Basketball around the beltway — breaking hearts… and the press

“Hearts will never be practical until they can be made unbreakable.”-Wizard of Oz, 1939.

Hopeless romantics, here we go again.  Just when you get your hopes up with a road win at VCU, heartbreak happens in the form of a home loss to Saint Joe’s.  Five straight wins in the Patriot League has you thinking chocolates…and two losses later you realize they all have apricots in them (who puts apricots in chocolates?).  So you remain wary when you blow out a hapless St. John’s…and you keep your guard up despite a rout of Bowie State.  You protect your heart against the Atlantic 10’s leading scorer and try not to get emotionally involved.  That is, until you see your team in Durham trying to shut up the Cameron Crazies…and visions of another league title get your heart racing.  Until that Blue Devil you just can’t stand hits a soul-crushing basket.  Hearts will never be practical until they can be made unbreakable.


Georgetown (14-11, 7-5 Big East) at #20 Providence (18-6, 6-5) – The Hoyas may have a winning record in league play, but 4 of their victories have come against DePaul and St. John’s (combined 2-22 in the conference).  They lost a major chance to build their NCAA profile in a four-point loss to the Friars January 30th…when Ben Bentil and Kris Dunn each scored 26 points for the visitors.  The good news is that since that night the Friars are 0-3…including a loss at DePaul.

2 p.m. 

Navy (17-9, 8-5 Patriot League) at Lafayette (5-18, 2-10) – The Midshipmen have lost four of six but still find themselves fighting for second place in the conference.  The Leopards have lost eight straight…a streak that began with an 87-61 thumping in Annapolis.

4 p.m. 

George Mason (8-16, 2-9 Atlantic 10) vs Davidson (14-8, 6-5) – Stop me if you’ve heard this before:  the Wildcats come to Fairfax, Va. led by a high-scoring but diminutive shooting guard.  Jack Gibbs might not be 6-foot-3 like Steph Curry, but the senior leads the A-10 in scoring and is coming off his first single-digit night in league play (somebody get the tapes from the LaSalle game).  The Patriots lost by six to Davidson on their home floor–and that was with senior center Shevon Thompson scoring just 4 points in 16 minutes despite no foul trouble.  Mason needs more from their 6-foot-11 big man Saturday.

Howard (10-14, 4-5 MEAC) at Coppin State (5-18, 3-7) – What began as a season of promise for the Bison is now one that is beginning to slip away.  Four straight league losses almost jettison hopes for the school’s first winning season since 2002 (last year’s team finished 16-16).  Marcel Boyd notched a double-double in the January win over the Eagles.  The Bison need a boost from the perimeter…as they’re shooting 10-49 from three point range during the current four-game losing streak.

American (7-17, 5-8 Patriot League) vs Army West Point (14-11, 5-8) – Consecutive losses drop the Eagles into the conference’s dreaded opening round territory.  AU jumped out to a 20-8 lead in their January matchup…only to be tied at the half en route to a 20-point loss to the Black Knights.  This time around the Eagles will be facing Army West Point at full strength…as 6-foot-7 forward Tanner Plomb (league-leading 21 points per game) will be in the lineup unlike their game last month.

George Washington (18-6, 7-4 Atlantic 10) at St. Bonaventure (16-6, 8-3) – Which GW team will we get, the one that beat VCU in Richmond or the one that allowed St. Joes to shoot 64% in the second half Wednesday night?  The Colonials face one of the best backcourts in the A-10 as Bonnies guard Jaylon Adams (18 points and 5 assists per game) hits 45% of his 3-point shots while Marcus Posley is third in the league in scoring.  D up, GW.

4:30 p.m. 

#7 Virginia (20-4, 9-3 ACC) at Duke (18-6, 7-4) – Thank you, Atlantic Coast Conference scheduling quirks that gives us just one game between the Cavaliers and Blue Devils.  Nobody wants anything to do with the Cavaliers who have won seven straight:  since their miracle win at Wake Forest UVa is allowing just over 48 points per game.  The Blue Devils have righted their ship as well with three straight wins-and will be more than ready to contain the Cavaliers’ triumvirate.  While Grayson Allen has become the latest Dukie to earn a nation’s hatred (and he is hitting 15 of 23 from 3-point range during the winning streak while looking like one of Johnny’s Cobra Kai buddies), freshman Brandon Ingram (four double-doubles in ACC play) remains the crane-kick to opponents.

6 p.m. 

#2 Maryland (22-3, 11-2 Big Ten) vs Wisconsin (15-9, 7-4) –  The Terps beat the Badgers by 3 in January on a Melo Trimble three-pointer at the buzzer.  Since that afternoon, Greg Gard’s team has shot up the standings with six wins in seven games.  Coach Mark Turgeon’s team is in a defensive groove he admits he’s never seen one of his teams in… and they’ll be tested by Badger big men Ethan Happ and Nigel Hayes.  Happ notched 16 points and 11 rebounds against the Terps last month;  while Hayes is averaging 22 points during Wisconsin’s six game winning streak.

VCU (17-7, 9-2 Atlantic 10)  vs St. Louis (8-15, 3-8) – One week ago the Rams were on the cusp of the Top 25;  a tough loss at home to George Washington and a 69-63 defeat at UMass later Will Wade’s team is looking up at somebody else in the standings for the first time all season.  The struggling Billikens should be the necessary salve…

Richmond (13-10, 5-6 Atlantic 10) vs Fordham (12-10, 3-8) – Two straight wins gives the Spiders hope after a less than ideal start in conference play.  Anytime one says “Richmond against the Rams” it’s usually a big deal…except when they’re the Fordham version (not to be confused with the Rhode Island Rams).  Having both Richmond schools playing at the same time Saturday makes as much sense as having 14 schools in the A-10.


Dave Preston

Dave has been in the D.C. area for 10 years and in addition to working at WTOP since 2002 has also been on the air at Westwood One/CBS Radio as well as Red Zebra Broadcasting (Redskins Network).

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