Today is February 17th, and that means there is a little less than three weeks left in the regular season for my beloved Terps. It is for this reason that I feel it's not too early to start talking about bold predictions. I'll first start out by breaking down the rest of the season, then get into my ACC Tourney projections, and finally move to our chances in the NCAA tournament which we appear to be destined for.
AT NC STATE
The teams above are what await us in the following weeks, they are the most crucial games of the season. More wins than losses and you can bet on a pretty good ACC tournament seed. If we go .500 or lower, however, we could all but doom ourselves to a lousy tournament performance. Luckily this team, who has grown into a true contender right before my eyes, seems to be mature enough to handle this tough schedule. At NC State is tonight. I feel the fact that we are much better than the wolfpack should neutralize their home court advantage, and lift us above this potential trap game. Georgia Tech in my eyes will be the tone setter for the remaining games, if we are able to beat them, which we should, we could get a lot of confidence going ahead. I predict a ten point home court win in this one. When Clemson comes in we will have the momentum, also don't discount the fact that Vasquez will be pissed at Clemson for the way they shut him down just last month. 3-0 so far in my eyes, that would have us at 10-3, which is quite respectable even with a down ACC. Unfortunately, I see trouble on the herizon here in the form of a double digit loss to Virginia Tech. Why is this you say? Well, when we get hot sometimes the players get cocky and overlook games, and what better time for that to happen than the game before we play Duke, the hokies are just too good to overlook. From there we get Duke at home which will be no easy task. The players will be fired up though, and a 3 point win is likely the end result. The next game at Virginia should be a blowout, I'd say about 15 points. So 5-1 in the next 6. That would be fantastic and the end result will be 12-4 in the conference, this should be good enough for a second place finish behind 13-3 Duke.
Next up, the ACC tourney. With a number 2 seed in our grasp we should come out of the first round bye with the rest and ability we need to beat up on a lower seeded team. Possibly a Virginia or a Georgia Tech. Then in the semi's if we continue our hot play we should dispatch of yet another lower seeded team and meet Duke in the finals. Neutral court, Duke Vs. Maryland. This will prove if we really can hang in the tournament. I'm thinking a 1 point victory by Duke or maybe a couple point victory after an OT session, they win but we won't make it easy for them. That's a 2nd place regular season finish, and a second place tournament finish. I hope we can win the ACC tournament but if before the season you had heard we could win second place don't lie, you would have taken it.
With the 2nd place ACC finish and an overall 24-9 finish we should get about a 4 or 5 seed in the NCAA tournament. This team has beat up on lower competition all year so in round one I wouldn't count on us losing. Round two could be trickier however. As we would be playing either a 4 or a 5 seed. Against teams close to our talent we are a little better than average playing them. So this should be about a 2-5 point win for us taking us to a sweet 16 birth. A magical run that not many could have expected from us. Against what could potentially be a number 1 seed, however, I don't like my chances. MAYBE if we play Kansas we could win but against Nova, Cuse or Kentucky we would fall to the wayside. All three of those teams, especially the first two mentioned, can play smothering defense and shoot the 3. Those just happen to be our two weaknesses. A bad loss in the sweet 16 will send Maryland home, but even then I will be proud of this team. For even when they were in an early hole they fought their way back and made a decent tournament run. Of course I could be totally wrong and we could suck from here on out. It certainly won't be the first time I've made predictions that were nowhere near coming to fruition. But this time just feels different.
Til next time, this is dapillcaper signing out. Go Terps!