Feb 10, 2014; Charlottesville, VA, USA; Maryland Terrapins head coach Mark Turgeon gestures from the bench against the Virginia Cavaliers at John Paul Jones Arena. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
There are a few times in your life where you look into the mirror and say to yourself, “This isn’t where I want to be.” More recently for me, it was after I’d just finished a double-meat burrito at Chipotle and my gut seemed to overlap the edges of the steel-lined table at which I sat. I just knew, deep down, that wasn’t what I needed in my life, despite the taste explosion.
Well, that’s the Maryland Terrapins basketball team in a nutshell. As the ACC regular season comes to a close, and the Terrapins sit at a respectable 9-9 in conference play, but 17-14 overall, it isn’t where we want to be. Plenty of folks (analyst and fan) felt this Terps team might have enough to make it to the NCAA tournament, even with the departure of Alex Len to the NBA and the loss of both of their point guards to start the season. Flash forward to today, and while the Terps had some seriously impressive games (Syracuse, Duke, Virginia), they simply didn’t have enough to get over the hump until it was too late. Without an extensive ACC tournament run, the Terps are on the outside looking in this year.
But fear not, my downtrodden warriors, because we’ve still got NIT bracketology!
*Pops bottle of Champagne*
Yes, the Not Invited Tournament, the Losers Tournament, the little dance: the National Invitation Tournament. No one wants it, but if you have any interest in watching the Terps continue playing basketball (which I do), then it’s best you do your homework on the tournament. And believe it or not, it isn’t half bad.
The NIT used to be a really good tournament, then it was considered really bad as powerhouse teams that didn’t make the Big Dance decided not to play in it (Gary Williams tried to do just that in the mid-2000’s). Now? It’s somewhere in between in that it has some very good teams, and some just okay teams. But it still has plenty of publicity on ESPN, it’s own bracketology center, and some legitimate talent permeating through some teams with mediocre records.
Maryland’s likely to get a bid into it, but where? According to Bracket Matrix, Maryland is a five seed. To put that into some perspective, Florida State, Georgetown, California, and Nebraska are viewed as #1 seeds, while the #5 seeds are schools like NC State, St. Mary’s and Indiana. Not bad, not great. Still, Maryland wouldn’t be playing against weak opponents, and this tournament has some very close NCAA caliber teams. Maryland got beaten up by Fran McCaffery and Iowa last year, and now Iowa is in the NCAA tournament (more than likely). The Terps don’t want to be here again, but it still shows that your team isn’t that far off, and nor will be the opponents Maryland would play.
I know, it’s sad that we’re even looking at this. But the consolation prize is that within all of this there lies a potential Maryland-Georgetown matchup! Considering Georgetown whipped Maryland by almost thirty points the last time they played, this could be a nice redemption game for anyone who cares. It’s the rivalry we all want, anyway.