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Atlantic 11 is back and U-Va. is a near-unanimous No. 1

(AP Photo/Andrew Shurtleff)

In the Atlantic 11 poll’s triumphant return after a two-year absence, there’s a near-unanimous No. 1: George Mason.

Nah, just kidding. It’s Virginia. This poll isn’t that much of a joke.

The Cavaliers, who beat Davidson and held off Miami in two overtimes after blowing an 18-point halftime lead to remain one of three undefeated teams in the country, garnered 48 of 49 first-place votes. The only other team to receive a first-place vote was No. 2 Maryland, which improved to 14-1 with a double-overtime win at Michigan State and a home win over Minnesota. The Terrapins’ only loss of the season was to Virginia, 76-65, in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge in December. I’ll withhold the identity of the voter who ranked Virginia No. 2 … for now.

Georgetown, George Washington and VCU round out the top five in this week’s poll. Those teams, plus No. 6 Old Dominion, are all projected to make the NCAA tournament in Joe Lunardi’s latest bracket projection for ESPN. Yes, it’s early. Still, it’s exciting.

It gets ugly after No. 6, with several mediocre teams bunched together in the bottom half of the poll. Twenty-three of the 27 Division I teams in D.C., Maryland and Virginia received at least one vote this week, including 1-14 Coppin State. In fairness, the Eagles are better than 2-11 UMBC, according to Ken Pomeroy’s rankings. The four teams that were shut out: Longwood, Loyola (Md.), Morgan State and Mount St. Mary’s. Better luck next week.

To the rankings and pith. Thanks to all the voters.

1. Virginia (13-0, 1-0 ACC) 504 points (48 first-place votes)

Next: Wednesday vs. N.C. State, Saturday at Notre Dame.

The Cavs went overtime with the Hurricanes and were happy about it the next morning. That NEVER happens in New Orleans. (Markus Videnieks)

Remember when teams ranked number 3 in the country were exciting to watch? Good times. (Max Wasserman)

Hard to believe Tony Bennett’s Virginia team is allowing fewer points per game than the Redskins. (Christopher Boan)

To discipline the team for losing an 18-point halftime lead in their eventual two OT win over Miami, coach Tony Bennett is prohibiting players from popping their collars this week. (Grant Kronenberg)

Thomas Jefferson’s lifetime accomplishments, ranked: 1. Drafting the Declaration of Independence; 2. Purchasing Louisiana; 3. Abolishing primogeniture; 4. Inventing the Pack Line Defense. (‘Kangy Garroux’)

London Perrantes vs. Angel Rodriguez sounds more like a welterweight fight than your usual guard matchup in the ACC. (Ivan Snyder)

It’s amazing the ref who called the fifth foul on Brogdon against Miami was able to make it all the way to Dallas the next day to pick up that PI flag. (Jake Leffler)

2. Maryland (14-1, 2-0 Big Ten) 439 (1)

Next: Wednesday at Illinois, Saturday at Purdue.

Thanks to the increased money from moving to the Big Ten, students can now afford to burn sofas AND love seats! (Grant Kronenberg)

Terps held Michigan State’s Lourawls Nairn Jr. scoreless last week. I’d feel bad if his presumptive brothers Teddypendergrass Nairn, Luthervandross Nairn, and Algreen Nairn were watching. (Markus Videnieks)

After conference victories over Michigan State and Minnesota, this Maryland squad is quickly becoming comfortable with the B1G’s unbridled attitude toward blocking and tackling in the paint. (Ben Yezer)

Del Monte Foods figuring out a way to use Damonte Dodd and his name for promotional purposes. (Michael Palan)

Maryland leaves the ACC for the Big Ten (14), still loses to UVA. (Mike Doughten)

If there’s not some variation of “17-14 at halftime, the “B1G TEN” [+4]: FEEL THE EXCITEMENT” joke in here then this poll has failed its mission. (Colin Wilhelm)

The Terps are taking to the Big Ten just fine, as they somehow figured out how to play in a double-overtime game where neither team broke 70. (Taylor Adkins)

A Big Ten schedule may be tough on Maryland fans, who will now have to be nasty and vicious towards an entirely new group of teams. (Sean McLernon)

The Big Ten is starting to feel like a hot, new trophy wife for the Terps, although travel times are making it feel more like a long-distance relationship. (Ivan Snyder)

Maryland’s win over Michigan State proves that the Terps were always better without Greivis Vasquez. (Max Wasserman)

It’s looking like another big week for the Terps, as they travel to face their traditional rivals Illinois and Purdue. (John Taylor)

3. Georgetown (9-4, 1-1 Big East) 329

Next: Tuesday vs. Marquette, Saturday at Providence.

