For the first time since 2003, the Maryland Terrapins have earned a spot in the top 10 of the AP Poll’s rankings. They have earned it by beating the No. 5 seed Wisconsin Badgers and holding an overall record of 24-5, and a Big Ten record of 12-4, which is second in the conference.
With the win over Wisconsin, not only did they earn a top 10 spot in the rankings, but they also pretty much secured for themselves a first and second round bye in the Big Ten conference tournament. Two games remain on the schedule, and both come against two of the worst teams in the conference.
Tomorrow night, the Terps will travel to Rutgers and take on the 10-19 Scarlet Knights. They will then go to Nebraska for the season finale on Sunday night. Assuming they come out victorious in both those games, they will probably end the season with an eighth or ninth rank, and will earn the second seed in the conference tourney.
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Their spot in the NCAA tournament will be determined on how far they go in the conference battle. Let’s say that they make the final round and fall there. In that scenario, they would probably wind up with a third seed in the tourney. If they lose in their first game, then they will most likely wind up with a fourth seed. If they win the conference tournament, then a two seed is in their sights.
The length of this team’s run in March Madness however, is in doubt. That is due to their young and inexperienced players. Freshman point guard Melo Trimble and sophomore shooting guard Jake Layman have lead the way for Maryland, but they have both yet to experience any postseason games in their college careers.
Perhaps the team’s best overall player, Dez Wells, does have some years under his belt on the other hand. He is in his fourth year, spending the first season with Xavier and the last three with Maryland. Although he does have four years of college experience, he has yet to participate in those March games.
It will be interesting to see how such a young team reacts to such great pressure and responsibility. Plenty of teams that are full of freshmen make long runs in the tourney, but head coach Mark Turgeon isn’t exactly a pro at these games, which could start the Terps off at a dis-advantage.
They have the talent to take this team late into March and perhaps even into April, but talent doesn’t mean everything. This team has gone through some struggles this year even despite their very impressive record and ranking.
The bottom line is this: time will tell.