RAVEN MACK is a mystic poet-philosopher-artist of the Greater Appalachian unorthodox tradition. He does have an amazing PATREON, but also *normal* ARTIST WEBSITE too.

Monday, March 7

S14: Best College Basketball Teams In Virginia

March Madness is finally getting hyped up, and for state teams, there's really only Division I tournaments left to run their course. With all three CIAA teams from in-state losing their opening games in the CIAA tourney, the only non-Division I team that's still alive is Virginia Wesleyan in the Division III tournament. But beyond that, things are winding down. ACC basketball may be traditionally King, but the biggest game in state hoops goes down tonight, in Richmond, at the CAA championship. It has not been UVA or Virginia Tech out of the ACC that has made any national noise in recent years. It has been the CAA, with Old Dominion last year upsetting Notre Dame and almost beating Baylor to make the Sweet 16. It was VCU four years ago, knocking off Duke in the first round, and almost taking out Pitt. It was George Mason five years ago with their insane run to the Final Four. Other programs in the state have done nothing close to that for big-time victories, no matter how much ACC pounds its chest.
Well, here is the Top 14 Virginia basketball teams collegiate variety for this week...
#1: VIRGINIA WESLEYAN BLUE MARLINS (25-4, #2 last week) - The Blue Marlins hosted and won their Division III tournament "pod" this past weekend, beating Delaware Valley and Franklin & Marshall. Now they hit the road to Williamstown, Massachusetts, to play in the sectionals, at the Williams College Ephs on Friday night, in a showdown of Division III powerhouses. Wesleyan was national champs in '06, and runner-up in '07. Williams won in '03, and was runner-up last year. If Wesleyan can upset Williams on Friday night, should be good momentum to roll over the winner of the Amherst/Rhode Island College winner (although Amherst was national champs in '07 - beating Wesleyan, and runner-up in '08). If they can pull that feat off, Wesleyan comes home to Virginia to play in the Division III Final Four in Salem.
#2: RANDOLPH-MACON YELLOW JACKETS (25-5, #1 last week) - Macon won their D3 tourney opener against Alvernia, but then lost on Saturday night against St. Mary's (of Maryland), with that pod being at St. Mary's. Macon's best season in memory comes to an end.
#3: EASTERN MENNONITE ROYALS (22-5, #4 last week) - Season over.
#4: FERRUM PANTHERS (23-5, #5 last week) - Season over.
#5: OLD DOMINION MONARCHS (26-6, #6 last week) - Old Dominion eased past Delware and Hofstra to make it into the CAA championship tonight, with an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament on the line. At this point, they are considered a safe bet to get an at-large berth into the tournament, but still, you never know with the NCAA tournament. It would probably be better to just win and be in.
#6: GEORGE MASON PATRIOTS (26-6, #3 last week) - Mason ended their nation-leading win streak at 15 by losing handily to VCU yesterday in the CAA semifinals. They are still considered a lock to make the NCAA tournament, but you have to wonder the effect of this loss. This was a team that was on a roll, complete with players growing their hair during their streak. That actually adds to the problem, because do they cut their hair now, while they wait a week to see the tournament field announced? Do they keep it long and try to pretend the run is still going? Even though they are in the field, the loss to VCU was really a crushing loss that broke their momentum, and now all they do is sit around and wait for 11 days or so to play another basketball game.
#7: RICHMOND SPIDERS (24-7, #7 last week) - The Spiders ended their conference schedule with a pair of wins this week, locking up a bye through the first round of the Atlantic 10 tournament, meaning they automatically make the trip to Atlantic City for next Friday's quarterfinals, seeded #3, awaiting the winner of St. Louis at Rhode Island on Tuesday night. The Spiders are very much a bubble team at this point, and need to not only advance to the semifinals, but make it to the championship game by beating #2 seed Temple in a bubble-battle on Saturday. Of course, the great thing about March is, if they just romp through the A-10 tourney, they get in automatically, meaning there is a very real outside possibility at this point of the state of Virginia getting five teams into the tournament.
#8: SOUTHERN VIRGINIA KNIGHTS (24-8, #8 last week) - The Knights were the only higher-seeded team to win in the USCAA Division I's first round last Wednesday, somewhere in Pennsylvania, beating Marygrove, and then winning over Lindenwood on Friday, and Ave Maria on Saturday, to become the 2011 USCAA Division I National Champions, for whatever that's worth.
#9: HAMPTON PIRATES (21-8, #9 last week) - Hampton snagged the #2 seed in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament coming up this week in Carolina, and will play on Thursday night against the winner of the first round Floriday A&M/Maryland-Eastern Shore game. The MEAC will only send one team, and they will probably go to a play-in game, and though Bethune-Cookman is the #1 seed, really any of the top 4 or 5 teams could grab the title. Hampton stands as good a shot as anybody.
#10: VCU RAMS (23-10, #12 last week) - VCU needed to make a run to have a shot at the NCAA tournament, looking pretty much NIT bound by the way they had crumbled at the end of the season. And they struggled to beat Drexel in the CAA quarterfinals on Saturday, but won. Sunday, they were firing on all cylinders, and really whooped up on George Mason, and if they can knock off Old Dominion tonight, the CAA could get their first 3-bid year in the NCAA tournament that I can ever think of. A loss, and most likely it's the NIT for the Rams.
#11: CHRISTOPHER NEWPORT CAPTAINS (18-9, #13 last week) - Season over.
#12: JAMES MADISON DUKES (21-11, #11 last week) - JMU was on a hot streak, and conceivably could've made a run through the CAA tourney, but instead crumbled and lost to William & Mary on Friday night in the first round. Now, the Dukes wait to see if they will go to the NIT, or one of the other lesser tournaments that college basketball has now.
#13: VIRGINIA TECH HOKIES (19-10, #10 last week) - After a potentially season-saving win over Duke a week ago, the Hokies do their best to bubblefy themselves again by losing to Boston College (another bubble team) at home, and then at Clemson this past week. Now they go into the ACC tournament, and by losing to Clemson gave up a bye through the first round, so they will play Georgia Tech in the last game in Thursday's opening round.
#14: RANDOLPH WILDCATS (18-10, unranked last week) - Season over.

Gone from the list from last week: Virginia Union Panthers.

No comments: