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I really hate to burst your bubble, but ...

March 13, 2005|by MARK KELLER

You can argue RPI and strength of schedule all you want, but the cold, hard truth is this:

Maryland does not belong in the NCAA Tournament. (Sorry, Mom.)

Eleven straight appearances in the tournament has no bearing. Playing the ninth toughest schedule in the nation this season only carries so much weight.

In order to earn its way in to the NCAAs, a team has to produce on the floor. And for the majority of the 2004-05 season, Maryland simply has not produced.

Yet, somehow, the "experts" say the Terrapins still have a chance of making the field. That, to me, is not an indication of the strength of this Maryland team, but rather the sad state of the college game right now. (That's a subject for another day.)

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The Atlantic Coast Conference is, without a doubt, the strongest basketball league in the country. But does a team that finished eighth in the regular season and lost in the first round of the conference tournament really belong in the big dance?

I don't think so.

Fans are quick to point out that Maryland beat Duke twice this season. I'll counter with the fact that the Terrapins lost THREE times to Clemson, a team that finished behind the Terps in the standings.

Maryland beat Georgia Tech once, but was swept by North Carolina State. The Terps also lost games to Miami and Virginia Tech.

The Terps nearly pulled off an upset against North Carolina late in the season, but they got blown out by the Tar Heels early in the season.

Maryland's two most significant nonconference victories were against Memphis and Temple, neither of which appears to be getting into the NCAAs.

It's been a frustrating season for Maryland fans, because of the high expectations that surrounded the team following its unlikely run to the ACC Tournament title in 2004. The Terps returned nearly every player from that squad, leading most to figure an NCAA berth was a cinch.

But inconsistency has been Maryland's biggest enemy all season. And it's hard to make a case for a team that has lost seven of its last 10 games.

Maybe the Terps will still sneak into the 65-team field. If they do, they'll be stealing a spot from a mid-major team that plays like it really wants to be there in the first place.




Mark Keller is sports editor of The Herald-Mail. His column appears every Sunday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2332, or by e-mail at keller@herald-mail.com

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