If you’re clicking on this entry, you probably need to go back and read the preceding post first. It’ll explain everything that needs to be explained.
Anyway, this little endeavor is an attempt to illustrate just how valid a case Maryland coach Gary Willliams has that his team should be ranked ahead of other worthy contenders at this stage of the season. At 11-2, Williams is looking for a little national attention, and after a summer filled with criticism and doom-and-gloom predictions, you just knew Williams would take this approach if the opportunity was afforded to him.
And so it has been with Maryland’s solid start, one that features no inexplicable losses and a couple quality victories. But the numbers can tell the tale for this little exercise much more efficiently than anything else:
Victories: Michigan State (N), Michigan (H)
Losses: Gonzaga (N), Georgetown (N)
Bad losses: None
Average scoring margin: +12.8
But let’s bring out our second mystery team in the hopes of engaging in a solid comparison:
Victories: Xavier (A), UAB (H)
Losses: Ohio State (A)
Bad losses: None
Average scoring margin: +12.1
What an intriguing resume that is. Although the RPI isn’t the greatest tool at this stage, the mystery team trumps Maryland there and in strength of schedule. The scoring margin is about the same, and there’s nothing wrong with either teams’ losses.
The mystery team has a couple other victories over opponents that are solid in the season’s early stages and would be acknowledged as generally good (if unheralded) teams – Drake, Cleveland State and Bradley.
The amazing thing about those secondary victories is they all came on the road. Toss in the win at Xavier, and that’s some exceptional early-season road work for any team.
Maryland, meanwhile, won’t play its first true road game until Jan. 14. That’s a pretty serious difference.
Most of the statistics – RPI, strength of schedule, overall record, and especially road performance – lean toward the mystery team. So who is it?
If you said:
You’re a winner.
Based on the results to date, Williams DOES NOT have an especially persuasive case Maryland should be ranked ahead of the team that check in at No. 25 in the most recent Associated Press poll.