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What Do The Terps Need?

I was posed an interesting question yesterday during a segment on Washington Post Live: Do the Terps have to win out the remainder of their three regular season games in order to gain an NCAA tournament berth?

I said that while Maryland's margin for error is incredibly slim, it does not have to win its last three regular season games. I think the Terps could get away with winning two of their final three and then claiming at least one win in the ACC tournament.

However, I also think that, should that scenario play out, which opponent the Terps fall to over their next three games will matter just as much as the fact that it lost one of its final three. Maryland finishes out the regular season at North Carolina State, versus No. 13 Wake Forest and at Virginia.

With that in mind, I'd like to pose two questions pertaining to Maryland's NCAA tournament chances. For some added context, the Terps are ranked No. 57 in RPI and No. 22 in strength of schedule at the moment. They have two wins over top five teams and are 1-5 on the road.

By Steve Yanda  |  February 27, 2009; 7:12 AM ET
Categories:  Men's basketball  
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If the Terps win any two of their last three and at least one in the ACC Tournament that MAY be enough. Better is one of the wins includes WF, but an away win or two is also important.

So much depends on things that cannot be controlled. Things like VTech's win over Clemson and all of the other results that effect the glut of bubble teams. These will simply have to play-out.

As I have said before, we are in a real crap shoot. The only real way we can assure ourselves of a bid is to win ALL three and one game in the tourney.

Now that is a goal that we should all hope the team has.

Posted by: petecard | February 27, 2009 8:53 AM | Report abuse

If I were a selector (I'm not, so don't worry), the things that would impress me most are:
1) a road win. Maryland's NCAA game would be on the road. You don't want teams that can only win in front of their own fans.
2) a road win at Virginia. That's a big traditional rivalry game that's usually won by the home club.

Things I'd worry about with Maryland:
1) they're not as talented as past Terp teams, particularly inside. When they win, they're frequently playing above their heads, so to speak. If they got a low seed, would they give a much higher seeded opponent a game?
2) they're streaky. Eerily inconsistent. It's like they have Vasquez' personality profile -- All-World, or should be on the bench. So are they hot coming into the tournament, or am I risking a first-round blowout?

Posted by: Samson151 | February 27, 2009 9:05 AM | Report abuse

As usual, Gary Williams does his best job when his back is against the wall. That means what will happen is that Maryland will lose to NC State on Sunday, and come out guns blazing against Wake and probably find a way to win. That will leave a trip to UVA where pretty much anything could happen. UVA has found a way to play pretty solid when they want to, and the Cavs are probably the only team in the ACC that the Terps actually match up favorably against man to man. A win against UVA would probably give the Terps the 6 or 7 seed in the ACC tourney, which would probably land the Terps against either UVA or Miami in Atlanta, where the team would probably feel a lot more comfortable in their tournament hopes with one more win on the resume (getting them to that magic 20th win for the season). I think getting to 20 is the only way the Terps can really feel confident that they can get into the dance. Historically, very few 19 win teams make it to the NCAA, and with the increased exposure of mid-majors, fewer and fewer 19 win teams are getting into the tourney. So regardless of where they come, I really think this team needs 3 more wins to make it.

Posted by: Russtinator | February 27, 2009 9:54 AM | Report abuse

russtinator: "So regardless of where they come, I really think this team needs 3 more wins to make it."

I see your point. Don't necessarily agree, but you argue it very well.

Posted by: Samson151 | February 27, 2009 10:14 AM | Report abuse

I don't understand the frenzy toward making the tournament...they won't be competitive in the tournament unless they are playing their absolute best ball and they don't - they are inconsistent. This is a one and done bunch BUT beating NC was so so sweet.

Posted by: outrbnksm | February 27, 2009 11:00 AM | Report abuse

If they win their final three regular season games they are in, that being said two and an ACC tournament win gets them in.

Posted by: dargregmag | February 27, 2009 11:09 AM | Report abuse

I'm thinking one win and one in the conference tournament. If it's Virginia all the better.

Posted by: Samson151 | February 27, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

If they beat wake and win one other game they are in. If they don't beat wake we need 3 more wins.

Posted by: beas13 | February 27, 2009 2:21 PM | Report abuse

20 wins. no matter how they get there. that's the bar. 20 and they are in, 19 and they're a very bubble like 50/50...

Posted by: Lee26 | February 27, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

I have to agree--20 wins and they're in. Even if they only win 2 of the next 3, they could still earn an NCAA appearance by winning 1 game in the ACC tourney. (They've already clinched a spot in the NIT).

Posted by: Terptwin | February 27, 2009 5:58 PM | Report abuse

I said that while Maryland's margin for error is incredibly slim, it does not have to win its last three regular season games.

By Steve Yanda | February 27, 2009; 7:12 AM ET

This contradicts everything Steve Yanda has written on the subject. He previously declared 9-7 was the only way in, and stubbornly--and condescendingly--stood by this claim despite all the evidence to the contrary.

