Time’s ticking on me for actually putting some thought into my AP ballot for the week (which hopefully will be filed by around 10 p.m.).
So here’s one more comparison for Maryland before retiring this exercise for a while. Remember, this is just a matter of choosing which team has a better profile as of now.
Here’s the Terrapins’ resume with only one nonconference game remaining:
Victories: Michigan State (N), Michigan (H)
Losses: Gonzaga (N), Georgetown (N)
Bad losses: None
Average scoring margin: +12.8
And now the final mystery team in this little endeavor:
Victories: Creighton (H)
Bad losses: None
Average scoring margin: +14.6
Wow, some serious grazing going on here. If this team just lost one of those 14 games, it wouldn’t even warrant a bit of attention for a spot in the top 25.
At least this bunch – unlike Maryland – has been on the road a little bit. Up to now, that is steadily the best case against the Terps. When you’ve done nothing in a truly imposing environment, it’s hard to tell how good a team really is.
That said, that manner of thinking only goes so far. The mystery team has yet to play a top-100 team on the road, and the average margin of victory in those road games in 6.3 points. In other words, there aren’t exactly a plethora of routs.
The unbeaten record is nice, but at some point you’ve got to accomplish something significant. This team hasn’t matched what the Terps have done, even though Maryland has lost twice.
So which team is in this comparison?
If you said:
As much as I love to tout mid-major teams, Maryland DOES HAVE a good case to be ranked ahead of unbeaten Illinois State because of its quality victories and vastly better schedule strength.
Thus endeth this day-long guessing game. The point of it all: There are highly regarded teams Maryland owns a similar or better resume to. There are also unranked or barely ranked teams more deserving of a spot in the top 25 than the Terps.
It will all come out in the wash, anyway. Maryland will play Georgia Tech, Miami, Florida State, Virginia and Duke within the next three weeks, and by the time that stretch is over the Terps will have written their own ticket into the rankings or out of consideration, and that’s a much better thing than blindly comparing resumes even before conference play gets underway.