On Monday night the NCAA selection committee did their first early reveal of the top 16 teams in the country, and while some choices aren’t all that shocking, (did you really think anyone other than UConn would be the overall number one pick?) there was one big surprise.
The committee’s top 16 are:
1. UConn, 2. Baylor, 3. South Carolina, 4. Mississippi State, 5. Florida State, 6. Washington, 7. Notre Dame, 8. Oregon State, 9. Maryland, 10. Texas, 11. Duke, 12. Stanford, 13. Louisville, 14. UCLA, 15. Kentucky, 16. Arizona State.
No. You didn’t read that wrong. The Maryland Terps are currently 9th overall, or a three seed.
The Terps are currently 19-1 and undefeated in conference play. Their only loss remains a 6-point loss to the undefeated Huskies. They are also currently third in both the AP Poll and USA Today Coaches Poll. By those rankings alone, they should be a No. 1 seed.
So what’s with the discrepancy? The most likely answer is strength of schedule. Maryland is currently ranked 18th in terms of RPI.
But one would think that strength of schedule would play more of a factor in both their AP and coaches poll rankings. Is it possible that the committee is dropping Maryland due to an early tournament exit last year in the second round to Washington? For now, the answer remains a mystery.
However, let’s look at the other factors working in the Terps favor. Maryland has two All-Americans on their team in the form of seniors Shatori Walker-Kimbrough and Brionna Jones. They have perhaps the most dynamic freshman point guard in the country, Destiny Slocum. Moreover, they are once again the most likely team to win the Big 10, and gave UConn one of the Huskies only close contests all season.
But the most important question to consider: are there really eight better teams in college basketball besides Maryland?
That seems pretty hard to believe.