Lost the Battle 4 Atlantis, a tournament for a fictional island. What’s next, the Scrum 4 Purple Line? (Gavin Weiss)

Georgetown is really enjoying the new New Big East so far. Which is just like the Old Big East, except for the teams that are now in the ACC, or those that were left behind in the Old Big East, which is now the AAC, which is different from the ACC. You follow? (Ivan Snyder)

Georgetown spent last week playing Xavier and Creighton. Coincidentally, the two most popular names of Georgetown undergrads are Xavier and Creighton. (Taylor Adkins)

Nothing says Big East basketball like opening your conference schedule against teams from Ohio, Nebraska, and Wisconsin. (Markus Videnieks)

D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera is currently fifth in the Big East in points per game, but first in punctuation marks per name. (Max Wasserman)

Georgetown’s entire defensive game plan against Xavier was ruined when it turned out there were more than just Three Musketeers. (Chris Ring)

Still decades away from the John Thompson IV era. (Michael Palan)

At this point JTIII’s Georgetown bunch is completing more passes than RGIII. (Devin Perry)

Talk to me when you’ve played a true road game. Oh, what’s that? You finally did and you got smacked around by Xavier? Alright, don’t talk to me then. (Kangy Garroux)

4. George Washington (11-3, 1-0 A10) 327

Next: Tuesday vs. Saint Louis, Saturday at LaSalle.

The win over Wichita State was GW’s greatest Christmas Day triumph since crossing the Delaware. (Chris Ring)

Mike Lonergan’s GW squad brings back holiday tournament trophy from Hawaii; apparently to avoid baggage fees, he is forced to leave behind his dignity. (Vince Colatriano)

Took time off, spending other people’s money to participate in athletic endeavors in Hawaii over the holidays. Hey, at least they probably didn’t force any weddings to relocate. (Gavin Weiss)

I was planning to familiarize myself with this year’s GW team, but then decided it was more fun to watch highlights of Pops Mensah-Bonsu dunking on fools in the Greek league. I stand by my decision. (Jamie Paquette)

St. Joe’s: “The Hawk Will Never Die.” GW: The Hawk Died. (Michael La Place)

The UN of college hoops keeps rolling. (Russell Meyer)

Their roster is full of guys from interesting places that only the most wealthy and well-situated Washingtonians can visit, like Tokyo, Copenhagen, Argentina, and Landon. (Markus Videnieks)

I wonder if GW guard Kethan Savage ever pretends Daniel Stern is narrating his life. (Devin Perry)

Yuta Watanabe has been so good for GW, people are finally starting to forget about the performance of Ken Watanabe in “Inception 2: Electric Bugaloo.” (Ivan Snyder)

One team has scored exactly 60 points in each of GW’s last three games. Can that translate into any sort of pizza topping deal? (Brian Hoysa)

I’m pulling for the Colonials to make the NCAA Tournament just to hear Jim Nantz try to pronounce Yuta Watanabe. (Sean McLernon)

Per Pope Pomeroy, GW’s victory over Wichita State is the best win any team on this list has thus far achieved (excepting UVA’s unseemly cannibalizing of Maryland). Rest easy, America, The General rides again. (Kangy Garroux)

5. VCU (11-3, 1-0 A10) 312

Next: Wednesday vs. Davidson, Saturday vs. Saint Joseph’s.

