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DMV March Madness - 2024 Conference Tournament's

Updated: Mar 15

The DMV (D.C, Maryland, Virginia), has five college basketball teams that I’ve been covering for House Enterprise/House of College Hoops/Road to the Garden in the 2023-24 season. Beginning on March 7 and continuing until at least March 13, those five teams will begin postseason play at their respective conference tournaments. 


All five teams will have to win its respective conference tournament in order to make the Big Dance. 


In this article, we’ll break down what each team has done this season and how things might shake out in each conference tournament throughout the DMV. 


I’ll update the article as needed, but we’ll start with chronological order, dropping teams to the bottom if/when they are eliminated.

 

Howard Bison - 4 Seed in MEAC Tournament


  • League Standings: HERE

  • MEAC Tournament Bracket: HERE

  • Tournament Dates: March 13-16

  • Location: Scope Arena - Norfolk, VA

  • Head Coach: Kenny Blakeney (5th season, 58-75 record at Howard) 

  • Record: 16-16 (9-5 in MEAC)

  • Last 10: 8-2

  • NEXT GAME: 3/15 vs. Norfolk State (MEAC Tournament - Semifinals)


Howard is coming off its best season in over 30 years, having won both the MEAC regular season and tournament titles a year ago, setting up the program's first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1992.


This year, it hasn’t been easy for Head Coach Kenny Blakeney. The Bison have struggled throughout the season to win consistently, and find themselves as the 4 seed entering the conference tournament.


The team got a comfortable 78-65 quarterfinal win over Morgan State on Thursdsay, which sets up a rematch with Norfolk State in the semis. The two squared off in last season's MEAC Tournament Final, with Howard coming out on top 65-64.


The team has a slew of players that can take over at any given time, with depth that is tough to match in a tournament setting. Players like Jordan Hairston, Bryce Hrris, Seth Towns, Shy Odom, and more, can lead this team from one round to the next in Norfolk at the MEAC Tournament. 


For Blakeney, the goal is simple: help his team embrace the ‘new season’ mentality and lead Howard to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances for the first time in school history. 

 

ELIMINATED - American University Eagles - 4 seed in Patriot League Tournament 


  • League Standings: HERE

  • Patriot League Tournament Bracket: HERE

  • Tournament Dates: March 5, March 7, March 10, March 13

  • Location: Campus Sites 

  • Head Coach: Duane Simpkins (1st season, 16-16 record at American) 

  • Record: 16-16 overall (10-8 in Patriot) 

  • Last 10: 5-5

  • NEXT GAME: N/A


Of the five teams in the DMV that I keep an eye on, American seems to have the best chance of all of them to make the NCAA Tournament.


The Eagles have not danced since 2013-14 at the end of former Head Coach Mike Brennan’s first season. Now, AU is led by a first-year head coach for the first time since that year, Duane Simpkins, who has led AU to a 16-15 year and a 4th place finish in the Patriot League. 


Over the last week or so, it looked like American was surging for a 2nd place finish in the league, having knocked off the top team in the league, Colgate, on the road 66-64 and taking down Army by 22 away from home. 


The back-to-back road wins set up a senior day game against Navy with a simple premise: Win and you finish 2nd in the league and will host at least two Patriot League Tournament games. 


Well, AU fell to Navy 71-65, a team that the Eagles beat just two weeks prior by 17 in Annapolis. 


Thursday, American will host Bucknell in the 4v5 matchup in the quarterfinals of the Patriot League Tournament. The two teams met last year in the tournament as well, with AU coming out on top 64-59. This season, AU has won both meetings. 


The Eagles will look to senior Matt Rogers, who was named to the Patriot League first-team, all-defensive selection Elijah Stephens, and freshman Matt Mayock, who was named to the all-rookie team. 


If those three players are on, so is the team. For returning players like Rogers and Stephens, who were there last year for the heartbreaking semifinal loss in the Patriot League Tournament, the opportunity ahead is one they surely won’t take for granted. 

 

ELIMINATED George Washington Revolutionaries - 15 seed in A10 Tournament


  • League Standings: HERE

  • Atlantic 10 Tournament Bracket: HERE

  • Tournament Dates: March 12-17

  • Location: Barclays Center - Brooklyn, NY 

  • Head Coach: Chris Caputo (2nd season, 31-33 record at George Washington)

  • Record: 15-17 (4-14 in Atlantic 10)

  • Last 10: 1-9

  • NEXT GAME: N/A


A season that began with so much promise has turned to disappointment for the George Washington basketball team. 


By mid-January, GW was 14-3 and off to a 3-1 start in Atlantic 10 play, moving up to 3rd in the conference standings. The team was relying on its two stars, senior guard James Bishop IV and freshman forward Darren Buchanan. 


Then, inexplicably, the losses started to pile up. 


