The Washington Times - February 23, 2009, 03:33PM

As we saw earlier, Maryland is extremely comparable to Southern California, a quintessential bubble team out of the Pac-10.

It’s tough to find teams so similar at this stage of the season. But it’s still worth it to try to compare the Terps to someone else that could be in the same straits as the Terps, if only to see how each stacks up with three weeks until Selection Sunday.

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So here comes another compaison, with data courtesy of collegerpi.com:

TeamMarylandMystery 
Record17-919-8
RPI5238
SOS2833
Noncon. SOS
129161
Top-503-74-5
100+9-114-0
Best wins
H: UNC (3)
N: Michigan St.  (5) 
H: RPI Nos. 31, 34, 42
N: RPI No. 33
Bad losses
H: Morgan St. (144)
None
Road1-53-5
Road + Neutral 
3-75-6

Maryland has the advantage in strength of schedule,  and it also possesses the superior victories at the top of its resume. The records are close, especially since one of the mystery team’s wins was against a non-Division I team and really doesn’t count. The mystery team also gorged on awful opponents.

But the Terps also have a bad loss, haven’t done nearly as much away from home, are trailing in RPI and don’t have the breadth of victories the mystery team has.

Based on the adjustments in the strength of schedule, you can be certain the mystery team hasn’t played many lousy teams in its conference. Sure enough, it’s been nothing but top-100 opponents besides a recently completed sweep of No. 131.

One thing that hurts the mystery team is the upcoming schedule. Its next three games are against teams outside the top 50 (and two are outside the top 100). They basically qualify as must-wins, in much the same way Maryland would be well-served to win at Virginia next month.

One other matter that shouldn’t matter but will get pointed to anyway: The mystery team is 5-7 in its league, with one of the losses (at home against RPI No. 75) acting as its worst defeat of the year.

The verdict? The mystery team probably owns a slightly better profile and should be included just before Maryland. But the teams could post identical records the rest of the way and the Terps could surge ahead simply based on the opportunities presented.

For what it’s worth, the mystery team is Texas A&M, which is amazingly done with its home-and-homes against the Texas and Oklahoma schools in the Big 12. Instead, it is nothing but Big 12 North opponents remaining.

If the Aggies go beat Nebraska like they can and Iowa State and Colorado like they should, they’ll be in good shape. But they haven’t won three straight since league play began, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if Maryland does hopscotch them before the season is through.

Patrick Stevens