Palm Breaks Down Terps' Tourney Portfolio

In our efforts to keep you updated on everything, Terp Sports Report contacted noted national college basketball expert Jerry Palm of after Maryland's sensational win tonight over North Carolina. Here's what Palm had to say about the Terps' updated RPI, their ever-growing NCAA Tournament résumé and their likely seeding in the tourney.

"I already had them as a No. 4 seed before this game," said Palm, who has been dissecting and analyzing NCAA basketball and football statistics for 14 years, specializing in post-season determinants RPI (Ratings Percentage Index) in basketball and the B.C.S. in football.

"Here's the thing, Maryland doesn't have any bad losses, except for Miami," he continued. "That probably is about as how as they'll go without winning the ACC Tournament … In order to get higher than that, you really need to have that wow factor, and they don't have that. Though, tonight gave them a little bit of that."

"Realistically, what they are is a top 25 seed – a four, five or six – though."

Palm said the only team in the country that is inarguably hotter than Maryland is Georgetown, while Michigan State – winner of four in a row – and Virginia are close. Because Maryland's early season with over the Spartans in New York is its strongest non-conference victory – and best non-home victory -- Michigan State can only help Maryland by staying hot.

The more tourney teams you have wins over, obviously, the better your seeding is. But contrary to popular opinion, Michigan State is not a tourney lock yet; not with trips to Michigan and Wisconsin and the Big 10 tourney remaining.

"They could go 0 and 3," Palm said.

As for the Terps, the biggest test will be their ability to put the emotion of the UNC win behind them in time for a trip to Duke on Wednesday night. In order to maintain their momentum and their favorable impression on the tourney committee, this game will go a long way because of the timing, the opponent and the fact that it's on the road.

"Now the question is whether they'll be able to keep it up, going into Duke after this. They could go there and lose [in a blowout] and it would hurt them," Palm said. "The ability to win away from home is very important [in the committee's eyes] but that's something that only the top" handful of teams have.
"That's more of an issue for the bottom of the bracket teams."
Palm also took a moment to calculate the Terps' RPI after the North Carolina game, and said it jumped from No. 17 to No. 15. It's virtually impossible to make a big leap at this point, because the sample size of games is so large.

As long as Maryland continues to play well, he said, they are in very strong position for a No. 4 seed.

And that's something even the most diehard Maryland fans would have had trouble envisioning a month ago.

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