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 21

S14: Best College Basketball Teams in Virginia

An amazingly wonderful week for state college basketball, as after being one of only a handful of state with more than 4 teams in the tournament, the state's teams showed up well, and actually got a pair into the Sweet 16. Actually, after the first weekend, Virginia-based basketball squads are 6-3 in the tourney, which is the same as the Colonial Athletic Association (home to five of our state's Division I teams), and better than all but three conferences (oddly enough, those conferences are the Horizon, the Mountain West, and the ACC - no Big East, no Big Ten, no other power conference than the ACC). After last week when I said the state had not shown well past the first weekend, they blew it the fuck up this year. This is, of course, because I started doing this list and have shot this secret psychic energy into the blogosphere that has added an extra three inches to each state team's fan-based sixth man. I had no choice in where I was born, but it ended up being Virginia, so I shall be blindly proud of it, loyal to it, and help propel it to the top, motherfuckers.
I want to note as I go into this week's countdown that I decided the first time through that this would be based strictly on won-loss percentages, no personal opinion injected, unless it came down to breaking a mathematical tie. That means the top of this list is still populated by - and will probably finish up with - Division III teams. But make no mistake about it, the two teams that are left in the NCAA tournament are the state's pride right now, and will have local newspapers blowing up with black ink and bold headlines all week long. But here is the adjusted list now, which will have an unexpected week for it next Monday, at the very least...
#1: VIRGINIA WESLEYAN BLUE MARLINS (25-5, #1 last week) - Season over.
#2: RANDOLPH-MACON YELLOW JACKETS (25-5, #2 last week) - Season over.
#3: EASTERN MENNONITE ROYALS (22-5, #3 last week) - Season over.
#4: FERRUM PANTHERS (23-5, #4 last week) - Season over.
#5: RICHMOND SPIDERS (29-7, #7 last week) - The Spiders probably felt slighted by only getting a #12 seed after winning the A-10 Conference title last weekend, but also were given a blessing in disguise by drawing the overrated Vanderbilt team in the first round. Richmond beat them easily enough, setting up a Cinderella showdown on Saturday with #13 seed Morehead State. I doubt Richmond planned on wearing their home white uniforms again this year, but there they were, pulling away from Morehead State. Kevin Anderson is a motherfuckin' man on the court - raised in Atlanta, living in Richmond, and with that confident but sly smile. You can tell that dude is living the life. Usually, the student body of U of R would keep me from pulling too heavily for this team, even with state pride factored in, but man, it's hard not to like this team. They are a scrappy ass bunch, and I expect Chris Mooney to shoot up the list of hot young head coaches when power conference openings come about. In fact, I do not know if N.C. State has looked into anybody yet, but he'd probably be a decent fit there, although he'd probably be better served in the northeast than the shark-infested ACC waters. Of course, first on Mooney's menu is the #1 seeded Kansas Jayhawks, in a tough game in San Antonio on Friday night.
#6: GEORGE MASON PATRIOTS (27-7, #6 last week) - Mason beat Villanova in their opener on Friday, eliminating a strong pair of Senior guards in Corey Fisher and Corey Stokes. And they came out the gates yesterday against Ohio State looking like they might pull the shocker. But Ohio State was too strong, and simply slapped them out of the game. It was ugly quick, and only got uglier. Made me sad too, because in the three non-power conference vs. power conference games in the 3rd round of the tourney, this was the only one the power conferences won. I was hoping for a clean mid-major sweep.
#7: OLD DOMINION MONARCHS (27-7, #5 last week) - Even though they have the same record as George Mason, I dropped the Monarchs below them because they did not win their opening round game against Butler. It was a solid game though, and ODU played last year's national title game loser better than #1 seeded Pittsburgh did. The Big East has looked pretty shoddy thus far in the tourney, and the only two teams left aren't credible threats to the title. Good run for ODU though, and helping the CAA get their first 3-bid year in the Big Dance.
