I remember talking to people about NCAA prospects for the Terps a month ago, saying that in their last seven games, if they only went 4-3, they could slide into the tournament. Now, let's look at the final seven game stretch:
- Loss to Duke, 77-65
- Win over Florida State, 82-72
- Loss to VaTech, 69-65
- Loss to Miami, 78-63
- Win over Wake Forest, 74-70
- Loss to Clemson, 73-70
- Loss to Virginia, 91-76
It hasn't even been a relatively challenging schedule, but it was completely bungled, topped with the drubbing at the hands of Virginia. Yes, I realize it was on the road and on Senior Day, but really? A loss to a team fighting for 10th place in the ACC?
I think it's safe to say that Maryland will not be invited to the NCAA tournament, barring a trip to the ACC finals. However, Maryland has proven (besides their great upset of then-No. 1 UNC) that they can't beat ranked teams. Realistically, I have to doubt their ability to:
A) Beat a better team
B) Win under pressure of not making the postseason (see above listing of final games)
We'll talk about the ACC tournament later the week, but at this point, I think we can almost guarantee that we all will be looking for NIT tickets very soon - if you want to go that is.
I'm really not that crazy about the officiating (21 UMD fouls v. 9 UVA fouls). The difference in those numbers is somewhat alarming, and I thought that some of the called fouls were pretty ludicrous, but I don't want to make excuses for a team that's gotten more than enough breaks in their last few games to end up better than 8-8 in the conference.
Writing this stuff is tiring, but it is still to early to give up. As long as Maryland has a chance to redeem themselves, I think the fans should give them one. And I think they will. It's just all we can do. I mean, it's been so hard trying to support this team this season - for me, for everyone. Inconsistency has plagued this team for a while now, but that's part of being a fan.
On the wall of my dorm room, I have the front page of The Baltimore Sun from Maryland's championship victory, with Lonny Baxter, Juan Dixon and Tahj Holden all celebrating.
Though we go through long stretches of doubt, discontent and painful losses, the beauty of fanhood is to be there when it pays off. When we have success, that's when the fans will have their moment, a moment that they can hold onto for a long, long time.
So that said, please be mindful that rooting for a team isn't about any one season, it's about a history and a tradition, and a hope that one day, an investment will be paid off.
Just not this season.