Jan. 8, 11 a.m.: This is the new normal for Maryland.
The Terrapins can say they are the state champs of Michigan, but they don’t own their own state this season. One impressive victory (Michigan State) is offset by a damaging loss (Morgan State).
Over the past few years, Maryland has shown the ability to play an exceptional game one night and beat a top 10, top 5 or even a No. 1 team. But they have also shown the propensity to lose to the likes of Ohio, American and Morgan State on their home court.
Coach Gary Williams remains one of the best coaches in the country, but the Terrapins have not recruited enough talent to be able to cruise in games against formidable mid-major or even low-major programs.
There is more parity in college basketball and upsets occur across the country. Western Kentucky beats Louisville. Portland State beats Gonzaga. Harvard beats Boston College. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that no national champion since 1990 has fallen as quickly as Maryland has.
Syracuse dipped in the years following the 2003 title, but the Orange is again challenging near the top of the Big East. For Maryland, it has become accustomed to fighting it out in the middle of the ACC pack and hoping for one of the final at-large berths to the NCAA tournament.
Maryland’s RPI dropped 25 slots to 75 after the Morgan State loss. Its strength of schedule is 139. It has two wins over top 50 teams, which is good. But the remaining schedule is daunting, and it will likely take nine or 10 ACC wins to earn an at-large berth.
Maryland is also the only team in the top 100 of the RPI yet to play a true road game.
The Terrapins can still write their own ending to the season. But at this point, another appearance in the NIT is a lot more likely than a return to the NCAA tournament.
January 8, 2009; 10:53 AM ET
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