"We should be ranked," he said. "I don't think that's too much of an argument. But opinions are formed. It's tough to break opinions in the way -- in other words, you'll see sliding, you know, there's like two groups. Like the top 12, they can have five or six losses sometimes and still stay in the top 12, and then in that last five there could be some changes in that with teams coming in and out, so hopefully we'll get in there if we win enough games."
Is he right? Well, rankings are a pretty subjective things, and the objective ones - like KenPom - fail to take certain things into account. So it's tough to really judge whether or not a team deserves to be in - it varies based on what a person believes is important. But let's try.
When you look at the rankings, there are a few teams teams that appear to be less deserving of Maryland at first glance. The easiest example to look at is Northern Iowa. They're the classic ranked mid-major - great record, poor resume. Their best win would be...Siena? Boston College? Old Dominion? Other than that, Wichita State, Illinois State, Iowa State, and Missouri State are their only top 100 KenPom wins. Hardly any "names" on that list.
Usually those teams rip through their conference schedule, though, and then get ranked that way, so it's no great surprise. But Northern Iowa's conference record is 14-2; Maryland's is 9-3. And get this: they lost just three games ago, meaning their winning streak is a rather short 2 games long. Quick recovery in the polls, I guess.
Maryland has a longer winning streak, a nearly comparable conference record in a far better conference, and three top 50 wins (N. Iowa has 0). Gary might have a point here.
And there are a few other schools that are puzzlers, like Temple (who has cupcakes for a conference schedule and has lost to 100+ Charlotte) and Texas A&M (who has little in the way of a "resume win" and doesn't look very impressive at first glance). And one starts to wonder how Maryland isn't ranked.
But Maryland also needs to look at its own reality, in which they have just three top 50 wins and no wins against any team currently ranked. Does that mean they don't deserve to be ranked? Not necessarily; their resume certainly stacks up nicely in comparison to Northern Iowa. But is their ACC record alone enough to get them ranked? Are they better than a Temple team that has three top 50 wins of their own, including a win over Villanova? Or what about that average looking TAMU team that actually has four top 50 wins, including one over a team that's actually ranked right now?
I know who'd I'd pick in both matchups, but an argument can be made either way. And you can't just look at it statistically, which is one reason I didn't (that and I'm lazy, of course). It means different things to different votes, so you have to take a wide approach to them.
That's the tricky thing about rankings. Sure, certain aspects of Maryland look great, but some can look poor. I know I'd have them ranked (probably around 20), but I'm a little biased. Personally, I don't consider it any sort of great insult that they aren't included in the top 25 - we know how good they are, and that's all that matters.
But I am looking forward to someone explaining the Northern Iowa ranking to me.