Dim the lights! Break out the popcorn! Clemson at Maryland; this is must see TV.
Or is it? The bracketologists from cbs.sportsline.com and espn.com both have the Terps solidly in the dance. However, ESPN’s bubble watch piece has Maryland falling in the category of “work left to do.” So whichever expert you want to believe will give you a different spin on Maryland’s chances. I guess the way to put it is this. A win tonight against Clemson will pretty much seal their bid (I don’t see any way that they are going to dump one to Virginia next week). The debate comes with how much damage a loss would do. Can the Terps split their last two games, end up 9-7 in the ACC, 19-12 overall and still get in? If you feel confident that 19 wins overall and 9 wins in the ACC will get Maryland into the tournament, I can’t blame your logic. If you are afraid that with an RPI 59 they will be left out in the cold, I can’t blame your logic either.
However it shakes out, let’s say they don’t get in. What would that mean? It would mean that in the last six years since they won the National Title, they have missed the tournament three times. Three out of the last four years actually. And their immediate future doesn’t look so bright. I know that one of his latest blogs, Steve Hennessey stated that Wake Forest was the youngest team in the ACC and that Maryland was second. There may be some formula where this works out, but not in a practical sense. Two of Maryland’s top three scorers are seniors. These two, Gist and Osby, happen to also be the top two rebounders. Comparing that to some other ACC teams makes this look even worse. Out of Virginia Tech’s top six scorers, one is a Senior and four are Freshmen. Out of Boston College’s top five scorers three are Freshmen and none are Seniors. And Duke, well, they only have one Senior on the roster.
Unless these Juco transfers are great, the incoming Freshmen class is better than expected, or some of this year’s Freshmen improve immensely over the summer, there is no real reason to think that Maryland is going to be better next year than this year. At least I don’t see a reason. Plus, if this they actually do miss the Big Dance this year that would mean that if they would be heading into next year with the chance of missing four years out of five. That can’t be good for recruiting. Try going into some high school kid’s house and talk about how good your team was when he was in fifth grade. I think St. John’s has tried that and it didn’t seem to work for them either.
I guess the picture that I’m trying to paint is that Maryland is dangerously close to becoming irrelevant on the national landscape. Now I think they can all but put a halt to this slide with a win tonight. Can they get one? We’ll see. You talk about a playoff atmosphere. There will be one at the Comcast Center. This is what it’s all about. I’m ready, I know that.