Happy Valentine’s Week everyone…while all of my male readers (hint, hint) are busy buying flowers and chocolates (one even gets his special someone flowers made of chocolate) the local fan bases try to figure out where their hoop relationships are headed.  Is there a future here?  Will there be heartache ahead?  And are they “just not that into this year’s team”?  Because a college basketball team can thrill you on Tuesday but leave you confounded on Saturday.  And there’s only so many times a team can redeem itself after forgetting to call…text or appear to be hitting on other people.

Georgetown (18-4, 8-3) remains the hottest team in the Big East with six straight wins… avenging a 49-48 poke your eyes out with a fork loss at Marquette by holding off a Golden Eagles rally 63-55.  While this wasn’t a beautiful game (33 combined turnovers, a sub 40% shooting night for the Hoyas)  coach John Thompson III’s team grinds its way to another victory.  With a limited bench (33 minutes between D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera and Moses Ayegba),  the solid play of Otto Porter Jr. (21 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals) continues to be a catalyst.  They’ll need him to play even better during a finishing kick that involves #6 Syracuse twice plus NCAA contenders Connecticut and Cincinnati.  Buckle up.

Alma Mater Update– the Orange (20-3, 8-3) welcome back senior James Southerland from academic issues…giving their lineup needed depth and their offense another option in Sunday’s 77-58 win over St. John’s.  While watching the game one saw Red Storm assistant coach Gene Keady minus his trademark dyed black hair combover… much like seeing the Lone Ranger without his mask, Magnum minus his mustache, Dylan McKay without sideburns or Barney Stinsen unsuited…you get the picture.  The final tour through the Big East involves four ranked teams over the final five games of the regular season… but first a trip to UConn.  Sadly, Sign of the Whale has a private party planned and there aren’t a lot of places that offer wings by the 44’s.

Maryland (17-7, 5-6) missed a golden chance to move towards sitting at the big table.  Fresh off their first ACC road win, the Terps hosted a Virginia team that hadn’t won a league game outside its home state.  Instead, the Cavaliers hit 11-19 three pointers and owned the glass (first time the Terps had been outrebounded all season) in an 80-69 loss for Mark Turgeon’s team.  The buzz that surrounded the storming of the court against NC State has faded with the Wolfpack becoming an ordinary team…and their other four ACC wins are against schools with losing records.  Not just losing league records… but losing overall marks.  Now #2 Duke to come to Comcast.  Will an offense that sometimes can’t get out of its own way (15 turnovers per game) right itself despite not having a pure point guard?  Will Alex Len and Dez Wells be able to shoulder more of the load as it’s almost guarranteed a consistent third threat won’t emerge?

Cruising the Commonwealth– when Virginia (18-6, 8-3) met Virginia Tech (11-13, 2-9) January 24th…the two schools were tied in the ACC standings with 2-2 records and the game turned on a 19-0 first half run by the Cavaliers.  In the five games in between their battle in Blacksburg and Tuesday’s tilt in Charlottesville, UVa won 4 of 5 while the Hokies lost 5 straight.  And once again a huge first half run swung the game Virginia’s way (this time a pedestrian 12-0 run)…as the Cavaliers complete a regular season sweep with a 73-55 thumping.  Joe Harris (26 pts, 5-7 from 3) shines while Virginia Tech’s Erick Green (22 pts, 4-17FG) fails to make a basket in the second half.  The path ahead has four of the next six games on the road for Tony Bennett’s team (with one of the home games against Duke)– starting with a trip to Chapel Hill Saturday.  The Hokies have things even tougher in the weeks ahead:  two games against Duke plus contests against league leader, the defending champ and preseason favorite.  Can they catch a break against Clemson or Wake in March?

George Mason (14-10, 7-5) missed a chance to move into second place of the CAA… suffering a maddening 79-72 loss to Delaware where they outshot the Blue Hens (44 to 39%),  held their own on the boards (getting outrebounded 38-35) and turned the ball over only 8 times.  Sherrod Wright had another rough day (4-16 shooting and 1-6 from 3 point range)…the junior hasn’t made 50% of his shots since January 12th.  But the Patriots have to be encouraged by double doubles from Jonathan Arledge and Erik Copes…both need to be threats for Wright to get the room he needs on the perimeter to operate.  Right now the chase is on for a spot in the top five and a first round CAA Tournament bye (as VCU left there are just 11 schools).

George Washington (11-11, 5-4) trailed #14 Butler early but rallied to within a missed three pointer of taking the Bulldogs to overtime.  Shooting 28% (and going scoreless for 8 minutes) while shooting 1 for 12 from 3-point range is no way to knock off the conference leader… and instead GW slips into a 7th place tie of the sixteen school Atlantic 10.  They face a VCU team that’s already had its midseason hiccup Saturday;  but after that the Colonials will play 4 of 6 against schools with losing A10 marks.

Maryland Womens’ Window– let’s just say the Terrapin faithful won’t be missing Cameron Indoor when they move to the Big Ten.  The Terps lost to the Blue Devils 71-56…in a game where coach Brenda Frese picked up two technicals and spent the final 3:51 in the locker room.  From the beginning the game was overly physical– Duke’s constant slapping at the ball contributed to the Terps 24 turnovers– and Maryland somehow found itself 10 points down in the first half before rallying to take a 44-42 lead.  But the Blue Devils and Chelsea Gray (28 points) were just too much to handle… closing the game on a 29-12 run.  On the bright side– Tierney Pfirman is expected to be back soon (she’s shooting for Sunday at Virginia)… and Duke comes to Comcast in less than two weeks.  Should be interesting.

American (9-14, 4-4) has won two straight thanks to the emergence of John Schoof (17.5PPG on 12 of 17 shooting) and the usual solid play from Stephen Lumpkins (posting his 10th double double of the season Saturday against Colgate).  While they may not match up well with Lehigh they led the Mountain Hawks (my Uncle Jimmy still wishes his alma mater went by the Engineers nickname) by 14 last month.  Can AU win three straight games for the first time all season?

Howard (6-19, 3-8) finished two points shy of winning a third straight game…slipping 53-51 to Morgan State.  Tre Lee’s nightmare evening (1-10, 4 turnovers) contributed to a poor shooting night for the Bison (36%)… although Anton Dickerson had his best game in two years (17 points off the bench).  The late season surge can certainly continue:  three of Howard’s next four opponents are at least ten games under five hundred… with Bethune Cookman the exception at 9-16.