Talkin' Terps: What should matter most to the Selection Committee?

By Washington Post editors
Monday, January 31, 2011; 1:32 PM

In Sunday's dead-tree editions, Liz Clarke quoted Gary Williams extensively on what the Maryland coach viewed as the ACC's public relations problem this season. Williams suggested that much of the national discussion around the strengths and weaknesses of various conferences are influenced by claims, often empty, made by coaches and league officials to the media.

"Some leagues do a better job of accentuating the positives and aren't afraid to throw stuff out there," Williams said Saturday. "The ACC has won five of the last 10 national championships, so don't tell me that we're a weak league. I believe [ACC teams won the NCAA championship] the last two years, the last time I checked. I believe [Maryland] beat the [last two] national champions, the last time I checked. But everybody's afraid to say that around here, for some reason."

Williams' case took a little bit of a hit Sunday, when the ACC's top team, Duke, went on the road and got hammered by St. John's, the 11th-place team in the Big East.

What it all boils down to, of course, is the selection of the 68-team NCAA tournament field. Everyone has a different standard, and everyone has a different opinion of what meets that standard.

Over at the 68, Eric Prisbell gives significant weight to wins against teams ranked among the top 50 in the RPI, for which there are limited opportunities in the ACC. Williams suggests that playing in a rugged league, which he asserts the ACC is, should carry influence with the selection committee.

Everyone agrees that a win over Duke at Comcast Center on Wednesday night would be a huge lift to the Terrapins' hopes. But let's say Maryland loses to Duke, North Carolina and Boston College (the other top-50 teams on the schedule), but beats everyone else.

That would leave the Terps at 21-10 and 10-6 in the ACC, one of the top conferences in the country (at least traditionally). Should that be enough to get them in? More importantly, would it be enough?

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