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Posted at 7:35 AM ET, 01/28/2011

A look at Maryland's NCAA tournament hopes after the victory at Virginia

By Eric Prisbell

So Maryland earned a much-needed and convincing 66-42 road victory against Virginia on Thursday night. The Terrapins, who have faced a steep climb toward an NCAA tournament bid much of this season, are headed in the right direction. But they still have ground to cover. A look at their resume as we approach February:

Maryland
Record: 13-7
RPI: 75
SOS: 51
Vs. top 50: 0-6
Vs. top 100: 3-7
Vs. 200 or worse: 7-0
Best win: at Penn State (55)
Worst loss: Virginia Tech (74)
Road-neutral court: 3-5
As of today: bubble
Comment: If the season ended today, Maryland would not be in the NCAA tournament. But as many so-called bubble teams continue to take small (Gonzaga) or large (Miami) steps backward, the Terrapins inch forward in the right direction. Right now, they are at least in the discussion, even though there is not a compelling reason to include them at this point. To date, Maryland's biggest accomplishment is the lack of an eyesore. Yes, the manner in which the Terrapins lost to Virginia Tech -- a 17-point loss, their worst ever loss at Comcast Center -- was unsightly, but it was a home defeat against a top 74 team in the RPI -- not a resume killer. Maryland's resume can be summed up in one word: bland. The Terrapins lack a signature win or ghastly loss, which this season is enough to keep them on the fringes of making the 68-team field. As I have said before, Coach Gary Williams has rallied his team in past seasons when few thought possible. He could do so -- and may already be in the process of doing so -- this season, but this season he confronts one factor outside his control: the mediocre state of the ACC. Teams need quality victories -- wins against the RPI's top 50 -- to impress the NCAA tournament selection committee. To earn quality victories, they need opportunities against quality teams. Because the ACC is down, Maryland has just four remaining games against top 50 teams: Duke (RPI: 9), at Boston College (29), Florida State (47), at North Carolina (16). As watered down as the tournament field appears to be this season, an 0-6 record against top 50 teams is unlikely to cut it. Maryland likely needs two or three wins against top 50 teams and likely nine or 10 ACC wins overall to have a reasonable chance at an at-large bid. Beating Duke on Feb. 2 would give the Terps a considerable boost, but I don't think it's a necessity if they can beat North Carolina and Florida State later in the season. Their margin for error remains small, but the Terps are quietly gaining some momentum with another much-needed road opportunity looming Sunday at Georgia Tech.

By Eric Prisbell  | January 28, 2011; 7:35 AM ET
 
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Comments

So Maryland lost by 17 points at home for their worst loss ever at the Comcast Center. How much did Syracuse lose by the other week at the Carrier Dome? Why don't people talk about that horrible loss?

Posted by: Dougmacintyre | January 28, 2011 7:48 AM | Report abuse

Maybe we should change our nickname from Terps to Bubbles. We could have a busty dumb blonde as the mascot!

Posted by: petecard | January 28, 2011 8:35 AM | Report abuse

Shirley, pay the man

Posted by: mike201 | January 28, 2011 11:35 AM | Report abuse

I agree this is a quality NIT team. I like them in the final 4 of the NIT. I'd expect the ACC to lead the pack with NIT bids this year. And on the heel of that Big Military Bowl victory this has to be one of the best years for Maryland sports.

Posted by: wynnebs | January 28, 2011 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Eric,

The Terps' out-of-conference scheduling is as much a factor as the weakness of the ACC.

Home games against Seattle, Greensboro, NJ Institute of Technology and Colgate? All are likely to be among the 50 worst teams in America.

Delaware State, Elon and North Florida (all were at home) aren't much better.

If Maryland replaces a couple of those with away games against Top 50 competition, they'd be taken more seriously.

I know they played Pitt and Villanova away from home. I still think there were too many cupcakes.

Posted by: richmondreader | January 28, 2011 12:00 PM | Report abuse

This all sounds about right and I'll take it. They fight hard and have some skill. As a long-time Terp fan I know we're not getting a fully polished product every year. But they seem like they might be getting better and that's what a good coach does.

Go Terps!

and now I'm all for a 68 team field!

Posted by: bschaper | January 28, 2011 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Doug: if you go to a Syracuse blog, I'm sure there's plenty of hand-wringing over that loss.

Mike201: good one -- but you're also on the wrong blog.

Richmondreader: Everyone schedules cupcakes. Playing OOC games against Charleston, Pitt, Illinois, Penn State, Temple, and Villanova is pretty respectable. The problem isn't the Terps' OOC schedule; it's that they didn't win enough of those games.

Critical game at GT this Sunday. If the Terps win it and keep the momentum going, I like our chances for the NCAA. If they lose Sunday, I think we're in real trouble.

Posted by: SmittyATL | January 28, 2011 12:56 PM | Report abuse

I know they played Pitt and Villanova away from home. I still think there were too many cupcakes.

Posted by: richmondreader | January 28, 2011 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Dude, everyone plays cupcakes. It gets real old hearing people complain about major conference teams playing cupcakes, because EVERYONE does it. Maryland played, away from home, Temple, Penn State, Villanova, Illinois, Duke, and Pittsburgh. Show me another team major conference team in the country that has played more quality teams away from home thus far this season. Seriously...complaining about MD's schedule this season only serves to show your ignorance.

