An Ugly Trend

Here’s a trend that has played out in College Park every year over the last several seasons:

– Maryland plays a fairly good non-conference schedule; achieves a respectable won-loss record….and an impressive RPI ranking.

– During the conference schedule, Maryland struggles and slowly drops down through the conference standings and onto the NCAAT bubble.

– Maryland’s post-season destination then comes down to the ACCT. In 2004, UMd came through in a big way winning the entire tournament. However, their performance has not been impressive at all over the last two years.

– The trend of mediocre performance in the conference schedule continued last night with a poor performance in Tallahassee.

For those that like numbers to support conclusions, here is a quick summary of Maryland’s last several seasons:




































I seriously doubt that many of our regular readers are losing any sleep over Gary’s troubles in College Park, but I thought that this was interesting enough to watch during the last month of the regular season. In addition, UMd’s struggles the last two years illustrate two other points that we have discussed before:

The Importance of the ACCT

For teams on the bubble, the conference tournament provides the last chance for teams to improve their resume for an at-large selection for the NCAAT. I am working on a separate entry on “Clearing the Bubble”, but Maryland clearly illustrates the importance for bubble teams to perform during their conference tournament.

In 2003 and 2005, State was clearly a bubble team heading into the ACCT. Unlike UMd, State feasted on cupcakes throughout the OOC schedule….which is supposed to hurt a team’s chances of making the NCAAT. However, an upset win in the ACCT propelled State into the NCAAT, while UMd’s performance in the ACCT landed them in the NIT.

I have mixed feelings about the way that the NCAAT Selection Committee apparently weighs conference tournaments. On one hand, a good performance in a conference tournament shows that the team in question is playing well at the end of the year. It also shows that teams can still control their own destiny by performing well….which maintains focus on the ACCT.

On the other hand, the NCAAT Selection Committee appears to be saying one thing (teams should play harder OOC schedules) while not specifically rewarding bubble teams that do play a challenging schedule. (Note that NCAAT seeding can be shown to reward successful teams that play tougher schedules and thus earn higher RPI rankings.)

The Value of the OOC Schedule

Many people claim that playing a tough OOC schedule “prepares your team” for the ACC schedule and ultimately the NCAAT. I don’t believe that a team’s opponents have much to do with good performances in ACC conference games. Winning in the ACC depends on having a good coach and good players…not who you played in the OOC schedule. Maryland is a perfect example to illustrate my point.

The schedule does not produce good teams….it reveals them. Great teams prove that they deserve that title by beating “good” teams. It is up to the head coach to produce great teams.

There is no better correlation anywhere between good coaching and winning than there is in college basketball. The head coach hires his assistants (only 3) and recruits his players (only 13). If the team isn’t winning (or winning enough), it is a pretty short connection to the head coach….regardless of how many State fans tried to separate the previous coach from losing.

About VaWolf82

Engineer living in Central Va. and senior curmudgeon amongst SFN authors One wife, two kids, one dog, four vehicles on insurance, and four phones on cell plan...looking forward to empty nest status. Graduated 1982

06-07 Basketball General NCS Basketball

17 Responses to An Ugly Trend

  1. Mr O 01/31/2007 at 2:54 PM #

    Is this from Vawolf82?

    Another interesting program to follow right now would be Ga Tech. If not for the fluke type of Final Four run, then would Hewitt’s job be in jeopardy? Hewitt has pretty much gotten a free pass unlike his couterpart Chan Gailey.

    IMO, whoever is coaching GT should have them in the top 4-5 teams every year. Great school, good history, great on campus arena, and one of the better cities on the East Coast to attract top basketball players. Hewitt could almost recruit Atlanta metro area exclusively and have a top ACC team every year. However, he has the luxury of being able to recruit anywhere because of the resources GT offers.

  2. RickJ 01/31/2007 at 2:59 PM #

    I am absolutely convinced that Gary Williams went into semi-retirement about an hour after he cut down the nets in 2002.

    ^Totally agree on Hewitt & Ga Tech. I really thought they would be the second best team in the league this year.

  3. VaWolf82 01/31/2007 at 3:37 PM #

    Is this from Vawolf82?

    Yes, I’m still alive and kicking.

    UMd (2-4 over last six games) and GT (4 game losing streak) are sinking and UVa (4 game win streak) is picking up the pace.

    Of course, BC is another team to watch and see how much they will miss Sean Williams.

  4. SuperStuff 01/31/2007 at 3:39 PM #

    GT is a perplexing team considering the level of talent they seem to be able to recruit. Sometimes one or two players can put you over the top, but those players have to be on a good team to start with.

  5. Rick 01/31/2007 at 3:55 PM #

    “The schedule does not produce good teams….it reveals them.”

    Good article overall but I think I have to disagree here somewhat.

    I am in the middle of Jimmy V’s book and there are many things in it that really strike a cord.
    One thing he says is the tough OOC prepare your team for the NCAA. It gives them the confidence to know they can beat the best. So it reveals and improves.

