Maybe it was after the North Carolina loss that I started realistically entertaining the idea that the Terrapins wouldn’t make the tournament. But then we pulled off the upset against North Carolina State in the previous game, so I pushed those inner demons deep down inside of me. After all, young teams go through ups and downs, and UNC is a hostile environment, right?
After the Duke loss, I kind of started getting a little wary of the team. Tournament teams do get blown out on occasion, especially by then-No. 1 teams like Duke on the road. I mean, sure they gave up a little over halfway through the game, but then that stuff happens to young teams, right? Right, Michael? Right, Michael. We’re still a tournament team…I think.
The second loss to Florida State though? Well let’s just say the inner demons aren’t so inner anymore. That wasn’t a soul-crushing loss simply because it was one that ended in the final seconds. No, teams can recover from losses like that and they do it all the time. You could even make the case that losses like are the best losses, because at least teams can continue on with the attitude that “We should have won that game if it weren’t for one final mistake!” You don’t lose your swagger that easily.
What is a bit more unnerving about the whole situation is that there’s just not a whole ton of basketball left to play in order to bolster that tournament resume. I mean, look at the remainder of the schedule. Wake Forest twice, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, and Boston College each once. Four of those games are on the road, and we all know how the Terrapins are on the road. Even if we assume the Terrapins win every single one of those games and go 5-0, it just doesn’t do a lot for the team outside of improving their record.
Outside of those games? UVA (2x), Duke, and North Carolina. At this point, you really have to question the Terrapins ability in each of those games. Duke and North Carolina are at home, but after the performances put on by the Terrapins in the first round against those two, do you really think it’s feasible they will win those games? The Terrapins struggle with three-point shooting, perimeter ball-movement teams, and that’s well documented.
Don’t even get me started on Virginia, who I am more than concerned about. Before upsetting NC State this past game, they were running Florida State, Boston College, and Wake Forest out of the gym in blowout wins. Against similar opponents, Maryland just hasn’t done nearly the same thing. The two teams are similar, but not by that much. Virginia just looks like the better team at this point. They rebound well and shoot well enough to make the Terrapins hurt.
Using a simple, realistic, and honest approach to the remainder of the schedule gives the Terrapins a .500 record in the ACC, and that just may not be enough to convince a committee of our eligibility for the tournament. Right now the Terps are a *gulp* “fringe team.” Any time your team gets labeled in that manner, it means things are almost out of your control at this point. Save for winning out, the Terrapins have an uphill climb.
While they may not be a terrible team, they certainly aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. Their ability to turn the ball over 18 times a game and lose by only two points baffles all standard basketball logic. Their rebounding ability is phenomenal and keeps them in games, and they actually used to be an effective passing team. They have a 7’1 stud in Alex Len and a slasher who is unstoppable at times in Dez Wells, yet they struggle to score. None of the team makes sense, and their identity is unknown. A confused selection committee is a bad thing for the Terrapins, but that’s what they are right now.
I love Maryland as much as the next guy, but this team is going to have to do something to impress the fans now. Because right now what they are doing is summarily unimpressive. Until they get another big win, I will remain wary of this team in a big-game environment.
The scariest part is that fan opinion doesn’t even matter come Selection Sunday. We’re easily impressed. Unfortunately the committee might not feel the same.