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Maryland’s Resume Is Better Than You Think

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Are the Terps a legitimate top-tier Big Ten team?

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NCAA Basketball: Maryland at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Perhaps nothing gets more discussion in college sports than a team’s schedule. Even months before the season begins, fans and media members spend their time tearing apart the schedule to dissect where things stand. And for the first weeks and months of the season, we get to hear one quote over and over again.

“Well, they ain’t played nobody.”

This quote is so synonymous with college sports that SBNation even has a college football podcast with that as its title. Even if a team designs a difficult schedule, fans somehow find a way to claim it’s the softest schedule out there.

It really is quite remarkable.

And to no surprise, this discussion has found its way to this year’s Big Ten. This time, the Maryland Terrapins have become the victim. Despite an impressive 19-2 overall record and a 7-1 performance so far in league play, the narrative has developed that Maryland has built this record by playing nobody.

But this couldn’t be further from the truth.

In fact, Maryland might have the best resume in the Big Ten so far.

Maybe that sounds surprising, but it’s true.

Let’s begin by taking a look at the basics. To start, Maryland’s has more wins (19) than anyone else in the conference. In fact, only six other teams in the nation can top Maryland’s win total so far. This will likely change in the coming weeks, but that’s a significant fact. After all, it’s not like we’re in November. Every team has played plenty of games and Maryland has just won far more of them than most other teams.

Maryland also holds up well in some of the traditional statistical measures. The RPI puts the Terps at No. 18 nationally, which leads the Big Ten. Admittedly, the margin is tight (Wisconsin sits at No. 21), but we know this is an important statistic for seeding purposes. And again, more than half the season is already in the books. As such, leading the league in RPI at this point is noteworthy.

The advanced stats also offer an interesting comparison:

1/31 - Big Ten Resume Comparison

Teams Top 100 KenPom Wins Top 50 KenPom Wins Top 25 KenPom Wins Best KenPom Win Best KenPom Home Win Best KenPom Neutral Win Best KenPom Road Win
Teams Top 100 KenPom Wins Top 50 KenPom Wins Top 25 KenPom Wins Best KenPom Win Best KenPom Home Win Best KenPom Neutral Win Best KenPom Road Win
Maryland 9 5 1 No. 22 No. 22 No. 29 No. 35
Northwestern 9 3 0 No. 34 No. 34 No. 36 No. 63
Purdue 8 2 1 No. 11 No. 11 No. 27 No. 51
Wisconsin 10 5 0 No. 32 No. 35 No. 38 No. 32

There’s a lot to analyze in those numbers, but there are a few key things to take away. First, when comparing quality wins, none of those four teams have a vastly superior resume to the others. Things are relatively close.

Additionally, the other major takeaway for our purposes is that Maryland ranks second or better among these teams in all seven categories. There are certainly flaws in this comparison, but simply put, any narrative about Maryland building its record on weak competition should apply as much or even more to the rest of these teams.

Maryland may have won many of its games this season by slim margins, but we’re now past the point of nitpicking wins. Maryland has played more than two-thirds of its regular season schedule and still only has two losses. The Terps have won at home, the team has won on the road, and its won on neutral courts.

Close or not, Maryland just wins.

There’s no arguing that some of Maryland’s toughest games still remain (Maryland gets two challenging games this week), but it’s time to start viewing the Terps as a top-tier team in the Big Ten this season. Perhaps things trend down in the coming months, but based upon things so far, Maryland deserves more respect.

After all, the Terps have earned it. Not by compiling stats, but by winning.