- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The popularity of “bracketology” has boomed in recent seasons as more analysts have attempted to cobble together mock 65-team fields before the NCAA tournament.

Don’t count Maryland coach Gary Williams among its fans.

“It’s the worst I’ve ever seen it, and it will continue to do so as there’s new ways to get stuff out there,” said Williams, whose Terrapins visit Florida State tonight. “It’s everybody’s 15 minutes. Hey, I’ve got this bracket here. You throw it out there and nobody remembers it when the NCAA tournament starts.”

The Terrapins (16-9, 6-6 ACC) entered yesterday with a ratings percentage index of 45 according to collegerpi.com, a Web site that produces a virtual replica of the formula used by the tournament selection committee to seed the NCAA field.

The metric has proved particularly irksome to coaches in the ACC. The conference has five teams in the top 45 of the RPI, the same as the deep but less-heralded Missouri Valley.

“Everybody’s like ‘We’re taking four teams from the Missouri Valley’ and all this stuff,” Williams said. “I think [ESPN analyst] Digger Phelps has listed 100 teams making the NCAA tournament so far. He’s doing a good job. I guess it expanded. I didn’t read about it, so I guess I missed that.”

Williams reiterated yesterday he believes a .500 league record and “playing relatively well — whatever that is — in the ACC tournament” probably would get a conference team into the NCAA tournament. The Terps must split their last four games to secure an 8-8 conference record.

Only six ACC teams have missed the NCAA tournament with a .500 or better conference record since the field was expanded to 48 in 1980. One of those was last season’s 8-8 Virginia Tech team, while the only one with a winning league record to miss the tournament was Virginia (9-7) in 2000.

“You can’t expect your players not to hear about it,” Williams said. “They’re all the product of the Internet [era], so they see all that stuff. You can’t keep it from your players. You just hope you’re tough enough to realize what it is. It’s all speculation.”

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