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Where Maryland women’s basketball fits into the 2018 NCAA Tournament

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The Terps had a lot to play for this weekend, and whether they did enough or not is still up in the air.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament-Ohio State vs Maryland Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

With the Power 5 conference tournaments wrapping up Sunday night and the AAC and Big East finishing Tuesday, the women’s basketball selection committee can breathe a little easier than its male counterparts.

A lot of the potential movers and shakers played this weekend, so a lot of the seeding is probably already set. Maryland will be in that bracket somewhere, and everyone outside of the committee will find out exactly where on March 12.

The Terps came into the Big Ten tournament on the outside looking in for a chance to host the first and second round, and according to ESPN’s Charlie Creme, not much has changed. He actually bumped Maryland down, moving NC State and Texas A&M up in his rankings after both teams had wins over RPI top-25 teams in their conference tournaments.

The Terps went farther than the Wolfpack and Aggies did in their respective conference tournaments, but didn’t face an RPI top-50 opponent until taking on Ohio State in the championship. Maryland lost to the Buckeyes, 79-69, and left Indianapolis without another top-50 win. The Terps likely would’ve been a top-16 seed with a win Sunday night, but after falling short, Creme doesn’t think so. He has Maryland headed to Athens, Georgia, to take on Princeton in the first round.

If this was the bracket, a return to the Sweet 16 would be well-earned. Although Princeton is in the middle of the pack of the mid-majors currently in the field, the Tigers are no walk in the park. 6’4 sophomore guard/forward Bella Alarie, daughter of former Duke star Mark Alarie, is a potential matchup nightmare who played on the USA U-19 team last summer. If Maryland wins, it’ll likely face Georgia, who is strong inside and defensively and only lost to Texas, Mississippi State and South Carolina in Athens this season. A successful weekend would probably mean a matchup with Notre Dame, who has beaten every opponent on its schedule not named UConn or Louisville.

While Creme said on ESPN2 Sunday night that Maryland has no chance of playing at Xfinity Center to start the tournament, I’m not sure he’s right.

If you compare resumes, it looks like four teams are fighting for the last two seeds: Maryland, NC State, Duke and Georgia. The most prevalent metrics appear to be RPI, strength of schedule, and wins against the RPI top-25 and top-50. I ranked each team in those categories below, with the tiebreaker in RPI wins being more games against such teams.

RPI: Maryland, NC State, Duke, Georgia

SOS: NC State, Duke, Maryland, Georgia

Top-25 wins: Georgia, Duke, NC State, Maryland

Top-50 wins: Maryland, Georgia, Duke, NC State

When I averaged these rankings, the Terps came out on top followed by NC State and Duke tied for second, and Georgia at the bottom. If the committee used this format, then Maryland will be happy come Selection Monday.

But the committee has not stuck to this format. It appears to be sticking with current trends and possible statement wins. It’s why teams like Ohio State and Tennessee, who played challenging schedules and did relatively well against them, have been ranked lower than teams with weaker resumes that appear to do better on the eye test.

Now while I haven’t seen Duke, NC State or Georgia play, they don’t appear much different than Maryland. All three finished in the top third of their conference, and except for the Lady Bulldogs, each picked up at least one win against the upper echelon of their respective conference: the Wolfpack and NC State both beat Florida State, and Maryland crushed Ohio State in their first meeting.

So what’s preventing Maryland from hosting? It’s certainly not its non-conference schedule, which is not great but not weak enough to be costly. It’s certainly not quality wins. It could come down to losses.

Neither NC State nor Georgia has a loss outside the top 50. Duke lost to sub-.500 North Carolina, but that came in Chapel Hill, and usually the committee is more forgiving of road slip-ups. Both of Maryland’s losses outside the top 50 came at home, and that may be what sinks its chance of playing at the Xfinity Center again.

Even if the Terps don’t host, this has still been a good “rebuilding” year for the program. Maryland went 25-7 after losing two All-Americans and a dynamic freshman from the year before, and lost Blair Watson for the season in January. Now, it’s time to wait six days to see if that’s enough to get one last ovation in its home arena.