It was a pretty amazing year in college basketball for the state of Virginia, with five teams going to the 2011 NCAA Tournament. The most amazing part is that the two ACC schools from the state (Virginia Tech, Virginia) are not part of the success. Maryland's season is over, and I mean over because they are not a part of the NIT, the Hoyas hope the return of Chris Wright corrects the wrong of the last four games (get it), the Capitals can't seem to lose and the Wizards ... well, onto the latest edition of Chain Reactions.
Did the Hokies Really Get Hosed?
As a proud CAA alum (Old Dominion), it is hard for me to feel for the Hokies plight since they think playing schools from the little old Colonial would hurt their program, yet it apparently is ok to schedule Longwood. The Hokies were 2-5 vs. the RPI Top 50, with a poor RPI and a non-conference strength of schedule of 180. Also, the ACC isn't the same ACC it once was. Sure, the Hokies beat Duke, but three days later, they were hammered at home by Boston College, who also missed the field of 68. Oh yea, and and did we mention they lost to Virginia, twice!
You also have to wonder if the team's health -- or lack thereof -- played a factor. The Hokies are down to seven healthy scholarship players. The committee admitted to checking on Hoyas guard Chris Wright's availability before seeding Georgetown.
Were the Hokies better than UAB? I suppose, but clearly the committee is rewarding teams for at least scheduling tougher out of conference games even if you don't win them.
"It makes you wonder if someone in that room has their own agenda, and it does not include Virginia Tech unfortunately," Coach Seth Greenberg said. "You'd hate to think there's politics involved, but it makes you wonder."
At least the Hokies are in the NIT, but it's a far cry from the rest of the state. For the first time ever, three CAA teams are dancing. George Mason is playing Villanova in Cleveland, Old Dominion will play Butler at the Verizon Center, and Virginia Commonwealth will play USC on Wednesday. Also in from the Commonwealth state are Atlantic Ten champion Richmond and MEAC champion Hampton.
Can George Mason be the Next George Mason?
Can the Patriots recapture the magic? It is not really fair that George Mason has to answer these questions every time they play in the NCAA tournament from here on out. However, here goes. Can they go to the Final Four just like 2006?
Mason has been back in the NCAA Tournament once since that magical season. In 2008, they were one and done after a lopsided loss to Notre Dame. I think they can certainly beat a reeling Villanova team in round one. However, beating the No. 1 overall seed, Ohio State, in Cleveland is an entirely different challenge. They would have to pull a George Mason-like run to make it to Houston.
Hoyas Await Opponent and Chris Wright
After a quick exit from the Big East in a loss to eventual tournament champion UConn, Georgetown earned a No. 6 seed in the Southwest Region and will play the winner of No. 11 seeds USC and VCU. Bottom line is the Hoyas will be as good as Chris Wright is when he returns to the lineup for the Friday game in Chicago. The Hoyas were lost without their point guard. Wright, if healthy enough, gives them a chance and certainly a lot of confidence.
"It's going to be good to have our point guard, our floor general, one of our leaders, back on the floor," senior Austin Freeman said. "To have his ability to penetrate, get his own shot and also get his teammates shots. Right now, he's getting back into shape and trying to get his shot back. He'll be fine."
The Terps' Season is Over
Seth Greenberg may have been the most vocal scorned coach but at least his Hokies are still playing. Gary Williams' team is done. The Terps did not even earn an NIT invite, wrapping up a disappointing season that ended with a third loss on the season to Duke.
"We played right with Duke for 35 minutes and got a win in the ACCtournament. It's kind of surprising we weren't selected," Williams said. "We worked very hard to get to where we were with 19 wins this year. We're looking forward to the start of next season."
A quick look at the Terps next year shows a team that should be in the field of 68 with the likely return of Jordan Williams and the late season emergence of Terrell Stoglin. Plus, Sean Mosley returns, along with some key reserves return in Pe'Shon Howard and James Padgett.
Caps are the Hottest Team on Ice
Can the Playoffs start already! I mean, the Caps are on fire, winners of eight-straight thanks to Mike Knuble's overtime game-winner Sunday against the Chicago Blackhawks. The victory was Washington's 40th, setting a club record with a fourth straight 40-win season. The Caps are winning every one goal game now and Braden Holtby continues to emerge between the pipes. He has won three straight since replacing Michael Neuvirth after the first period in Tampa Bay.
"I think our forwards are as big as anybody's in the league and, on top of that, they can skate," Laich said. "As a defenseman, you don't like going back for the puck ... (and) guys keep coming at you. It wears on you eventually, through a game."
Wizards Stumbling Down the Stretch
There is not much good to talk about these days with the Wizards. So instead of taking my shots at a team that has lost 10 of 11, please read Michael Lee's story in the Washington Post about the Oklahoma City Thunder, a team the Wizards are trying to imulate.
It took advantage of lottery luck, established and cultivated a core of young talent, made shrewd trades to accumulate draft picks and/or prospects, created financial flexibility and used discretion in free agency. Wizards owner Ted Leon sis often references how the Thunder assembled quality talent around Durant as an example of what he would like to duplicate in Washington around No. 1 overall pick John Wall.
All you do at this point with the Wizards is hope that the plan plays out like the Thunder.