Posted by: Barno1 | February 28, 2009 3:31 AM | Report abuse

Can we please get a Terps beat reporter who was not in diapers when Gary Williams arrived in college park? This is not meant to offend Steve Yanda, but simply to point out that this kid has contradicted himself time and time again in his coverage and it's time we went back to having Prisbell as the sole Terps reporter.

Otherwise, we'll continue to have someone covering the team who knows about as much about this history of the program as my 6 year old niece.

Steve Yanda must go.

Posted by: Barno1 | February 28, 2009 3:32 AM | Report abuse


----- Original Message -----
From: Barno1
Sent: 01/26/2009 10:27 PM GMT
To: Steven Yanda
Subject: Message via

"Steve Yanda: It's going to take 9 ACC wins, most likely, for the Terps to have even a chance at earning an NCAA tourney bid."

You obviously pay zero attention to ACC history. 8 wins in the ACC gives you a 99% chance of getting a bid in the NCAA tourney. 9 wins makes you a lock. This year, 7 wins might give a pretty good shot, if a couple of those wins are against Duke, UNC, or Wake.

I'm sorry, but your comment was quite misinformed.

"Thanks for the feedback. I'll try harder to be more intelligent next time. -Steve"

Posted by: Barno1 | February 28, 2009 3:37 AM | Report abuse

Steve Yanda: "Thanks for the feedback. I'll try harder to be more intelligent next time. -Steve"

LOL. Good answer.

Posted by: Samson151 | February 28, 2009 5:44 AM | Report abuse

Steve Yanda,

Barno is so excited about his entry into the Koolaid Drinkers Hall of Mediocrity Bliss that he is beside himself.

He spends so much time running the "Hall of Shame," dissing people and taking them out of context that he must not have enough time to actually THINK.

In any case, as someone who attended Maryland when Lefty arrived, replacing Frank Fellows and boasting about making Maryland the UCLA of the East, my perspective is that you are doing just fine.

As George's dad is Seinfeld used to say, "Serenity Now." Barno's saying....

Posted by: petecard | February 28, 2009 9:22 AM | Report abuse

Interesting discussion, and I get March Madness on one level, but on another level I don't.

The one level, it is fun for the fans and big bucks for the media folks, the schools involved (perhaps not so much, I have no clue how much a one-and-done schhol gets) and supposedly the thrill of a lifetime for many college players.

On another level, the college season is way too long as it is, and there are other things a school really should extend to kids who attend and play on a big time program other than having March Madness for "bubble teams" be a big deal. In their case, in a case like Maryland's, these kids have already played around 30 games, the majority on an incredibly big stage with more hoopla, pressure, etc than a first or second round tournament game could ever probide.

If Maryland really had a chance to do some damage in the tournament I could see the issue. It can't and no one suggests otherwise. So, what's the big deal, whether they make it or not? Whether they beat the next team on the schedule, hey, bring it on--that's what ballin is about. Can they pull off a back-to-back against Duke and UNC, youza. To me, whether they get chosen for an extended tournament field that feds us couch potatoes into March, I don't know.

On the other hand, that is the stage that is current college sports, the regular season has an extended preseason, the regular season is intense beyond imagination, the post-season ACC tournament is greatly diminished in significance, and then we have to keep on going because there are maybe more games on the table.

Interesting discussion. However this plays out, unless lightening were to strike and they were to win the ACC tournament, and that would have to be some lightening, the pinnacle of this season for these kids and their fans has to be the stand that they made this past week against UNC and Duke. So, it's not like I won't be happy for the Maryland kids if they make the tournament, I really don't think it matters.

Posted by: cohenra | February 28, 2009 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Very good points, Cohenra.

I agree that making the NCAA is not a worthy goal in an of itself, at least for teams that are from major schools and really have little chance to do anything.

A logical extension of your thinking is that the NIT is a joke. After a long season when a team doesn't make the NCAA Tournament, who cares about the NIT. That tournament is all about money and coaches. Maybe, some would argue, young teams benefit from the experience. I don't really buy that.

Posted by: petecard | February 28, 2009 12:17 PM | Report abuse

RE: "Koolaid Drinkers" -Petecard

I honestly can't fathom the stupidity Petecard must possess to continue to use misuse this expression. To quote Inigo Montoya in the Princess Bride: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Please google the Jonestown Tragedy you unbelievable moron.

Posted by: Barno1 | February 28, 2009 12:58 PM | Report abuse

"I agree that making the NCAA is not a worthy goal in an of itself, at least for teams that are from major schools and really have little chance to do anything" -Petecard

This from the guy who has been b*tching incessantly on this blog about the Terps making the NIT 4 out of 5 years (which has not happened yet to my knowledge).

It's not that I want to suppress opposing viewpoints, it's that your comments are beyond idiotic. You have proven without any shred of doubt that you have the IQ of a hamster.

Posted by: Barno1 | February 28, 2009 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Pete, I agree with you about the NIT, which unfortunately is the logical extension of an awards/championship/better-league ladden culture that infuses kid's sports from the time they are about 9.