GW lost back-to-back road games to move back to .500 in the league and then lost at home to La Salle. Fast-forward to March 2, and the Revs lost to La Salle once again. This time, instead of it being the third straight loss, it was the 12th consecutive defeat. 


Throughout the losing streak, the team’s two best freshman, Buchanan and Garrett Johnson, both missed time due to injury, along with Maximus Edwards.


The team was already pretty thin as it was, boasting a strong starting five, but not a ton of depth. 


This was pivotal in several moments throughout the losing streak, with Head Coach Chris Caputo playing six or seven players in several of GW’s games over the six weeks. 


Fortunately, the losing streak finally came to an end on March 6 on senior night as the Revs took down St. Bonaventure 86-75, outscoring the Bonnies 49-33 in the second half. 


James Bishop IV will close out his GW career as the #3 scorer in school history, and the senior was noticeably emotional as he got subbed off the floor with less than a minute to go in the game. He finished with 27 points and 6 assists in his final home game. 


Unfortunately for GW, they’re locked in to play in the opening round on March 12, where the bottom five seeds start, needing to win five games in five days in order to advance to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2014.

 

ELIMINATED - Georgetown Hoyas - 10 seed in Big East Tournament


  • League Standings: HERE

  • Big East Tournament Bracket: HERE

  • Tournament Dates: March 13-16

  • Location: Madison Square Garden - New York City, NY

  • Head Coach: Ed Cooley (1st season, 9-23 record at Georgetown) 

  • Record: 9-23 (2-18 in Big East)

  • Last 10: 1-9

  • NEXT GAME: N/A


Georgetown has won just 4 of its last 57 Big East games. 


Entering the Big East Tournament, the Hoyas have plummeted to a 2-18 conference record in year one under Ed Cooley, with the two wins coming against one of the worst teams in the country, DePaul. 


Far from the season Georgetown envisioned after firing its most legendary player in Patrick Ewing as head coach. Cooley made the controversial move to come over to D.C. from his alma mater Providence and, through one year, it has not paid off. 


However, no reasonable person would have expected a smooth transition and instant success in year one. It was always going to be a monumental task for Cooley and his staff to begin to right the ship for the Hoyas. 


On the flipside, very few, if any, foresaw a Big East slate resulting in the same number of wins as last year under Ewing.


Looking ahead, Georgetown has the top recruiting class in the Big East for 2024 and has been linked to some pretty significant names in the transfer portal. 


Regardless of who Cooley brings in to join his team, the pressure is going to be mounting heading into next year to not just improve, but start winning games. 


For now, if Georgetown wants to make its first NCAA Tournament since its miracle run to the Dance in 2021, they’ll need to double its Big East win total from the last three years in just four days. 

 

ELIMINATED - Maryland Terrapins - 12 Seed in Big 10 Tournament


  • League Standings: HERE

  • Big Ten Tournament Bracket: HERE

  • Tournament Dates: March 13-17

  • Location: Target Center - Minneapolis, MN

  • Head Coach: Kevin Willard (2nd season, 38-30 record at Maryland) 

  • Record: 16-17 (7-13 in Big Ten)

  • Last 10: 3-7

  • NEXT GAME: N/A


Maryland survived and advanced with a Wednesday opening round win over Rutgers, 65-51.


Of all the teams in the DMV, none had higher expectations entering the season than the Maryland Terrapins. 


Last year, in year one under Head Coach Kevin Willard, the Terps exceeded expectations by finishing 5th in the Big 10 and advancing to the Round of 32 of the NCAA Tournament. 


Entering 2023-24, with returning stars Jahmir Young and JuJu Reese back in the fold, expectations were to exceed last year’s run and advance to the second weekend of the Big Dance. 


No dice. 


If Maryland doesn’t win the Big 10 Tournament, they will not make the NCAA Tournament. 


The Terps have the star point guard in Young, who is averaging nearly 21 PPG, 4.8 RPG, and 4.2 APG and they have the star big man in Reese, who is 13th in the nation with 15 double doubles this year. 


But that’s about all Maryland has. 


Of the 351 men’s division I programs, Maryland ranks 283rd in scoring, averaging 69.6 PPG. The offense has been atrocious and falls stagnant for minutes at a time nearly every game. 


The only reason Maryland isn’t significantly worse is its defense. The Terps rank 18th nationally in scoring defense, allowing an average of 65 PPG. 


The 16-16 record has the Terps looking at the maximum number of games at the Big 10 Tournament, five. They’ll have to win five games in five days if they want to save the season and make the NCAA Tournament. 


For any other team in this article, I’d say fat chance. With Maryland, and the way they can play defense, paired with how they have looked in the rare moments where the offense is firing on all cylinders, I’ll say that even if it’s less than 1%, I think the opportunity is there to go on a little run and maybe advance to Friday’s quarterfinals and see what happens. 


Anything short of winning the Big 10 Tourney will land Willard firmly on the hot seat entering just his third season in 2024-25.

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