The Washington Times - January 20, 2009, 03:07PM

Let’s give Maryland‘s resident bracketologist some credit.

Dave Neal happens to be a realist.


The topic of what Maryland must do to make it to the NCAA tournament was broached yesterday, with Neal being asked how much victories it might tak.

“I don’t know exactly what the number is,” Neal said. “Usually it’s 20 games, 21 wins. If you’re 8-8 in the conference, that’s pretty good. With mid-major teams and how good some of those teams are getting now and how many teams are playing well in the mid-majors, you might have to win a little more.”

He’s certainly in the right ballpark. And with only so many at-large-worthy teams outside the five best leagues (I’ve excommunicated the struggling SEC for now from that power-conference cadre), the resume needed this season might not need to be quite so compelling as the recent past.

That said, with Maryland’s accomplishments and demerits to date, 21 victories still seems like the target the Terps need to reach.

That would mean either a 10-6 conference record with a first-round ACC tournament flameout, a 9-7 league record with a first-round victory or an 8-8 league mark with a push to the conference semifinals.

None of those scenarios look all that easy, especially with two losses in hand and a combined six games against Clemson, Duke, North Carolina and Wake Forest remaining.

But there are still 13 games remaining, and crazier things have happened in the past.

“If we win 21 games and go 9-7 in the conference, I think that’s a lock that you’re in the tournament,” Neal said. “You can’t really look toward that. We just have to come out here and play hard. We have to win the game we should win and we have to win the home games. Then we have to win some road games and go on the road with the mindset we can win road games because we showed we can play with just about any team.”

—- Patrick Stevens