Maryland men’s basketball has faced three notable out-of-conference opponents this year. Those opponents’ performance overall could play a significant role in whether the Terps make the NCAA tournament. Here’s a breakdown of how those three teams have played to this point in the season.
Butler (79-65 home win on Nov. 15)
The Bulldogs are Maryland’s best out-of-conference win, and, at this point, the only one that will help the Terps when it comes to tournament seeding at all.
Butler currently sits at 9-3 and owns victories over Ohio State and Utah as the best examples of its quality. Outside College Park, the Bulldogs’ other losses have come against Purdue and Texas, two other strong opponents.
Butler is not quite the same team that made the Sweet 16 last year, but a 14-point triumph over a solid yet unspectacular Big East opponent will help Maryland a bit come March.
The Big East is pretty stacked this year, which means Butler will get two cracks at ranked teams like Villanova, Xavier, Creighton and Seton Hall. If the Bulldogs can get some wins over the top of their conference, that will no doubt be helpful for the Terps.
St. Bonaventure (63-61 neutral-site loss on Nov. 24)
St. Bonaventure is a member of the Atlantic 10, which is not in the Power Five. However, it’s also not in the same boat as the Patriot League, the Northeast Conference or other mid-majors of that ilk. The Atlantic 10 normally produces about three tournament teams each season, so it’s a pretty respectable conference.
With this established, losing to St. Bonaventure on a neutral court wouldn’t really ding Maryland’s tournament chances. The Bonnies currently sit at 9-2, with their defeats coming against Niagara and unbeaten TCU. In addition to beating Maryland, they own a very solid win over Vermont, a team expected to win the America East.
On Friday, St. Bonaventure takes on Syracuse at the Carrier Dome. If the Bonnies can pull off the upset, it would go a long way toward proving how legit they are as a team.
St. Bonaventure is also expected to come in second in the Atlantic 10, and if it finishes ahead of Rhode Island for the best team in the conference, it would be more good news for Maryland.
So in summary, St. Bonaventure on a neutral court is not a bad loss for Maryland. It’s a game the Terps should’ve won, but it’s not a defeat that ruins a tournament resume. They didn’t lose at home to Wofford.
Syracuse (72-70 road loss on Nov. 27)
The Carrier Dome is regarded as a pretty tough venue to play in, so on reputation alone, the Terps falling in Syracuse is not the kind of thing that damages their resume.
The Orange have wins over Connecticut and Georgetown, but neither of those teams has been especially great this season, with the Huskies stumbling to a 7-4 record and the Hoyas going 9-1 against a cakewalk of a schedule (and nearly suffering an upset against Richmond along the way). Right now, we just know Syracuse isn’t as good as Kansas, which dealt the Orange their only loss on a neutral court in Miami.
Syracuse plays in the ACC, so there’s no shortage of chances for the Orange to get quality wins over the Dukes and North Carolinas of the world down the stretch.
As of right now, a defeat in the Carrier Dome will not be the kind of thing that keeps Maryland out of the NCAA tournament. And unless Syracuse really struggles in conference play, it will most likely stay that way.