Maryland, Georgetown and George Washington, fresh from dramatic victories and playing their best basketball of the season, don't have much time to celebrate.
Maryland, the Atlantic Coast Conference leader with a 7-1 mark and a 15-3 record overall, plays host to conference rival and fifth-ranked Duke (5-3, 17-3) at Cole Field House at 3 (WJLA-TV-7). Georgetown (14-5 and 2-1 in the conference) entertains Big East challenger Connecticut (13-5 and 3-2) at McDonough Arena in a regionally televised game at 3:30 (WRC-TV-4). GW (12-5 and 3-4) meets Eastern Eight Conference leader Rutgers (10-8 and 5-1) at the Smith Center at 8.
Maryland, with only a one-point less at Notre Dame in among four straight ACC triumphs, had its usual well-balanced scoring attack Wednesday night in stunning host Virginia, 63-61. Ernest Graham's 20-foot jump shot with five seconds to play gave the 12th-ranked Terps their first win over UVa in their last six tries. It was also Maryland's fourth conference win on the road.
Terp Coach Lefty Driesell has been saying all season his team was "better than a lot of people thought."
The Terps used their spread offense to grab a seven-point lead with 1:41 left to play. Virginia rallied to tie the game at 61. The Terps weren't rattled by the noise of the 9,000 UVa fans and played keep-away for 37 seconds before Graham sank the game winner.
Albert King leads Maryland in scoring with a 21.4 average. Graham is next at 17.8, Greg Manniing is at 14.7 and Buck Williams, who outplayed his 7-foot-4 UVa counterpart Ralph Samson, has a 13.9 average. The 6-8 Terp center also is the team's leading rebounder, grabbing 9.2 per contest.
Duke, the preseason conference favorite, has had some problems scoring from the outside. Vince Taylor, a speedy 6-5 guard (11.1 points), must score from the perimeter to keep Maryland from sagging inside on Mike Gminski, Gene Banks and Ken Dennard.
The 6-11 Gminski (23.1 points and 11.4 rebounds), the 6-6 Banks (17.3 points) and 6-8 Dennard (10.2) are tough offensive rebounders and will challenge Maryland inside.
Georgetown should be sky high after pulling out a miraculous 97-92 come-from-behind overtime win over scrappy Boston College before 4,200 shocked fans at BC. The Hoyas had no timeouts left and trailed by three points with eight seconds to play in regulation.
Mike Frazier, GU's 7-foot center, somehow managed to tip in a missed John Duren jumper with one second left. BC coach Tim Davis still must be wondering what possessed Burnett Adams to foul Frazier on the play.
Frazier took advantage of Adams' lapse and sank the free throw to send the game into OT, tied at 80. GU hit 13 of 15 foul shots in the extra session to whip the deflated Eagles, avenging an earlier 75-74 loss.
Georgetown now has won three straight games and six of its last eight. Eric (Sleepy) Floyd, with back-to-back 23- and 22-point games, has raised his average to 16.4 to tie teammate Craig Shelton for team scoring honors.
Indestructible point guard Duren has a 13.6 scoring average and leads the team in assists with 133.
Hoya Coach John Thompson called the victory one of the greatest in his eight years at the school.
The Hoyas probably will face an even tougher opponent in Connecticut. UConn has won six of its last seven games, its only loss coming against fourth-ranked Syracuse, 89-66.
Led by sophomore Corny Thompson, the top freshman in New England last year, UConn is shooting 51 percent from the floor and 75 percent from the free-throw line. The 6-8 Thompsosn leads the team in the most important departments, scoring (16.3) and rebounding (8.3). Mike McKay and Bob Dulin also are scoring in double figures, with 15.7 and 11.4 averages, respectively.
GW, riding a four-game winning streak, finally is employing the type of aggressive defense Coach Bob Tallent has been looking for.
"I know we can score, but lately, our defense has been playing very well," Tallent said. "We're 3-4 in the conference and we need to win our remaining three games to have a good shot at a home game in the playoffs. So this is a big game for us.
"And since we're playing so well, we'd like to win to keep our momentum going. Rutgers is the conference leader and they're tough. They're playing real well right now but we're playing much better now, too."
Mike Zagardo, the Colonials' 6-10 senior center, has been on a tear. He has gone over the 20-point mark the last few games and in GW's easy 104-79 win over George Mason Wednesday night. Zagardo had a Smith Center-record 18 rebounds.
"Zagardo has come out of the doldrums, so to speak," Tallent said "And (Curtis) Jeffries has also been doing a fine job. He's begun to assert himself."
Rutgers, which dumped GW, 69-59, in their first meeting, is led by Kelvin Troy (18.1 points) and former Mackin All-Mets forward Kevin Black and point guard Kenny Payne.
Tallent said standout defensive player Oscar Wilmington (twisted ankle) will start against the Scarlet Knights. He was injured in GW's 81-75 triumph at West Virginia last week.
In other games, 13th ranked Virginia (5-3 in the ACC and 16-5 overall) travels to Wake Forest (2-6 and (9-9), for an ACC confrontation at 1 (WJLA-TV-7) Catholic (8-9) tries to reach the .500 mark at William and Mary (7-9); Navy (9-7) journeys to Kent State (5-14), and George Mason (2-14) plays at Baltimore (9-12).