We’re less than five weeks away from Selection Sunday, and it’s time to start deep dives into the murky and often-baffling world of RPI and SOS and “quality wins.” First up? My Maryland Terrapins. Nope, I didn’t go to Maryland, but in the summer and preseason, I hyped the Terps and their future-NBA center Alex Len.*
Here’s the Terps’ resume:
Record: 17-7, 5-6 in the ACC
RPI (per ESPN): 70
Ken Pom ranking: 59
Record vs. the RPI Top 25: 1-2
Record vs. the RPI Top 50: 1-4
Strength of Schedule (per ESPN): 116
Good wins: vs NC State. Crickets …
Bad losses: Swept by Florida State
This is a very blah resume. NC State has been sliding, so that win (at home, on a last-second tip) isn’t very impressive. FSU has been sliding, too, so getting swept by the Seminoles trumps the win over the Wolfpack.
Saturday, in his latest bracket projection – which is futures-based and tied-to to Ken Pom stats – Jason Lisk had the Terps out. Obviously, the loss to Virginia Sunday didn’t help their cause.
Now, the good news – there’s a terrific opportunity for a win Saturday at home against Mason Plumlee and Duke. It’s a great spot, too – the Blue Devils have been hit/miss on the road lately (lost to NC State, shelled by Miami, escaped Wake, whipped FSU). They barely beat BC Sunday, 62-61. Wednesday, Duke hosts rival UNC. The Terps should hope for a post-Heels letdown and, having no mid-week game themselves, beat the Blue Devils.
They’ll need to, because the only other chance at a Top 50 RPI win is against UNC (at home, March 6th). Good luck getting an at-large bid with one Top 50 win.
And really, at this point in the season, do you trust the Terps on the road to handle auto-wins like at BC, at GT, at Wake? Things are very, very bleak in College Park.
The Terps must beat Duke. If they fail to do that, the game against North Carolina becomes the entire season. Lose both and the Terps will only be dancing if they win the ACC tournament.
* Len is being criminally misused by Mark Turgeon. If you think Indiana runs a weird offense that occasionally results in Cody Zeller not getting shots, you’d lose your mind watching with the way Len is used. He’s a 12-8 guy right now, but it should be closer to 18-10 like Mason Plumlee. How is Len only playing 26 minutes a game? How is he only getting 8.9 shots a game? And taking 4.1 free throws a night? Get him the ball down low, and let the 7-footer go to work. The guy is a Top 10 draft lock.