Charles Mitchell’s hook shot in the waning seconds of Maryland’s 69-67 loss to Duke on Saturday bounced around the rim, an unmerciful tease before falling away into the hands of the Blue Devils’ Amile Jefferson.
But with that unfortunate roll for Maryland, did the Terrapins’ hopes of an NCAA tournament berth take a severe hit, too, just by virtue of the way Mitchell’s final shot reacted on the rim?
Here’s what NBCSports.com’s Rob Dauster said in the immediate wake of the miss:
Today, the ACC might have lost two NCAA tourney bids thanks to a shot that rolled off the rim and a foul w/ no continuation. Wild.— Rob Dauster (@RobDauster) February 16, 2014
It’s hard to argue otherwise.
With five games remaining in the regular season, Maryland is without a signature win to its name and with a handful of losses it’d rather not have. Head coach Mark Turgeon’s team is 0-8 against teams ranked in the RPI Top 50. It’s best win, statistically? Providence.
That is one of only two wins for Maryland in the RPI Top 100. The other came at home against Florida State. Overall, they’re 2-12 against that group.
“Their RPI is the concerning number,” Dauster told CSNBaltimore.com. “But they have a chance to land a couple of big wins against Syracuse and Virginia, with both of those games coming at home.
“I know the bubble is weak, but with some of the losses Maryland took earlier this year, they may need to win both of those to really have a good chance at a bid.”
It almost seems that a 5-0 stretch to end the regular season plus a win or two in the ACC tournament are necessary to be an at-large in March.
If Maryland were to somehow run the table in the regular season, that would make it 19-12 with only two wins over the RPI Top 50 (hypotheticals over Syracuse and Virginia) but also with no losses to teams outside the RPI Top 100 if all remains the same.
Would that be enough?
The Selection Committee likes teams that are coming into March hot, which Maryland hypothetically would be if it ran the table. But that’s in theory. It’s a lot harder to beat Syracuse and Virginia, plus three other middle-of-the-pack ACC teams.