After beating the Buccaneers (E. Tennessee State), the Vikings (Cleveland St.), and the Rams (Fordham) in the span of one week, VCU is solidly dominating the bottom half of the NFC. (Ivan Snyder)

In order to bond with the hipster student body, coach Shaka Smart will wear skinny jeans on the sideline during weekend home games for the rest of the season. (Grant Kronenberg)

Two of VCU’s three losses have come against fellow Atlantic 11 opponents. Hopefully the selection committee takes this into consideration when seeding the Rams in March. (Brian Hoysa)

VCU tops Fordham to win “Best Damn Ram in the Land” title. Will play for “Ram-a-lam-a-ding-dong” Trophy on Jan. 13th vs. Rhode Island. (Andy Minor)

The Rams take on Davidson this week in Richmond. I hear the Micro Machines guy will be doing play by play. (Taylor Adkins)

The Rams had a few early season blips, but fortunately they’ve been able to just Shaka it off, Shaka it off, WOO-OOO-OOH! (Chris Ring)

If the Rams leave St Louis, St Louis may try to woo these Rams away from the Commonwealth. (Michael Palan)

The guys St. Louis got in the RGIII trade served as honorary captains for Sunday’s Rams vs. Rams game, in which VCU beat Fordham. Back off, Jeff Fisher! (Markus Videnieks)

You can’t spell “havuc” without VCU. Oh wait, is that not how you spell that word? (Sean McLernon)

6. Old Dominion (12-1, 1-0 C-USA) 254

Next: Thursday at Marshall, Saturday at Western Kentucky.

Trey Freeman is shooting 33.3% from the 3 point line, which is the most name-appropriate statistic since Duce Staley averaged 2.2 yards per carry in ’02. (Max Wasserman)

They’re in the C-USA now? You take a few years off from voting in a regional college basketball poll and the whole world changes. I feel like Brooks after he got paroled in Shawshank. (Markus Videnieks)

I swear ODU joined C-USA solely for the frequent flyer miles. (Taylor Adkins)

There just seems something wrong about having a team named the Monarchs in Conference USA. The Colonial Athletic Association just makes more sense, linguistically and historically. (Sean McLernon)

C-USA play started last week, I hope the Monarchs are ready for intense games against traditional rivals like Rice and North Texas. (Devin Perry)

With his move to ODU, Jeff Jones sets an Atlantic 11 record by coaching his third eligible team. (Andrew Morris)

With ODU thriving and Kate Middleton pregnant again, the Monarchs have never been stronger. (Chris Ring)

After victory over Andrew Smeathers and Mt. Saint Mary’s, Jeff Jones put his fingers together and whispered “Exxxxxxcellent.” (Ivan Snyder)

The Monarchs are undefeated in five games against Atlantic 11 opponents, which matters to people reading this blog, and, well, that’s about it. (Gavin Weiss)

7. William & Mary (7-5, 1-0 CAA) 88

Next: Thursday at Elon, Saturday vs. JMU.

The Tribe jumps into CAA play with a Harry Potter-themed tour this week against the likes of Dragons (Drexel), Phoenix (Elon), and Dukes (JMU). (Brian Hoysa)

Coach Tony Shaver recently picked up his 500th career win, which averages out to about one and a half wins per year since 1693. (Gavin Weiss)

Terry Tarpey totally typify trophy theory. (Michael Palan)

Saw a bit of their game against Charleston and caught a couple Canyon Berry underhand free throws and then I tried to write a “Canyonero” parody using his name and then I changed the channel because football was on. (Jamie Paquette)

To distance themselves even further from the Redskins name controversy, William & Mary has asked that people drop “Tribe” and strictly be called “Quest.” (Chris Ring)

Congrats, William & Mary: You’re probably the best college basketball team within a 5-mile radius of Williamsburg. (Sean McLernon)

Tribe’s Omar Prewitt was heard whistling “The Farmer’s in the Dell” before 30-point win over College of Charleston. (Ivan Snyder)

8. Richmond (7-7, 0-1 A10) 80

Next: Thursday vs. George Mason, Sunday vs. St. Bonaventure.

