So Maryland still has a chance to secure an NCAA tournament at-large berth with just a fortnight before Selection Sunday.
And so do a bunch of other teams.
Thing is, Maryland has avoided a truly awful stretch for more than a month. And there hasn’t been a weekday/weekend combo without a win since the trip to Florida in mid-January. Consider:
at North Carolina/at Georgia Tech
at Clemson/North Carolina
Duke/at N.C. State
So it makes the Terps a little different than other teams that put together runs, both good and bad —- like these guys:
||H: UNC (3)
N: Michigan St. (4)
|N: RPI No. 12
H: RPI No. 43
||H: Morgan St. (153)
||A: RPI No. 204
|Road + Neutral
Based on raw win-loss record, the mystery team is better.
But everything else is pretty comparable or favors Maryland.
RPI? Close to a push. Same with road record. Both teams are an even 6-6 in their last dozen games, and the bad losses cancel each other.
But look at those quality wins and the nonconference strength of schedule. The mystery team spent a whole lot of time playing nobodies.
That’s why when you compare Maryland and Florida, it’s really hard to place the Gators more than a spot or two ahead of the Terps —- if you even do that. Billy Donovan‘s team was swept by Tennessee, split with South Carolina, lost to Louisiana State and lost in its trip to Kentucky.
Plus, that neutral court record includes victories in Jacksonville (over Central Florida), Orlando (against Missouri-Kansas City) and the Miami burbs (against Winthrop). Not exactly the highest quality opponents or truly neutral floors.
Maryland’s schedule strength (and opportunities to play good teams) will only improve in the next two weeks. Florida’s will decline. And that’s why if the two teams produce matching records the rest of the way, the Terps might just stand a better chance at tournament inclusion than than the program that won back-to-back national titles just a few years ago.
—- Patrick Stevens