It’s hugely disappointing after the Terps opened the season as a consensus top 3 team in the country, and have spent most of the season in the top five, that they fell off and barely stayed in the top twenty. But although they lost to Michigan State in the Big Ten tournament, at least they seemed like they’re ready to play with the other top teams again.
And on selection Sunday, the Terps were given a five seed, and will face off Friday against South Dakota State. A five seed is also disappointing, although it really wasn’t much of a surprise. It’s pretty crazy that they have a lower seed than they did last year.
But I actually couldn’t love the Terps’ road to the final four more. Their bracket is cake, all things considered. I’m not saying they’re making a run at the title, because I don’t trust the team to play consistently night in and night out, but looking at the South region, the Terps have a clear road to get to the Final Four if they play up to their capabilities.
The Terps start out with a game that they should win without any concern. Although the 12-5 upset is a possibility, South Dakota State should be no match for an upper level Big Ten team. Maryland by double digits.
The next game up would likely be against California, who finished fourth in the Pac 12. I realize the Pac 12 got seven teams in the tournament, and has been surprisingly competitive this year, but I see this as a game the Terps should roll in. They have far more talent, and California in my opinion got over-seeded as a four. The committee gave too much love to the Pac 12, and not enough to the Big Ten. Oregon being ranked over Michigan State as a one seed is the upset of the tournament already. Indiana was a top ten team last week, and only got a five seed. Michigan, who was a bubble team before knocking off regular season champion Indiana in the Big Ten tournament, barely squeaked in and is still in a play in game. So I think California comes in to this tournament overrated, and Maryland underrated.
The next game up would potentially be Kansas, and although Kansas has the talent to win a national championship, they’re also the type of team that lets you down when you count on them the most. I can’t tell you how many of my brackets have been busted by the Jayhawks over the years. To be honest, I think there’s a great chance that UConn beats them. Whoever the Terps would play in the Sweet Sixteen would obviously not be easy, but I think Kansas is a beatable one seed and the Terps have already taken care of UConn once this year. Colorado wouldn’t even be a threat if they squeak through to this round. They barely managed a .500 Pac 12 conference record.
The Elite Eight game would likely be against Miami or Villanova, and of course these would be tough games. The potential matchup in this region that scares me most is Miami. Going back to Maryland’s ACC days, the Hurricanes always were a thorn in the Terps’ side. I think their big men would dominate the glass against the Terps, which would basically eliminate any chance of Maryland winning, unless the guards stepped up from what we’ve seen in the second half of the year. A matchup with Villanova would also be tough, but I think the Terps are battle tested enough to have a legit shot to win.
In order for the Terps to make it to the Final Four, obviously they’d have to play as well as we all hoped they would be playing around this time of the season, and I wouldn’t put money on that happening. But their road to the Final Four is honestly very doable. Outside of a potential matchup with Miami, none of these teams are scaring me to the point where I feel Maryland wouldn’t have a good shot at advancing.
I’m not saying the Terps are making the Final Four this year, but I’m also saying they’re path as a five seed isn’t all that bad.