Money and prestige seem to drive the bus. I'd love it if the Tourneyment field was cut in half and everybody else could just let the season go. Yeap, here I agree with you, you don't make the Dance, go home.

Where you and I part company is that I think that making the Dance has become a thing in itself that is devoid of substance and full of fluff for at least the second half the field.

Back in the day, the best team in the country lost in overtime in the ACC tourneyment to the second best team in the best college basketball game that was ever played. It ended their season, and it was time for them to go home. If Maryland does not make the Dance this year, I hope that the powers that be at Maryland have the good sense and grace to allow this bunch of kids to do the same.

Posted by: cohenra | February 28, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse


I am perfectly happy letting the other bloggers decide.

Your opinion means nothing.

Posted by: petecard | February 28, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse


We don't disagree. I have fun with the tournament and the upsets, but the first two rounds are all about money.

What's funny is that many coaches, Gary included, want to extend the field. In this way they can make the tournament even in off years. That gives the coaches more to justify mediocre seasons.

In Gary's case, if he misses this year, that's four out of the last five. To some people that doesn't matter, but to me and many other Terps fans it suggests a program that just isn't where it should be.

Posted by: petecard | February 28, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Barno, since you love gary williams so much-maybe you should spend more time dry cleaning his shirts and polishing his shoes than making fun of Steve Yanda!

Posted by: Terptime | February 28, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Pete, you should check out the Duke websites; for the last four years, the younger guys are feeling exactly like you about their team's inability to go deep into the tournament, feel like the season is a "loss" if they don't. I think that such thinking has been fostered by over commercialization of sports and detracts from the fun, the real fun, of being a fan.

Think of what it meant to be a Red Sox fan for all those years when they never won the big one, often never got to the dance at all, until they invented extending the tournament from the World Series, to the Endless Season. You think that those guys would have traded one day of their lament to live in NY and root for the Yankees, or to have them trade Yaz or Rice for Mr. October?

I went to Cornell in the mid 60s when they actually had terrific, terrific clubs, but never did better than come in third in the Ivies. Now, I know you're going to say, "Yeah, but that was just the Ivies." Only problem with that is that my freshman year, WE beat PRINCETON when they came to Ithaca with the best player in college ball, a team that twice nearly beat a giant Michigan team and came into the nation.

My Junior year, the year after the Texas Western/Kentucky game, you know the one, which everyone says caused Rupp to finally decide to recruit a black, Cornell went down to Kentucky and played the nearly the exact same Kentucky team ranked 3d in the country. We were lead by a 6 foot junior who had the highest vertical I have ever seen and could and did shoot from the pro three line (there wasn't any then but that's another story), and could take it to the basket with the best of them. The papers said that Cornell shouldn't bother showing up, that it was going to be obscene. It was obscene all right, Greg Morris, a black Ivy Leaguer, dropped 37 on Pat Riley's head and Cornell walked out with a 30 point victory.

We also beat Columbia that year that had two future pros, one a perenial All Star, Princeton who had Joff Petrie who also was a perrenial All Star, and Syracuse and Penn, both of whom could play with most tournament teams when being in the tournament actually meant something.

Anyway, when I got down here and Lefty came and I got to see a Duke Maryland game when Buck killed a powerhouse Duke team all by himself, I thought I was dreaming, and I was a grown man. No one was hatin on Lefty then, even though he was a distant third or fourth in the league then. You get my point, I think Pete, and I do hope you get what you want and, more importantly, find a way to enjoy the heck out of what you get.

Posted by: cohenra | February 28, 2009 11:59 PM | Report abuse

Great story cohenra. There is much fun in watching an underdog over-achieve against the big boys.

I remember Lefty's arrival and the start of a new era in Maryland basketball. I never missed a game, even the freshman games with the incredible McMillan, Elmore, Trimble and company.

The 31-30 win against South Carolina, 6-5 at the half on a last second baseline shot by Howard White. Three steals at the end by Dick Stobaugh and the final shot by Jim O'Brien.

Lefty had his faults but we loved him. As you mentioned earlier, back then only the ACC Tourney winner got to the Dance, and we never did. But that was okay because the ACC Tournament was like a very meaningful first two rounds of today's NCAA tournament. When the tournament expanded we went most years and it was fun.

Many of us want Maryland to have an elite program. Gary has given us that in the past and we are greatful for the national championship. But let's face it, we /he has had a very tough 5 years.

The world has changed since Lefty's days. Now if a school (major) doesn't make the NCAA Tournament consistently it isn't even a good program, much less elite.
Right now we have a mediocre program.

The FOG's think Gary should be able to write his own ticket. Others of us think he needs to deliver. I don't want him to be fired, I just think we should be very careful about what we do at the end of his current deal.

We ALL want the team to succeed this year. But many of us know that things need to improve for Maryland to get to the elite level again and then stay there.

Posted by: petecard | March 1, 2009 10:22 AM | Report abuse

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