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Plus the women's tourney gets set, Big Ten divisions get discussed, and James Padgett gets left out.
Denver beats Ohio, will play Maryland on Thursday
Denver topped Ohio 61-57 in their NIT opener, and so the Pioneers will head to College Park for the second-round game on Thursday. I was hoping for Ohio, which is a simple enough team to stop: just contain D.J. Cooper. Denver is decidedly more complex, with one of the the strangest profiles of any team in the county. To wit: they have the second-slowest tempo of any team in the country, the third-highest eFG%, the third-highest forced turnover rate, the second-highest assist rate, and the third-lowest offensive rebounding rate. They're also one of the thinnest and shortest teams in the country, running all of seven deep with only one healthy player on the team taller than 6-6. In basically everything they do, they're either incredibly good at it or incredibly terrible at it.
Plenty of really big strengths. Plenty of really big weaknesses. Problem is, Maryland's struggled this year to take advantage of obvious advantages they have over the opposition. Teams with similar profiles (Boston College, Virginia) have had a bunch of success against the Terps already. They'll need to execute a very particular gameplan to win this, which is something they've done relatively little of during the season.
The game time, by the way, has been set: Thursday at 7:00. Get your tickets now.
On the James Padgett situation
It's a big deal, or at the very least quite a big deal is being made of it. It could've been Padgett's last home game, had Maryland lost, and a rare postseason appearance. And he didn't so much as see the floor.
I'm actually not really bothered by it, on either end; Turgeon's done the same with Shaquille Cleare this year, avoiding a bad matchup and then being hesitant to throw him in late. He asked Padgett if he wanted to enter late, and Padgett, either offended or practical, said to let the young'uns and walk-ons play instead. It's unlikely he'll see much burn against Denver, either; the Pioneers run so small that there's no one for Padge (or Shaq) to guard, so likely only Alex Len and Charles Mitchell will see time in the post. But Turgeon's playing both to win and playing for the future; I don't blame him for not playing Padgett out of pure sentimentality, given he doesn't hugely help either of those causes. Alabama runs small, too, but they're big enough to give him minutes; and if it's Stanford instead, he'll definitely see the floor. Should Maryland get all the way to New York with Padge receiving only a handful of minutes, then something may be up.
Big Ten divisions will likely be East/West, divided by time zone
This has mostly already been discussed, but I haven't linked it so if you haven't seen it yet take a look. The breakdown would be purely geographical, with Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State, Rutgers, and Indiana or Purdue in the East. Lafayette's the westermost of the two, and more remote, and the Boilermakers are probably a slightly superior football program, so for Maryland's sake you'd hope they're the ones who end up in the west. Either way, the East is absurdly loaded.
And for the record, these divisions are only in play for football, it would seem.
WBB NCAA Tournament bracket released: Maryland a four seed in UConn's bracket
Will host Quinnipiac in the first round Saturday, and then the winner of Michigan State and Marist in the second round. It's a little bit lower of a seed than I'd have expected; thought they were worthy of a three with that resumé, so it looks that late loss to UNC hurt.
Both games will be in College Park.
Deadspin: Maryland second in the country per capita in All-Americans
Behind just Indiana. And Virginia is actually fifth. Plenty of local talent, in case you had forgotten.
Yes, Maryland lost out because Boise State gamed RPI
The Broncos played two Division II opponents. Division II opponents do not factor in to RPI. Had Maryland played two Division II opponents instead of their weakest two, they'd have had an average, not wildly below-average strength of schedule. The lesson: play only Division II cupcakes?