Terps' Magic Number
Their coach might not want much, if any, part in this discussion, but Maryland's players, at least, understand the overtones of tomorrow night's game against Virginia. At 1-2 in conference play, the Terps can ill afford a home loss to a .500 team. Such a defeat would only muddy a team's NCAA tournament resume.
"We know we've got to win a certain amount of games to make it into the tournament, so we keep that in the back of our heads," senior forward Dave Neal said today. "But if we just come out and play here at Comcast I think we should be fine. Hopefully, we'll win all our home games; that's our goal."
Asked if he believed that meant tomorrow was a must-win for the Terps, Neal agreed.
"Yeah, tomorrow's pretty much a must-win," he said. "We know that to go 1-3 in the conference is going to be tough for us."
Neal keeps track of this sort of thing better than most college players, so he then was asked if he had a number in mind in terms of how many conference wins Maryland needed to collect to ensure an NCAA bid.
"I don't know exactly what the number is," he said. "Usually it's 20 games, 21 game wins and if you're 8-8 in the conference, that's pretty good. But with mid-major teams, how good some of those teams are getting now and how many teams are playing well in the mid-majors, we'll probably have to win a little more. If we win 21 games and go, say, like 9-7 in the conference, I think that's a lock that you're in the tournament.
"But you can't really look towards that; we've just got to come out here and play hard. We've got to win the games we should win and win the home games and then just go on the road with the mindset that we can win road games."
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