#8: SOUTHERN VIRGINIA KNIGHTS (24-8, #9 last week) - Season over.
#9: HAMPTON PIRATES (24-9, #8 last week) - Hampton did not stand a chance against Coach K's Aryan Hitler all-stars. Duke is basketball Nazi-ism and I will forevermore refer to them as the Duke Blue Hitlers. Seriously. I cannot stand them. Still though, good finish for Hampton, who won the MEAC tournament, which is usually the highlight of the year for whoever wins the MEAC. You can expect that as long as the tournament is 68 teams, 9 times out of 10, your MEAC champion is going to have to play in the First Four. And the years like this one where they do not, the only reason that is so is because the selection committee does not want to be accused of being racist.
#10: VCU RAMS (26-11, #10 last week) - But #1 in our hearts. Man, they said VCU shouldn't have even been in the tourney (they, as in Dick Vitale and Jay Bilas), and they came out and whomped on the UAB Blazers in the First Four game, which just made everybody be like, "Hahaha, UAB proved that they didn't belong." No credit given to VCU, who jumped a flight from Dayton, Ohio, to Chicago, Illinois, and promptly dominated Georgetown as well. "Hahaha, the Big East is overrated, and Georgetown has crumbled down the stretch." Again, little credit given to VCU, though more so than before, especially since they are the first team ever to win the in opening/play-in round and then win a second game. Followed that up yesterday by dismantling Purdue. I mean fuck man, they almost scored 100 points, and Purdue was so far out of it that there was no need to do the foul and try to come back with 3-pointers bit at the end of the game. Game over with time remaining. The thing is, this team has underperformed for a good part of the year, and is really hitting their stride now. They could conceivably make it to next Sunday with a favorable match-up against Florida State in the Sweet 16 game. And if somehow both Richmond and VCU can pull off wins on Friday night, they will play each other to go to the Final Four. I think my head would fucking explode if that happened.
#11: CHRISTOPHER NEWPORT CAPTAINS (18-9, #11 last week) - Season over.
#12: VIRGINIA TECH HOKIES (22-12, #12 last week) - I have talked trash on Virginia Tech and them getting left out the tourney, but I pull for state teams, always. And I really like the combo of Malcolm Delaney and Jeff Allen. Delaney's been the most exciting player in the state ever since Eric Maynor left VCU for the NBA. Sure, they had injuries on their team this year that left them shorthanded, but really, the past four years has - every year - been a case of pre-season expectations, and a team coming up short. The fact they lost a second round home game in overtime to end their season yesterday is sort of fitting. Ultimately, I think this falls on Seth Greenberg. He's a good coach, but can't get them to that next level. So as a Tech fan, you have two ways to think about this... One, you are a football school first, so having a guy that makes your basketball team halfway decent is all you could really ask for, so fuck it, let everything be. It's all good. But two, if you want to be a champion in the ACC and a contender on the national stage, you've got to make a move. But who's gonna come to Blacksburg? There's no history there, no basketball pedigree. Sure, Dell Curry and Ace Custis, but beyond that most of their greatest players have been in the past ten years. They'll probably stand pat, but Greenberg does himself no favors by making such a big stink every year about how his team was slighted. They slight themselves as well, and until he has a year where they live up to pre-season hype, he might want to tone down the "selection process is bullshit" rhetoric.
#13: RANDOLPH WILDCATS (18-10, #14 last week) - Season over.
#14: JAMES MADISON DUKES (21-12, #13 last week) - James Madison actually went to one of the two lesser tournaments, that most major conferences avoid because nobody cares, and you lose thousands of dollars in the process. Madison played on the road though, meaning they lost far less money than if they'd played at home, and lost that opener to Davidson, getting themselves a few extra days of basketball practice in March, and giving people something to look forward to next year, other than more corny ass Digital Underground jokes by shitty sportswriters.

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