The Washington Times - January 26, 2009, 10:34PM

Duke, you might have heard, returned to No. 1 in the AP poll today for the first time since the end of the 2006 season.

Of course, the Blue Devils only fell out of the top 25 on two occasions since then, so it wasn’t that much of a drought in the big picture. Duke never really went away.

SEE RELATED:


Maryland, though, hasn’t been in the rankings since the end of the 2006-07 season. Last year was the first the Terrapins didn’t appear in the top 25 since 1992-93. It was an impressive streak, which makes the failure to extend it especially noteworthy.

The best comparison, of course, for figuring out how Maryland stacks up in the short-term is to look at how many of the 73 power conference teams have broached the rankings since Maryland’s last appearance.

That leads to this list, with teams listed with date of last appearance:

* THIS WEEK (20): Duke, Connecticut, Pittsburgh, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Wake Forest, Louisville, Marquette, Michigan State, Texas, Clemson, Arizona State, Syracuse, Purdue, UCLA, Illinois, Villanova, Washington, Kentucky, Georgetown

* JAN. 19, 2009 (3): Notre Dame, Minnesota, Florida

* JAN. 12, 2009 (4): Baylor, California, Tennessee, Michigan

* JAN. 5, 2009 (2): Boston College, West Virginia

* DEC. 29, 2008 (1): Ohio State

* DEC. 22, 2008 (1): Missouri

* DEC. 8, 2008 (1): Kansas

* DEC. 1, 2008 (1): Miami

* NOV. 24, 2008 (1): Wisconsin

* NOV. 17, 2008 (1): Southern California

* MARCH 17, 2008 (3): Stanford, Vanderbilt, Washington State

* MARCH 10, 2008 (1): Indiana

* FEB. 18, 2008 (2): Texas A&M, Kansas State

* JAN. 28, 2008 (1): Mississippi

* DEC. 31, 2007 (1): Arizona

* DEC. 17, 2007 (1): Oregon

* NOV. 26, 2007 (1): N.C. State

* NOV. 19, 2007 (1): Virginia

* NOV. 12, 2007 (1): Arkansas

That’s 47. Which, based on some elementary math, means Maryland is one of 26 power conference schools not to appear in the top 25 in the last two seasons.

To satiate those curious folks out there, here are those 26 schools, in order of their last appearance over the last 20 seasons (info courtesy of the 2008-09 ACC media guide):

1. Maryland (March 12, 2007)
2. Virginia Tech (Feb. 26, 2007)
3. Alabama (Feb. 19, 2007)
4. Oklahoma State (Feb. 12, 2007)
5. Louisiana State (Jan. 22, 2007)
6. Georgia Tech (Dec. 4, 2006)

7. Iowa (March 13, 2006)
8. Cincinnati (Jan. 9, 2006)
9. Iowa State (Nov. 14, 2005)

10. Texas Tech (March 13, 2005)
11. Mississippi State (Jan. 24, 2005)

12. Providence (March 15, 2004)
13. South Carolina (Feb. 16, 2004)

14. Georgia (March 17, 2003)
15. Auburn (Jan. 20, 2003)

16. Seton Hall (Jan. 29, 2001)
17. St. John’s (Dec. 4, 2000)
18. DePaul (Nov. 20, 2000)

19. Florida State (Jan. 18, 1998)

20. Colorado (March 10, 1997)

21. Penn State (March 11, 1996)

22. Nebraska (Jan. 3, 1995)

23. Oregon State (March 13, 1990)

The quick scan did not reveal a top-25 appearance for Northwestern, Rutgers or South Florida in the last 20 years.

Needless to say, that’s not the greatest company to keep. Maryland, Oklahoma State and Georgia Tech are the only schools in the group with multiple Final Fours over the last 20 years.

But, for now anyway, it is the Terps’ company. One stabilizing force in the college basketball world – Duke at No. 1 – returned this week.

Another – seeing Maryland ensconced in the top 25 again – will have to wait a while.

Patrick Stevens