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D.C. Area Could Be Well Represented In NCAA Tournament

January 28, 2014

With less than five weeks until the calendar turns to March, 10 teams from the Washington, D.C., area have played well enough to enter the NCAA tournament discussion.

Five schools could realistically make it to the Division I tournaments, which begin in mid-March. The list of local NCAA hopefuls also includes two Division II teams and three schools from Division III. 

Division I Men

American is the area's hottest team. The Eagles haven't lost since before Christmas, running off a nine-game winning streak after a 3-7 start. On Jan. 22, coach Mike Brennan's team beat preseason Patriot League favorite Boston University by 30 points to take over first place in the conference. The Eagles, at 12-7 overall entering their Jan. 29 game against Navy, are 8-0 in Patriot play. 

While American has been the hare, George Washington is the tortoise. The Colonials have been consistent all season while rolling to a 16-3 overall mark. Coach Mike Lonergan's club is tied for second in the Atlantic 10 at 4-1, just one game behind conference leader St. Louis. 

Two teams with dozens of NCAA tournament appearances between them have little margin for error. Coach John Thompson III's Georgetown squad has lost five straight games, dropping to 11-9 overall and 3-6 in Big East action. The Hoyas are in seventh place in the new, 10-team Big East, which isn't likely to get more than four bids on Selection Sunday. 

Maryland has lost two straight and four of its last five games, falling to a tie for eighth in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Terrapins, who are 11-9 overall and 3-4 in the league, are tied for eighth in the 15-team conference. Coach Mark Turgeon's team still must face a daunting final-month schedule, which includes ACC powers Syracuse, Duke and Virginia (twice). 

Division I Women

One area women's team is a lock to reach the NCAA tournament. Maryland has made a strong case for inclusion. Despite its fifth-place standing in the Atlantic Coast Conference after consecutive losses to Virginia and Notre Dame, coach Brenda Frese's eighth-ranked Terrapins are 16-3 overall and 4-2 in a league that could have at least six tournament invitees. 

Navy is also well positioned for a tournament run. The three-time defending Patriot League champion Midshipmen are 8-0 in conference play, two games ahead of second-place Army and American. If coach Stefanie Pemper's club wins the regular-season title, it will clinch home-court advantage through the Patriot League playoffs. 

Under the direction of first-year head coach Megan Gebbia, American has surged into a second-place tie with Army in the Patriot League standings. The Eagles have climbed to 13-6 overall and 6-2 in league action. 

Division II Men

Despite its losing record, Bowie State is tied for first place in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association's Northern Division. Coach Darrell Brooks' Bulldogs are 9-11 overall and 3-6 in CIAA play, but their 2-1 divisional record ties them with Elizabeth City State and Virginia State for the Northern's top spot. 

Division II Women

The University of the District of Columbia has put together a solid season. The Firebirds, now 12-3 overall and 8-1 in the East Coast Conference, trail league-leading LIU Post by .5 games. 

Division III Men

St. Mary's College of Maryland has a strong track record in the NCAA tournament. The Seahawks, who advanced to the Elite Eight last season, should make the tournament field again. Coach Chris Harney's team, at 13-4 and ranked 24th in the Jan. 27 national poll, holds third place in the Capital Athletic Conference with a 7-2 mark. 

After three consecutive seasons of single-digit victories, Marymount has rebounded strongly. But the Saints, 12-5 and 5-4 against CAC competition, are tied for fourth in the 10-team league and face an uphill struggle in a conference with three nationally ranked teams. 

Division III Women

A regular NCAA tournament participant, Marymount is a factor in the Capital Athletic Conference race again. The Saints, currently 11-6 overall and third in the CAC with a 7-2 record, trail first-place York College by two games with three weeks left during the regular season.

Gallaudet also has a shot at the Division III tournament. The Bison, who are 8-8 overall, are in second place in the North Eastern Athletic Conference's South Division with a 5-2 league mark.  

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