The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

After overrating Maryland all season, AP voter drops Terps from his top 25

(Photo by Toni L. Sandys/ The Washington Post)
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After an embarrassing loss on Thursday at Minnesota, which hadn’t won since Dec. 16, Maryland ended a two-game slide with an 86-82 win over Michigan on Sunday at Xfinity Center.

Still, Maryland tumbled from No. 6 to No. 10 in the latest Associated Press top 25 poll and the Terps dropped completely off one voter’s ballot. Lansing State Journal columnist Graham Couch decided there were 25 other teams more deserving than Maryland, including Wisconsin, which ended the Terps’ 27-game home winning streak on Feb. 14.

“I never sit there and think, ‘I’m going to make a point of this team this week,'” Couch said Monday of his voting methodology.

When Couch fills out his ballot each week, he looks at his own ballot from the previous week, not the actual top 25. He then creates a series of lists based on that week’s results of teams that should probably move up, teams that should probably move down and teams that should probably move out. Depending on how much he’s seen of a team, he’ll use RPI or KenPom research to inform his rankings. Recent performance matters. While Maryland wasn’t on Couch’s original ‘moving out’ list, the Terps, who were No. 12 on his ballot last week, ultimately didn’t make the cut.

That didn’t sit well with some Maryland fans, despite the fact that college basketball polls are mostly meaningless. Couch, who in January wrote a column explaining why he was the only voter to vote Oklahoma No. 1 after the Sooners’s triple-overtime loss at Kansas, doesn’t shy away from the criticism, including from those who suggest he’s a Michigan State homer.

“That’s just who fans are,” Couch said. “It’s amazing how personal they take it.”

On Sunday, Couch engaged in a friendly back-and-forth with ESPN anchor and Maryland fan Scott Van Pelt.

For Mark Turgeon, a stomach-calming victory

Like many pundits, Couch was extremely high on Maryland in November. He voted the Terps No. 1 in the preseason poll and ranked them higher than their actual ranking in eight of the next 11 weeks. After Maryland’s loss to Wisconsin, Couch dropped the Terps from No. 3 to No. 12 in last week’s poll, the lowest ranking of Maryland by any voter.

“I’ve always thought they’re maybe the most athletically gifted team in the Big Ten, but they just don’t seem to fit each other,” said Couch, who has watched quite a bit of Maryland this season. “… You just kind of gave them a pass early on. I watched the Northwestern game [a 62-56 Maryland overtime win] at home and thought, ‘this team is not playing well.’ Sometimes you have teams that for whatever reason don’t really work. I think I maybe overrated them a little bit until they proved me wrong.”

Maryland could still figure things out — and jump back into Couch’s top 25 — but they haven’t looked like a top 10 team for a while now.

“I could easily see them get bumped in a 4-13 matchup right away, but I’ve also seen teams get it together in March,” Couch said. “They have a whole lot of talent, but usually in late February when you’re struggling like this, it’s not an ideal sign.”