By Ben Harris
With the Terps sitting on the bubble of both the conference and NCAA tournaments, the final month of the season will undoubtedly dictate their postseason fate. With just 11 games left, Maryland holds a 24-19 overall record.
Spark that Ignited the Flame:
On April 6, the Terps had a chance to push their record to an even .500 for the tenth time in 2016 with a win over James Madison. That night, just shy of one month ago, Maryland put their losing record to rest for good.
Thirty-three games into the season, the Terps still had not ventured more than one game over .500. But, that midweek win over James Madison sparked a series sweep of Ohio State and has propelled Maryland to a 10-4 record in their last 14 games, including series wins over Purdue and Penn State.
Where the Terps Stand:
At 9-6 in conference, Maryland sits well within striking distance in sixth place. (The top eight teams qualify for the Big Ten Tournament beginning on May 25.) They are just 2.5 games out of first place and one game out of third. With winnable series against eleventh ranked Rutgers (22-22, 6-9 Big Ten) and ninth ranked Illinois (21-19, 7-8 Big Ten) on tap, the Terps can pave a clear path toward the top of the conference rankings.
Last weekend’s series win over Penn State boosted the Terps’ positioning down the homestretch. Every contending team except Penn State has three remaining series (nine games) against Big Ten opponents. If Maryland underperforms against Rutgers and Illinois, a lot will ride on their season finale with Michigan State (30-11, 3rd in Big Ten) that looms large in the distance.
As detailed in last week’s series preview, a series win over Penn State could have provided an enormous boost to Maryland’s postseason hopes, especially given their remaining schedule. The Terps pulled out a 2-1 series win and jumped up 12 spots in RPI from 59-47, according to WarrenNolan.com
Michigan State, Illinois and Rutgers each hold an RPI between 52-91, which, surprisingly, is the level of play Maryland has performed best against. Against opponents with an RPI of 51-100, the Terps are 9-4. They are an even .500 against teams with an RPI between 1-50 (5-5) and over 101 (10-10).
Maryland’s most notable resume-boosting wins have come in a 2-1 series win at Cal State Fullerton (41), an 8-1 win over Southeastern Louisiana (55) and a 10-9 win against Tennessee (77).