It was one of the first questions I saw on Twitter following the game: does Maryland need to fear a letdown game after the huge emotional win that was Duke? You see it a lot: teams on an emotional high can't come back down to earth by the next game and lose a game they shouldn't have. My initial thought on the subject: "of course not."
After all, when you look down Maryland's schedule there have been plenty of opportunities for an "emotional letdown" that's just never happened. Clutch Cliff's buzzer beater? No letdown after that one. The Clemson comeback? No letdown. The 2OT thriller? Clearly no issues there. And even if they didn't reach the magnitude of the Duke game, they were certainly high enough to allow a fall, yet none came.
Of course, that's simply looking back at the recent past; they could consider themselves "out of the woods" of an extremely rough stretch, with only lowly UVA to handle and win out, which could be problematic. Or this could be the straw that broke the camel's back. Who knows? I'm not a coach, nor Gary Williams, so I won't speculate as to what the mental state of this team is.
I will, however, mention that Virginia has been historically a tough out for Maryland, and that this team would be special indeed if they could avoid any sort of emotional or mental drawback after last night's game. Virginia is playing for nothing but pride, and beating Maryland is probably objective #1 in Charlottesville right now. That's never an easy win, especially with Maryland having a target on their backs. This time, there's some pressure.
Like I said, though, this team hasn't let it phase them before, and the senior leadership should keep things in check. If this team was led by Pe'Shon Howard and Terrell Stoglin - and this is by no means a shot at them, because this only comes with experience - I might have some concerns. But with the rocks that are Greivis Vasquez, Eric Hayes, and Landon Milbourne, one would think that the Terps could stay grounded for a few more days.
But what good are my thoughts when there are cold hard numbers available? I decided to do a little bit of research, finding every Maryland win over a top 10 team, and seeing how they responded the next game out. I excluded the Duke ACC championship game because the layoff between that game and the first round NCAA opponent was sizable; I also disregarded the snow game of Wake Forest because Maryland was already ranked highly (I believe it was 13 vs. 8). I'm not really looking to prove anything here; it was just an exercise in curiosity.
Anyway, the results are surprisingly encouraging; Maryland is 5-6 overall, but a nice little 3-2 on the road. They're also 2-2 at home - the remaining 2 losses came at neutral sites. It's not as though Maryland played a bunch of easy road games in the OOC schedule, either - all of their road wins came in the conference. So, yes, that's a little statistical reassurance.
On the negative side, they're 0-4 in the past three seasons in these types of games - most of the wins came in the earlier years. There could be a slight trend appearing. Hopefully it's just a bad coincidence.
The stats are perfect or even all that useful, but I like stats. And if they can help to reassure a fan or two, then I'll post them.
Really, though, it's nothing we didn't know - teams can struggle after beating big time opponents. Historically, Gary Williams' teams haven't had issues; recently, they have. Recently, though, it's also worth noting that Gary Williams' teams have lacked senior leadership, something this team has in bulk.
In previous years, you could almost sense it coming; this year, for some reason, I feel oddly secure. If I'm picking one key to the Maryland-UVA game, it's this - can Maryland show up? Gut feeling says yes, but the first few minutes will be interesting to watch.