“You know what, for ESPN and for me personally, there’s not too much Maryland,” Dakich continued. “Hey, I love watching that team. I do. Like, last year’s team was all right. A lot of teams are all right to cover, but hey man, this team is fun, connected. I don’t know if Maryland fans are lucky, but I feel lucky as hell. I’m going to be there Saturday, too. I’m the new Johnny Holliday, baby.”
No. 17 Maryland’s showdown against No. 23 Purdue on Saturday in College Park will be the fifth Maryland game that Dakich has announced during Big Ten play. He’s seen Coach Mark Turgeon’s squad enough to confidently say that the Terps, whose seven-game winning streak includes six wins as the underdog, are better than their ranking.
“This is one of those teams that I don’t care what analytics say,” Dakich said. ” What all of those knuckleheads say, ‘They don’t have a signature win, they blah, blah, blah’ — I think it’s a top 10 team. I think it’s a team that’s going to play well no matter the circumstance, and those three freshmen [Kevin Huerter, Justin Jackson and Anthony Cowan] along with Melo Trimble. … I think the three most savvy guys in the league are at Wisconsin, but I’ll tell you what, the three most clutch guys, or three of the four most clutch guys, are those freshmen. They’re not afraid, man, and then you add Trimble, who may be the most clutch guy, it’s a pretty good group.”
What do the analytics say? According to Ken Pomeroy and Jeff Sagarin’s college basketball ratings, Maryland is a pretty good team, but not one of the 10-best teams in the country. The Terrapins beat up on a soft nonconference schedule and it’s a down year for the Big Ten. Like the Dez Wells-led team that won 28 games during the 2014-15 season, this year’s team also ranks among the “luckiest” teams in the country, according to Pomeroy’s luck rating. The 2014-15 team finished second in luck rating, while this year’s team, which is 9-1 in games decided by six points or fewer, is 18th. That’s the highest among ranked teams.
“They’re going to lose,” said Dakich, who made the case for Turgeon as coach of the year during Tuesday’s broadcast. “This isn’t the ’76 Hoosiers, undefeated, but I think that their game translates against anybody.”