NIT Bracketology: So, Maryland is on the NIT Bubble

Feb, 29, 2012; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; Maryland Terrapins head coach Mark Turgeon is called for a technical foul in the second half. The Tar Heels defeated the Terrapins 88-64 at the Dean E. Smith Center. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-US PRESSWIRE

I remember everyone hated the discussion last year about whether or not Maryland was on the NIT bubble, or whether such a thing even existed. Of course, then Maryland missed the NIT. So it might actually have some merit.

I know, it's a sad hollow life when you're sitting around wondering if your team can sneak into the back of the NIT. But remember, keep perspective: Maryland missed the NIT last year and arguably got worse from a personnel standpoint, so making the NIT this year would be progress of a sort. More importantly, though, this team needs more games against decent competition. They're still very young, and every minute of high-level competition should make them better. Running into NCAAT-bound brick walls like Virginia and North Carolina are probably helping, too, but we can't see that progress. Getting more games against teams like N.C. State, Oregon, Dayton, and Illinois will not only make the Terrapins a better team, it'll be easier for us to assess where they stand heading into next year.

So we turn to what must be one of life's most depressing trades: NIT bracketology. Only three sites are doing it (yet), though to be honest I'm surprised we could find even those three (one of them, admittedly, is a mindless robotic algorithm). The first, the Bracket Project (of Bracket Matrix fame), doesn't have Maryland in the field. The second, NITology, has the Terrapins sneaking in as an 8 seed, matching up with Oregon in the first round for an epic Nike-Under Armour battle royale. And lastly, that mindless robotic algorithm is StatSheet, which projects Maryland as an NIT 5 seed and comfortably in. All three of the projections were pre-UNC, but given that the game ended up right at the line I don't think it would influence it one way or the other.

The consensus: Maryland is very bubbly.

Anyway, two caveats here. The first: the NIT gives any team who won its regular season conference championship but didn't get into the NCAA Tournament (i.e., mid-/low-majors who lost the auto-bid in the conference tournament) an auto-bid, so no one knows exactly how many at-larges will be available. If there are a fair number of upsets, teams will get knocked off the bubble. Root for the favorites, scrappy underdogs be damned.

The second: still a long way to go, obviously. Maryland clearly doesn't have any hope at making the NCAA Tournament unless they beat Virginia and then rattle off at least three wins in the ACC Tournament (or, uh, win four in the ACC Tournament) but the season is far from over. As with anything else, this will shift a lot over the next few weeks. A win over UVA and/or a victory or two in the ACC Tournament would likely knock them into the NIT; losing out would sink their hopes at even that.

Rest assured, though, under no circumstances will I stoop to CBI-ology. (C-biology?) You have my word.

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