We’ve reached the portion of the poll where the options are so uninspiring that any of these teams could be signed to play safety for the Redskins. (Markus Videnieks)

The Spiders just lost to Davidson by 14 points, which just lost to Virginia by 11 points, which means by the transitive property that the Spiders would probably lose to Virginia by 25 points, which seems good enough to me for the No. 9 spot in this poll. (Sean McLernon)

On Saturday, Richmond lost in a Davidson domination and an Adam Sandler “Cajun Man” skit wrote itself. (Taylor Adkins)

9. Virginia Tech (8-6, 0-1 ACC) 74

Next: Tuesday at Florida State.

Losses to Radford and App State knock Virginia Tech out of the Blue Ridge Challenge. (Mike Doughten)

Wins are wins, but back-to-back wins over The Citadel and VMI seems somewhat un-American. (Gavin Weiss)

In his first ACC game, Buzz Williams broke Gary Williams’ conference record for sweat droplets by a coach. (Grant Kronenberg)

Thanks to the addition of Buzz Williams, that VT/Syracuse matchup had all the pizzazz of an old Big East game without those boring, drawn out overtimes. (Andy Minor)

It’s not officially basketball season in Blacksburg until the final Military Bowl whistle blows. (Chris Ring)

Economist Adam Smith created the invisible hand metaphor, which explains unintended social benefits resulting from individual actions. VT guard Adam Smith is teammates with Maryland transfer Seth Allen, whose departure from the Terps is a great example of the invisible hand. (Markus Videnieks)

Buzz, like Beamer, narrowly drops this year’s ACC home opener, igniting a run toward college basketball’s Military Bowl equivalent — an NIT bid. (Brian Hoysa)

Va. Tech fans have always considered themselves the Rebel Alliance of the A-11 poll. If the new poll is “Revenge of the Pith,” does that make Steinberg a Pith Lord? (Ivan Snyder)

Things I’ve learned from this week’s Atlantic 11 research: Virginia Tech is still terrible. (Clinton Yates)

There are a lot of Virginia Tech grads in the DMV, and thus potentially several Tech grad voters in this poll. I’m actually hoping they somehow make the top 11 just to read the pith/despair. (Jake Leffler)

10. George Mason (6-7, 1-0 A10) 67

Next: Thursday at Richmond, Sunday vs. UMass.

A perfect 1-0 start to A-10 play! And they almost scored 100 points against some school called Catawba! If you use exclamation points, these accomplishments sound like they may be impressive! (Sean McLernon)

Hey, GMU’s 75-foot buzzer-beater vs. Manhattan has to count for something. (Mike Doughten)

Suffered three straight losses at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, which I’m pretty sure is actually a move from Barney Stinson’s Playbook involving a fake mustache and a bowl of mofongo. (Gavin Weiss)

At 6’11”, Mason’s Jamaican center Shevon Thompson could, in a pinch, stand in as the Jamaican bobsled team’s bobsled. (Markus Videnieks)

After falling to the Monarchs in December, the Patriots topped the Explorers last week to finish 1-1 in the “American History Classic.” (Andy Minor)

Give Mason credit: Any old program can elevate itself to national powerhouse status after making a Cinderella run to the Final Four (VCU, Butler, Wichita State, etc.) but it takes a lot of guts for a school to say, “You know what? We’re just gonna stick it out right here toward the bottom of the Atlantic 11. We kinda like it here.” I salute you, George Mason University. (Kangy Garroux)

11. American (8-6, 1-1 Patriot) 61

Next: Wednesday at Loyola (Md.), Saturday vs. Colgate.

Yilret Yiljep definitely sounds like his name should read backwards as something funny. (Gavin Weiss)

Bender Arena hasn’t been this rocking since I saw the Dave Matthews Band play there in 1994. (Michael Palan)

The most popular poster in AU dorm rooms? David Gregory arguing a DC parking ticket. (Taylor Adkins)

New cheer really catching on AU: “The Schoof, the Schoof, the Schoof is on fire, we don’t need no water…” (Ivan Snyder)

Also receiving votes: JMU 50, Norfolk State 38, Radford 14, Navy 11, Towson 10, UMBC 10, UMES 7, Hampton 4, Coppin St. 1, Howard 1, Liberty 1, VMI 1.

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