Maryland prepares to face George Mason

Maryland impressed in their last game, a 77-57 victory over Northwestern in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The Terps simply outclassed the Wildcats in a dominant second half.

Even in a season opening loss to Kentucky, the Terps have looked sharp for most of their non-conference schedule, running to a 5-1 record through November. On Sunday, Maryland should face its last true non-conference test, with a neutral court game against George Mason.

Though Mason plays in the CAA and Maryland the ACC, DC locals and college basketball fans need no introduction to the Fairfax, Va., school. George Mason made its name known across the country in 2006 with a run to the Final Four that included wins over college basketball bluebloods like UConn., Michigan State and North Carolina.

Mason's success came under former coach Jim Larranaga -- who bolted to the University of Miami prior to last season -- but Mason coach Paul Hewitt has plenty of NCAA experience.

As coach of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Hewitt led his 2004 Jackets team to the NCAA championship game. Last season Hewitt led the Patriots to a 24-9 season, though the team was left out of the NCAA Tournament.

This game will be key for Hewitt and Maryland coach Mark Turgeon as they work to guide their teams back into the NCAA Tournament. Non-conference wins play a key part in tournament selection, and a win for either squad would be a boost for their resume come March.

After playing arguably its best 20 minutes of basketball in the second half at Northwestern, the Maryland team has momentum.

Center Alex Len continues to garner serious NBA Draft buzz, while sophomore transfer Dez Wells really showed his capabilities with 23 points against the Wildcats. The Terps look to have depth and frontcourt size befit of a Top 20 team, and a win over an always-pesky Mason squad could show that to poll voters.

Led by junior guard Sherrod Wright, Mason will be a tough opponent for the Terps.

Wright averages almost 15 points on the season, not to mention the 6'4" guard hauls in about five rebounds a game. Mason already registered a win over an ACC opponent earlier this year, beating UVa. in the season opener.

Mason will not come into this game intimidated by the Terps, and it will be interesting to see how Maryland’s young team responds to the challenge.

Maryland should enjoy a noticeable size advantage over the Patriots, who are led down low by 6'8" big man Eric Copes.

With Len at 7'1" and three big forwards in James Padgett, Charles Mitchell and Shaquille Cleare, the Terps can play an aggressive style around the basket. A key to Maryland's early success has been winning the rebounding battle; something the team has done in impressive fashion every game this season.

Mason will have to make outside shots early to free up space in the middle, otherwise Maryland's big men could take over. With Wright at the helm Mason could have the advantage from the outside, though Maryland guard Pe'Shon Howard has been playing improved defense this season.

With a vocal crowd expected and fans of both schools on hand at the Verizon Center, the game could resemble an early-round NCAA Tournament matchup. A preview of a postseason experience both teams would like to achieve. 

Jerod Evans sharp again as Virginia Tech beats Miami, 37-16

Jerod Evans sharp again as Virginia Tech beats Miami, 37-16

BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) — Jerod Evans threw for two touchdowns and ran for a third and Virginia Tech beat Miami 37-16 on Thursday night.

Evans hit Bucky Hodges with scoring throws of 7 and 12 yards, and Travon McMillian ran for 131 yards for the Hokies (5-2, 3-1 Atlantic Coast Conference), who kept pace with Coastal Division-leading North Carolina in the chase for a spot in the ACC title game.

Brad Kaaya threw for 323 yards and two touchdowns for the Hurricanes (4-3, 1-3), but he also was sacked eight times as they lost their third in a row.

The Hokies limited Miami to 42 rushing yards on 29 carries thanks to the sacks, which cost Kaaya 55 yards.

Woody Baron had three of the sacks for Virginia Tech, and fullback Sam Rogers threw his first career touchdown pass in the third quarter.


Miami: The Hurricanes have never won the Coastal Division since joining the ACC in 2004 and won't win it again this year. Their defense was supposed to be a question entering the game, and they were without three starters and had four freshmen in the starting lineup, but their inability to generate a running game put all the pressure on Kaaya, and while he put up some good numbers, an offensive line that allowed eight sacks isn't good enough to win most games against top level teams.

Virginia Tech: Evans was virtually mistake-free again, and their plethora of weapons in the pass game seems to be opening up the running game as well. Evans added 98 rushing yards, including a 34-yard score, as the Hokies piled up 253 yards on the ground. On defense, apart from last weekend's stunning loss at Syracuse, the Hokies have allowed only 36 points in their last four non-Syracuse games.


Miami visits Notre Dame next Saturday. The Fighting Irish are off this weekend, and have lost four of their last five.

Virginia Tech plays its second consecutive Thursday night game when it visits Pittsburgh, which is off this weekend.

Heisman Hopefuls: Does Donnel Pumphrey have a real chance?


Heisman Hopefuls: Does Donnel Pumphrey have a real chance?

San Diego State running back Donnel Pumphrey is the nation's leading rusher. In just six games, he already registered 1,111 rushing yards for an average of 185.17 yards per game.

What's more, he has been consistently great in his career and he now ranks 10th overall in career rushing yards among FBS players.

So does the Aztec running back have a realistic chance of winning the Heisman?

No, next question.


Sorry to be blunt about it, but the answer is no. The reason? Competition.

The level of competition seems to matter more to Heisman voters than the stats. That makes it very hard for players of non-power conference teams to even rank among the finalists.

Take Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds who was not even given an invite to New York last year despite his historic season last year. If you need more evidence that stats don't matter, how about Christian McCaffrey? McCaffrey broke Barry Sanders' record for all-purpose yards last season and still came in second in the Heisman ballots to Derrick Henry.

That's not to say that Henry wasn't deserving, he had a phenomenal season, but statistically he came nowhere near McCaffrey.

The question you must ask yourself is what would Pumphrey's numbers look like if he was playing against SEC teams every week? Would he still be having the same kind of season?

That's an impossible question to answer and an unfair one to ask. The fact is, Pumphrey is running all over Division 1 athletes. He's been phenomenal and would do much better if he was placed on the roster of a SEC or a Big Ten team than many may think. I certainly think he is deserving, but I don't vote for the Heisman.

Based on recent history, when the finalists gather in New York, Pumphrey will very likely not be among them.

Who will? Find out here in the updated Heisman Hopefuls.