If things are clicking for you in college hoops…all is good.  Twice a week your team will test itself to see how good or great it might become.  If things are less than ideal, you’ve got a long road ahead of you.  At least five weeks until the conference tournament begins.  Doubts and wonder with each passing game about your team…what’s going wrong, what can be fixed and where to go from here.  The rude awakening of a January freeze has a few teams in and around the beltway looking at a cold, dark road ahead of them.  While others are thankful they have everything in gear–at least for now.

Georgetown (11-9, 3-6 Big East)– the last time I heard “Villanova hit 22 of 28 against Georgetown” it was 1985 and the Wildcats upset the defending champs.  Monday night ‘Nova hit 22 of 28 free throws as the Hoyas losing streak grows to five.   The longest conference losing streak for Gtown since coach John Thompson III’s first season in DC.  And while the team gets Jabril Trawick back from a broken jaw (3 pts in 12 minutes against the Wildcats), 18 turnovers and the inability to get to the line (just 9 free throws attempted) shortchanges a struggling team.  February begins like a lion with #7 Michigan State visiting Verizon.

Alma Mater Update– 19-0 with a duel against Duke on the horizon…but the Orange had better be wary about Wake Forest.  The Demon Deacons are unbeaten at home and boast sophomore sensation Cody Miller-McIntyre.  I never trust anybody with two first names, two last names or three names.  It’s just how one does business.  No 44-wing salute this week as one has to prepare oneself for the bad food extravaganza that is Super Bowl Sunday.

Maryland (11-8, 3-4 ACC)– a difficult final season inside the ACC has the Terps falling for the second time in three weeks to a Pitt squad that should be ranked higher than 18th in the nation.  Lamar Patterson will light up a lot of teams this winter– and the Panthers once again shut the door on a Terps perimeter attack that appears to be hitting the wall:  4-17 from 3-point range against the Panthers after hitting 5-19 at NC State.  The next two tilts loom large:  Miami Wednesday followed by Virginia Tech Saturday…the two teams are a combined 3-11 in conference play.  After that, they face North Carolina followed by six straight games against schools with winning conference records.

Cruising the Commonwealth– Nothing like dialing things back to the days of Ralph Sampson.  Virginia (16-5, 7-1 ACC) is off to its best start since the 1982-83 season…and picked up a huge road win at Notre Dame Tuesday night.  Up ten at the half, the Cavaliers went on an 18-5 run over the first ten minutes after intermission to secure another league victory.  Malcolm Brogdon’s shooting over 50% in league play…and the sophomore’s averaging 6 rebounds and 4 assists during UVa’s current four game winning streak.  Coach Tony Bennett’s bunch should be ranked at this time…and they face another undervalued ACC team Super Bowl Sunday in Pitt.  Virginia Tech (8-11, 1-6 ACC) continues to struggle shooting.  Their 45 points against Virginia was the lowest for the program since the 2008-09 season…as for the fourth time in six games the Hokies were held to under 40% from the field, under 33% from 3-point range and under 60% from the free throw line.  Opposing teams are focusing on Jarell Eddie and the senior’s hitting 14-60 (23%) during the six game losing streak.  The good news is the Hokies face Boston College and the Eagles have just one ACC win.  The bad news is that win came in Blacksburg against Virginia Tech.

George Washington (16-3, 4-1 Atlantic 10)– a road win at George Mason keeps the Colonials right on the heels of #19 Saint Louis…and in a four-way tie for second with #21 UMass, VCU and Richmond.  They play all four of those schools from February 8th through the 22nd…but have one last January date.  A home game with the lone team that’s beaten them in Atlantic 10 play– La Salle.  Travis Garland scored 15 in that game January 9th… the Explorers’ leading scorer erupted for 30 in a loss to VCU last weekend.

George Mason (7-13, 0-6 Atlantic 10) wonders when they’ll see their first win as a member of the Atlantic 10.  A trip to league-leading Saint Louis isn’t exactly the best scenario…although the Patriots did come within one point of topping then #16 UMass  a few weeks ago.  And five of their six league losses have come by six points or fewer.  Unfortunately there’s minimal margin of error…

Maryland Womens Window– after losing at Virginia the #8 Terps (16-3, 4-2 ACC) started slowly against #2 Notre Dame, falling behind 41-19 before mounting a comeback.  But the Fighting Irish had just enough in the final minutes to hold off Coach Brenda Frese’s team 87-83.  Credit the Terps for clawing their way back…but the coach remarked that this team needs to start stronger.  Against mid-level or lower tier teams in the ACC…Maryland’s talent can be enough.  But against the elite?  Not a chance.  The Terps travel to #18 North Carolina State Thursday…trying to avoid the program’s first three game losing streak since the 2009-10 season.

American (12-7, 8-0 Patriot League)– the Eagles beat second place Boston University by 30 and then topped third place Army by 10 (at West Point).  The three point shooting trio of John Schoof, Darius Gardner and Jesse Reed combined to hit 17 of 26 from outside the arc in the two wins…allowing 6 foot 10 center Tony Wroblicky to operate underneath (the senior averaging 18 points and 7 boards against the Terriers and Black Knights).  Can the incredible run continue?  The Eagles’ next road game against a team with a winning conference record is February 19th at BU.

Howard (5-16, 3-3 MEAC) came up short in a bid for its first three game winning streak since 2010…slipping 58-47 at Bethune-Cookman.  A rough shooting night for James Daniel (0-10 from the field but 14-15 from the free throw line) contributed to the Bison’s 27%FG and conference-low 47 points.  The schedule ratchets up a bit as with three of the next four against teams currently in the top three of the MEAC (combined 16-5 in league play).

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