For all of the analyzing, all of the vetting, all of the mentions of beating the No. 1 team in the country on its home floor, Maryland had absolutely nothing to show for its nonconference schedule.
Well, next-to-nothing. The Terps won at Charlotte (No. 68 in the RPI), but went 0-4 against their other top-100 nonconference opponents.
It placed an incredible onus on faring well in conference play, and 8-8 in the ACC isn’t what it used to be considering the improvement of many programs across the country.
Just four games into the season, Maryland has a victory that probably won’t lose its luster as the season goes along – a 80-62 defeat of No. 5 Michigan State at the Old Spice Classic.
Sure, the Spartans were without a starter in the post. And Raymar Morgan never got going.
But those things won’t matter come March.
By no means is this game by itself a magic key to the 65-team field. But it gives Maryland as good a start as it could have hoped for in starting to build a postseason resume.
It would help immensely for the Terps to split the final two games in Orlando – against Gonzaga or Oklahoma State tomorrow, and either Tennessee or Georgetown on Sunday.
Tonight, however, is a performance that will resonate for some time; and if someone happens to forget, here’s betting Gary Williams will mention how his team “beat the No. 5 team in the country on a neutral court” probably a couple dozen times between now and next year’s media day.