Posted by: Barno1 | January 28, 2011 2:53 PM | Report abuse

How much did Syracuse lose by the other week at the Carrier Dome? Why don't people talk about that horrible loss?

Posted by: Dougmacintyre | January 28, 2011 7:48 AM

Syracuse is 18-3 with 10 quality wins. Getting run by Seton Hall was alarming and talked about nationally, but they can afford a few losses in a row. Maryland's horrible effort against VT came at a bad time - and really no one is paying much attention to Maryland basketball nationally so "people" did talk about Cuse-Hall more.

Posted by: Kev29 | January 28, 2011 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Show me another team major conference team in the country that has played more quality teams away from home thus far this season.

Posted by: Barno1 | January 28, 2011 2:53 PM

St. Johns --

at St. Mary's
vs Arizona St.
at West Virginia
at Providence
at Notre Dame
at Louisville
at Georgetown

Notre Dame --

vs Georgia
vs California
vs Wisconsin
vs Kentucky
at Syracuse
at Marquette
at St. John's
at Pittsburgh

Purdue --

vs Richmond
at Virginia Tech
at Valparaiso
at Michigan
at Penn St.
at Minnesota
at West Virginia
at Ohio St.

Texas --

vs Illinois
vs Pittsburgh
at USC
vs North Carolina
at Michigan St.
at Kansas
at Oklahoma St.

UConn --

vs Wichita St.
vs Michigan St.
vs Kentucky
at Pittsburgh
at Notre Dame
at Texas
at Marquette

Posted by: Kev29 | January 28, 2011 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Kev and Barno:
Maybe if we qualified that to say "Non-conference away games". Those Big East teams with away games within the conference don't count. For instance, St. John's gets credit for playing St. Mary's and Arizona St., but they have to play WVU, G'Town, and the others because they are within the conference. The contention was about Maryland playing a weak schedule outside of the ACC. Playing Pitt, Temple, Villanova, and Illinois should count for something.

Would've been better had we won a couple of those games though. Then there wouldn't be talk about the bubble...

Posted by: ecglotfelty | January 28, 2011 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Maryland played an excellent non-con road/neutral schedule, no doubt about that. My gripe is that they did not do a great job of balancing the schedule. IMHO, they should try to get more home and home series opponents to up their Comcast non-con games. Instead they schedule too many "guaranty games" at home and leave themselves a grueling road/neutral slate. That's contributed to their 0-6 record v top 50 opponents.

Posted by: Kev29 | January 28, 2011 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Maryland played some terrible teams at home during the non-conference schedule (RPI)...

Seattle (292)
Delaware St (213)
Elon (247)
UNC Greensboro (295)
NJIT (337)
Colgate (305)

I bet if the Terps played teams ranked in the 100 to 200 RPI range, the Maryland RPI would improve dramatically. The Terps should just as easily beat a team with an RPI of 150. Seems like the Terps always have these teams drag them down. The only possibility is the payout might be cheap so it makes the team more money.

Posted by: TerpFan2001 | January 28, 2011 10:59 PM | Report abuse

Maryland has a pretty good bunch of young players. By the end of the season they won't be rookies anymore and the ACC tournament gives them a shot at being in the 68.

Gary specializes in growing his teams thru the course of the year. Are they a sure thing? Not at all, but when Howard, Bowie, Mosely, Gregory, Williams, Paulsson, Tucker, Stoglin, Padgett and Weijs are all on the same page it's going to take a powerful team to put them away. And they could take it all.

Posted by: tojo45 | January 29, 2011 1:26 AM | Report abuse

"So Maryland lost by 17 points at home for their worst loss ever at the Comcast Center. How much did Syracuse lose by the other week at the Carrier Dome? Why don't people talk about that horrible loss?

Posted by: Dougmacintyre | January 28, 2011 7:48 AM"
-->Because Syracuse has a much better resume. If this we're the BCS they'd be knocked out but for the top 20 or so teams in college basketball, not every game is a "must win" to make the tourney at this point of the season.

Posted by: mle916 | January 29, 2011 9:13 AM | Report abuse

"Eric,

The Terps' out-of-conference scheduling is as much a factor as the weakness of the ACC.

Home games against Seattle, Greensboro, NJ Institute of Technology and Colgate? All are likely to be among the 50 worst teams in America.

Delaware State, Elon and North Florida (all were at home) aren't much better.

If Maryland replaces a couple of those with away games against Top 50 competition, they'd be taken more seriously.

I know they played Pitt and Villanova away from home. I still think there were too many cupcakes.

Posted by: richmondreader | January 28, 2011 12:00 PM"
-->You must have missed Gary's comment how they could go 14-0 out of conference every year if they wanted too. I agree those opponents we're weak, but Temple and Illinois, which you didn't mention aren't. And CofC gave them a run for their $$$. Overall, they could've done worse out-of-conference scheduling.

Posted by: mle916 | January 29, 2011 9:16 AM | Report abuse

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