I was just sitting in my office contemplating the rest of the Maryland men’s basketball schedule. Suddenly, I had that irresistible urge to do something you should never do the first week in February. I don’t mean ice luge the all night long before hosting Super Bowl party. I learned that lesson the hard way last year. No, I did something even worse than that. I looked at ESPN Bracketology.
According to the laws of physics, Bracketology is inherently flawed. It cannot be correct. There is no way to accurately predict NCAA tournament seeds this early in the year. Yet, Lunardi has a lot of exposure, and his crystal ball does have an effect on public opinion regarding the worthiness of teams to make the tournament. Despite the fact that it is completely inaccurate, I feel compelled to look at it weekly. If the Terps are on there, then I feel relieved, as if they’re in some safe zone. If they’re not on there, I get despondent, as if there is no chance they’ll make the tournament.
That said, the Terps aren’t in the bracket. They’re not in the first or second four out. As of right now, they’re not even in the tournament discussion. The Sports Bog noted that the Terps are #80 in RPI. They have Maryland listed as the sixth best local team behind VMI and George Mason. Ouch.
Where do we stand right now? My crystal ball is on the fritz, so I’m going to say the Terps can make the tournament. Maryland is 14-7 and 3-4 in the ACC. There’s a lot of season left. I can’t imagine Maryland beating UNC tomorrow, and they’ll probably lose to them again in a couple weeks. They’ll also lose to Duke again. I’m certainly hoping they can pull an upset in one of those games, but most of you would agree that those teams arguably “outclass” Maryland. You could probably throw Clemson on that list, too. Those teams constitute four games we will likely lose in the month of February. That’s the bad news.
The silver lining is that the rest of the schedule is really tough, which should greatly increase Maryland’s strength of schedule. If Maryland wins its other two games in February against Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech, and then wins out in March against NC State, Wake Forest, and UVA, I think they’ll make it. That combination would give Maryland an overall 19-11 record with a 8-8 conference record and a three-game win streak going into tournament selection. It would also give Maryland two wins against teams that are currently ahead of them in the conference, and would put them in position to finish as high as sixth in the ACC. The conference is strong this year and I believe the sixth team in the ACC makes it.
There you have it. Maryland can still make the tournament. It would be all the better if Maryland could get a big upset against a team from the Carolinas, but I’m not holding my breath. I think this season will ultimately be decided on March 3rd in College Park against Wake Forest. Don’t worry if the next few weeks are a roller coaster. If this team has patience and keeps its head down it might just cross the finish line at the end of the year.