Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Road to the NCAA Tournament: Maryland

Maryland at 18-11 and 7-8 in the ACC is a bubble team that is currently a bubble team trying to get in to the NCAA tournament and avoid going to the NIT for the fourth time in five years. Although many analysts seem to believe that Maryland will get into the tournament, they need to take care of business before they can be sure.

The Terps have one regular season game left against Virginia and the ACC Tournament looming ahead, so they don't have much time to add to their resume. Let's take a look at Maryland's current resume (rankings as of March 3rd):

Maryland (18-11, 7-8 ACC)
SOS: 19
RPI: 57
Key wins: Michigan State, North Carolina
Wins against bubble teams: Virginia Tech, Miami, Michigan
Losses against bubble teams: Miami, Boston College, Georgetown
Key losses: Morgan State

Some things to think about:
--Virginia is a must-win.
Virginia has had a real down year, going only 9-17, losing 12 of their last 14 games. They literally have nothing more to play for, but they would love nothing more than to spoil's Maryland's party. The last thing Maryland needs to do a lose a terrible game this late in the season. Last year Maryland was faced with the same situation, a must-win in Virginia, and Sean Singletary and company beat the Terps down. The Terps can not have the same thing happen this year.

--A win might be necessary in the first round of the ACC Tournament.
Right now Maryland is looking at an seven or eight seed in the ACC Tournament. This could match them up against Virginia Tech or Miami in the first round, possibly NC State. This would be the perfect contest for Maryland, a bubble vs. bubble contest. If Maryland can win this it would give them a quality win plus put them (assuming a win over Virginia) at 20 wins on the season. Obviously two wins would be much better, but at the very least and realistically they need to win their first round.

--The ACC is a powerful conference.
This could be good or bad for Maryland. On the one hand, so many big time teams means that .500 in the conference looks very good. On the other, six teams are locks for the tournament and the Committee despite a weak mid-major field might be hesitant to take too many ACC squads. The Terps will still have to fight to prove themselves.

Right now, the Terps have their eyes set on Virginia. An uphill battle is still being fought, but the Terps still have a chance.

On a different note, it is reported by and ESPN that Florida State likely will been forced to forfeit most of its sports wins during the 06-07 and 07-08 seasons, including football. From the major sports this would include the 24-16 win over Maryland in football in 2007 and a 96-79 win over the Terps men's basketball team in January '07. But it will also impose infractions on Florida State, including the loss of scholarships.

(Photo credit: AP)

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