The Maryland basketball team moved to No. 2 in the polls on Monday.
However, did the Terps have a case for No. 1?
For the first time in program history, Villanova climbed up to No. 1 in both the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches polls. The Wildcats received 32 first-place votes while the Terps only ended up getting 13 votes for the top spot.
Both jumped up two sports as Villanova was previously third and Maryland was fourth. Both schools had 2-0 weeks, which placed them above North Carolina and Oklahoma.
This would’ve been the first time that Maryland claimed the top spot as well. It also may have been warranted.
If you look at both records, both teams definitely deserve to be considered one of if not the top teams in the nation. Maryland and Villanova both only have three losses, but Maryland has one more victory in their back pocket.
The nonconference schedules of both times are an interesting barometer.
Villanova really doesn’t have any wins that stick out. The Wildcats defeated teams like Georgia Tech, Nebraska, and Stanford.
On the other hand, Villanova has losses to Oklahoma and Virginia on their resume. Obviously, neither are embarrassing losses by any hands, but the Wildcats were thumped by the Sooners by 23 points.
Maryland’s nonconference slate is somewhat similar as the Terps have wins over Connecticut, Georgetown, and Rhode Island. Many expected Connecticut and Georgetown to be more competitive when the games were originally scheduled.
In terms of conference play, Villanova started off their Big East schedule with a bang. The Wildcats trounced now No. 5 Xavier 95-64 at home. Villanova will travel to Xavier on Feb. 24 for a rematch between the two schools.
The Wildcats won their first seven conference games, which included victories over Butler and Seton Hall. Their only slip-up was an overtime loss to No. 20 Providence in overtime on Jan. 24.
Villanova has won their last three games against Creighton, Providence, and St. John’s. Wins against the Blue Jays and Friars this past week were responsible for the rise in the polls.
Maryland has had a similar start to Big Ten play as the Terps were victorious in their first four conference games. The four-game stretch included wins over Northwestern and Wisconsin.
Maryland did get tripped up in Ann Arbor to Michigan in a narrow loss and in East Lansing to No. 8 Michigan State.
The Terps have won their last four games, which included knocking off then No. 3 Iowa at home. The Hawkeyes currently sit at No. 4 in the Associated Press poll.
Maryland just defeated No. 18 Purdue on Saturday evening in a tight affair.
So now that we’ve looked extensively at each team’s resume, did Maryland deserve to be No. 1?
The answer is a definitive yes.
If you look at the overall picture, Maryland deserved the honor. The Terps went 2-2 against ranked teams and although that may not seem very impressive, Maryland’s two losses were against two of the current top eight teams in the nation.
Maryland’s worst loss was a nine-point defeat at the hands of Michigan State on Jan. 23. Meanwhile, Villanova’s worst loss was a 23-point drubbing at the hands of Oklahoma.
Villanova is just 3-3 against ranked teams this season and only has one more on their schedule at the moment.
It’s also not a stretch to say that the Big Ten has more talent than the Big East. After all, the Big Ten has four teams in the Top 25, including three in the top eight.
In you’re looking at the rosters, Maryland definitely is a more complete team.
The Terps have five players that average double figures to the Wildcats’ four. Villanova also only has one true big man in Daniel Ochefu while Maryland has a stable of talented bigs, including Robert Carter and Diamond Stone.
Villanova is very guard-heavy while Maryland is one of the bigger, more complete teams in the country.
Villanova is definitely a very talented group that could easily go deep into March, but with the current body of work in mind, my money would be on Maryland if I was picking a No. 1 team.