  6. kool k 01/31/2007 at 3:56 PM #

    I downright loathe Maryland. They are my least favorite school in the conference. Can’t stand Williams. Can’t stand Fat Boy. Still can’t beieve Rivers was 0-4 against them. I never got over the technical they called in the ACC tourney 3 years ago and second half collapse. I still get ticked off when I think of the 20 point loss in 89 when they were the 8 seed and we were the 1 seed. I hate Jerod Mustaf. I hate Bob Wade. I like when Scott Van Pelt does Sportscenter, but that’s about it. I hate Maryland. I was even happy when Dante Calabria hit that buzzer beater on them a few years back and I still celebrate that Thursday night game 4 years ago when Northern Illinois beat them. **** Maryland!

  7. VaWolf82 01/31/2007 at 4:11 PM #

    One thing he says is the tough OOC prepare your team for the NCAA. It gives them the confidence to know they can beat the best. So it reveals and improves.

    So why hasn’t a relatively tough OOC schedule improved UMd?

  8. Rick 01/31/2007 at 4:28 PM #

    “So why hasn’t a relatively tough OOC schedule improved UMd?”
    That is a good question. GW has proven he can coach in a tournament so it is hard to argue coaching.
    But one team does not determine a trend. So I do not think you can say definitively the statement is true or false based on one data point.

  9. Mr O 01/31/2007 at 4:29 PM #

    Vawolf82: Maybe just looking at Maryland isn’t enough evidence to draw that conclusion across all of college basketball.

    I have always argued that playing a tough schedule makes your team better, but I have never seen any statistical evidence that supports that claim.

    In fact, I think most evidence suggest very little correlation between tough schedules and NCAA success. Grantwolf from Packpride used examples from Final Four teams over a period of years IIRC.

  10. Mr O 01/31/2007 at 4:32 PM #

    IMO, Gary simply bombed on his recruiting since the Final Four. Probably some burnout as well, but overall he just doesn’t have the players he had on his national title teams.

    He had at least four NBA players on that roster:

    Not sure if Tah Holden, or Byron Mouton ever made an NBA team.

    Typically speaking, coaches with a lot of NBA players on one team tend to win a lot of games.

  11. packof81 01/31/2007 at 4:34 PM #

    Maryland fans sure cuss alot during home games. It got so bad during a game when they were hosting Duke, Williams asked them to tone it down. Maybe they ought to call that place the Com-cuss center.

  12. burnbarn 01/31/2007 at 4:53 PM #

    I was laughing during the MD game last night.. sombody kept yelling at gary to sit down and shut up. You could easily hear it during the broadcast!

  13. choppack1 01/31/2007 at 6:10 PM #

    I think this also proves something else – in spite of claims to the contrary, the ACC remains the best b’ball conference around year in and year out.

    Those years the ACC has been down, the ACC hasn’t been as down as they say.

    I am truly perplexed by Williams’ lack of progress lately. Of course, when you think about it, his teams before the Final 4 guys always had one dominant player who saved them from being an also-ran. First there was Joe Smith, then there was Steve Francis…then the Final 4 squad settled in. Something happened when those guys left. The leadership torch was not passed – and Gary hasn’t located that one guy who turns his team from middling to very good.

    GaTech is another excellent example. O – you are spot on…Because Hewitt looks really cool and because of that FF run, he gets a pass. However, he certainly hasn’t been able to do what Cremins did for years over at Tech. (Cremins is another one of those guys who always seemed to find an “It” player, like williams, when the supply ran out, he looked very mediocre.)

  14. Gene 01/31/2007 at 6:32 PM #

    On the other hand, the NCAAT Selection Committee appears to be saying one thing (teams should play harder OOC schedules) while not specifically rewarding bubble teams that do play a challenging schedule. (Note that NCAAT seeding can be shown to reward successful teams that play tougher schedules and thus earn higher RPI rankings.)

    The NCAA’s rewards winning. When you play a tough OOC schedule, losing to good teams doesn’t help you, when you’re conference play puts you on the bubble.

    Playing a tough OOC gets rewarded, when you beat some of the top 50 RPI teams on your schedule. If you do not beat those teams, just having played them isn’t going to convince folks you are one of the top 50 schools, who deserve a bid to the NCAA’s.

    On a side note, Maryland lost to George Washington, a couple of years in a row and one of those years NCSU pasted GWU, when we played them in Raleigh. I think those things also factor into the selection committee’s decision making process.

  15. kool k 02/01/2007 at 7:28 AM #

    I can’t stand Len Elmore either. I can’t stand Maryland, but to win ACC titles in both football and basketball, go to a BCS game and win National Titles in Men’s and Women’s basketball, all within a 5-6 year period, that’s pretty impressive.

  16. StateFans 02/04/2007 at 11:30 AM #

    From Joe Lunardi at ESPN:

    • Maryland is 18-24 (.429) in its last 42 ACC games.

    • Nearly half (23 of 50, .460) of the Terps’ wins in that span have come against sub-150 teams.

    • Maryland finished no better than t-6th in the ACC in 2005 or 2006 and is tied for 8th place this season.

    • The Terps are 19-27 (.413) against Top 100 competition since winning the 2004 ACC tournaments.


  1. StateFans Nation » Blog Archive » What’s Left to Do? - 03/06/2007

    […] Maryland Well the Twerps broke an ugly trend from the last several years and are playing for NCAAT seeding instead of an at-large bid. With their SOS, RPI ranking, and strong finish, they clearly have a shot a good seed….maybe as high as #3 with a good showing in the ACCT? […]

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