In any journey there’s a point of no return. For teams on the fringe in college basketball…there’s that moment where a slow start turns into a nightmare.  Losses go from “isolated incidents” to “continuing trends” to “sad reality”.  For some of the schools in the area…that point could be coming this weekend as key tests loom large.  While a win Saturday won’t make a miserable January disappear…it would represent a step in the right direction.

NOON–George Washington (15-3, 3-1 Atlantic 10) meets George Mason (7-12, 0-5) as the Colonials deal with the loss of guard Kethen Savage the Patriots simply deal with losses.  Losses that include multiple heartbreakers as well as headscratchers.  The wait continues for their first A-10 victory…and with three of their next four on the road it’s not getting any easier for Paul Hewitt’s team.  Mike Lonergan at least has a week to doctor his rotation post-Savage…will Patricio Garino  be able to produce as a primary player after being a successful secondary force?

3PM–Virginia Tech (8-10, 1-5 ACC) visits Virginia (14-5, 5-1) in the Commonwealth Clash (we’ll also accept Dominion Duel).  While the Hokies lone league win did come on the road… but that was December 8th.  While the scoreboard reads consecutive single digit losses to Notre Dame and Wake Forest, VT was down 15 and 14 points at the break in both games.  All five of the Cavaliers conference wins have come by double digits…and after Saturday’s showdown UVa’s on the road for 5 of the next 7 games.

4PM–American (11-7, 7-0) visits Army (10-8, 6-1) three days after the Eagles played the other unbeaten in Patriot League play and blistered Boston University by 30.  The Black Knights are the “other” other team to separate itself from the pack…and 6-4 swingman Kyle Wilson will get much of the AU attention:  the sophomore’s averaging almost 20 points a game in league action.  But very few teams are shooting as well as American is this year (the Eagles are 5th in Division I with a .504 field goal percentage).

6PM–Maryland (11-8, 3-3 ACC) hosts #20 Pitt (17-2, 5-1) as the Terps tangle with the team that began their 1-3 tailspin.  The Panthers hit 57% of their second half shots…turning a two possession game into a 20-point rout.   The Terps also faded in the second half against NC State.  Can they contain Lamar Patterson?  The senior forward’s averaging 18.5 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists in ACC play.  After the Panthers…things lighten up a bit:  Maryland’s next three opponents are currently 4-13 in the ACC.

6PM–Howard (4-15, 2-2 MEAC) visits Florida A&M (7-12, 3-3) as the Bison try to win consecutive conference games for the first time since November.  The Rattlers had a three game winning streak snapped by a loss the same Savannah State team that came into DC and handed Howard a two point loss.  Let’s see what James Daniel can do against FAMU.

8PM–Georgetown (11-7, 3-4 Big East) visits Creighton (16-3, 6-1) after losing three straight…in the wake of announcing that Josh Smith is done for the year due to academics.  That combined with Jabril Twalick remaining out as his broken jaw heals puts the Hoyas in  bit of a scramble.  The Bluejays are led by Player of the Year candidate Doug McDermott–but after Monday’s blistering of #4 Villanova, it’s apparent that there are more than a few weapons from outside.  And that’s where the Hoyas have been vulnerable as of late.