Maryland seems to be in dire need of wins right now, a lot of wins. After two devastating losses by a combined 7 points, losses that may deny Maryland of an NCAA birth, the Terps head to the ACC tournament as the 7th seed facing NC State Thursday night. This is a win they need in a bad way. They lost double-digit leads in their two previous games and to help their confidence, they need to win. Whether it be in the NCAA tourney or the NIT, losing tonight will only set them up for a one-and-done showing in either of those tournaments.
Maryland has been a streaky team all year and if they could play only 20 minute games, they might have 25 wins right now. Unfortunately, they need to play 40 and if any time is a good time to start being consistent, tonight would be a step in the right direction. Surely I’m not saying that if they play hard and consistent for 40 minutes, that they’re going to the ACC Championship game. Making a commitment though for a string of 3 games is easier than making a commitment for 35 games. These kids are young and having them buy in to what Gary yells about every practice is easier to do over a weekend than a whole season.
That being said, some on the outside have 7 teams from the ACC getting into the tournament. That would make Maryland number 7 with tie breakers over Virginia Tech and Miami. With a 5 – 5 record over the last ten games, 6 – 9 over the last fifteen, they may be on the short-end on selection Sunday. Maryland does have a better record than Va. Tech (3 – 7, 5 – 10) and Miami (4 – 6, 6 – 9) in both those categories. Their RPI is ranked higher though (67) than Tech (62) and Miami (52) which is probably a negative.
Playing an optimist though, let’s take a look at what Maryland NEEDS to do at this point to get in. First option is to win the ACC tourney straight up. That’s an automatic bid and having to beat Wake, Duke and Carolina or even a Florida State would be something the committee couldn’t avoid. Even if the Terps got to the championship game and lost would be an accomplishment. That’s a tough road so here’s option number 2. Beat NC State, Wake Forest and lose a close game to Duke by 10 points or less. That’s avenging the loss to a big Wake team and playing Duke really close for the second time after getting pummeled in their first meeting. Third and last option is to beat NC State, lose to Wake and hope other teams looking to get in such as Providence, Michigan, Notre Dame, Nebraska, Wyoming and Kentucky lose early in their respective conference tournaments.
At the end of the day, the common denominator is a win tonight against NC State and anything less is just talk for now. Go Terps!