I know it’s midseason.  I know there should have been a “Beltway Basketball Bonanza Preseason Preview” in November…when the now 5+ month season tips off.  The long non-conference warmups laps are done…and the leagues begin their 14, 16 or 18-game true tests as opposed to quizzes filled with cupcakes.  Just like “Rules of Engagement” being fired up each midseason as a replacement for a failed CBS pilot, the Beltway Basketball Bonanza will fill the same void now that local football moves to the middle burner (truth be told, the Redskins, NFL and college football never move to the back-burner).

Georgetown is 10-3 after winning its first two games in the New Big East (now with round-robins!)…the Hoyas are getting better play defensively and the steady hand of Markel Starks is helping a decent offense thrive.  The big question is, will Joshua Smith start rebounding (3.4 over 19 minutes per game) as befits a player of his size?

Alma Mater Update– Syracuse began ACC play with a 49-44 win against Miami.  Evidently they’ve yet to completely leave the Big East.  The Orange  have dodged a few non-conference bullets (St. Francis and St. John’s in particular) in remaining unbeaten– and one looks forward to a 12 noon Saturday showdown with North Carolina (the Tar Heels are 3-0 against ranked teams but have lost to the likes of UAB and Belmont).  Should be interesting

Maryland saw its chance at a 3-0 start in the ACC evaporate with a 20 point loss at Pitt.  The pre-ACC campaign was maddening for coach Mark Turgeon:  allowing 90 points to Oregon State and a home loss to Boston University two major black eyes that even a Paradise Jam Championship banner couldn’t clean up completely.  The emergence of Roddy Peters and return of Seth Allen should help this team as they try to navigate through the ACC.  Eventually Charles Mitchell or Shaquille Cleare needs to step up and be the man in the middle…or the Terps will continue to live and die by the 3 (10-19 in a win over Georgia Tech, 8-25 in the loss at Pitt).

Cruising the Commonwealth– Virginia won at Florida State in its ACC opener…and the Cavaliers look to remain on the cusp of the rankings all season.  Joe Harris after a strong junior season began conference play with 2 points in Tallahassee.  Virginia Tech’s early season has been good, bad and ugly with a win over defending champ Miami and losses to USC Upstate as well as UNC-Greensboro.  Senior Jarel Eddie is picking up where Erick Green left off…but will the Hokies be able to move forward as a program?

George Washington–break up the Colonials!  GW is off to a 12-2 start…their most non-conference wins since the school joined the Atlantic 10 (in the days when the A-10 HAD 10 teams).  Indiana transfer Maurice Creek (16ppg, 43% from 3pt range) has stepped right in to be a major threat.  January dates with VCU and George Mason loom…

George Mason– yes, the Patriots are in the A-10.  Although they still have a home-and-home with ODU…who’s no longer in the CAA but in Conference USA.  I think.  The Patriots took a sub-.500 record into their final CAA season…and now the team is 7-7 with the Atlantic 10 on the horizon.  Bryon Allen and Sherrod Wright look for help inside…will it come from 6-7 freshman Jalen Jenkins (5rpg)?

Maryland Womens’ Minute– the #8 Terps tipped off their last ACC regular season with a 79-70 victory at #10 North Carolina…Alyssa Thomas tallying 21 points and 14 rebounds.  The senior forward has 13 double doubles and two triple doubles so far this year…and allows the team to use big and small lineups around her because she can play four positions extremely well.  Freshman Shatori Walker-Kimbrough has emerged as a force off the bench– averaging in double figures while looming among the league leaders in 3-point shooting percentage.  The Terps play in an ACC that Sunday had four top ten teams and four others on the cusp of the top 20…so an intriguing final two months as an ACC resident is fully underway.

American is 2-0 in the Patriot League (a stronger Patriot League with Boston University and Loyola (MD) coming aboard)…with double-digit victories at Bucknell and Holy Cross.  Mike Brennan has four players averaging in double figures– led by John Schoof– but has a tight rotation (just six players averaging 20 minutes a game).  Date to keep an eye on:  January 22nd a Boston University team that won at Maryland comes to Bender Arena.

Howard is 3-14 but 1-1 in the MEAC.  The Bison have played 12 of their 17 games on the road–and no matter how good or bad you may be, it’s tough to develop a rhythm when you’re constantly juggling studies with travel and hoops.  Freshman guard James Daniel (20ppg) emerges as an early bright spot.  There’s a chance to pad the victory total:  the next four opponents are a combined 10-48.