Over at ESPN.com, Dana O' Neill breaks down the conference races and adds a few goodies as well (coaches of the year, players of the year, etc).
In the Big Ten, Maryland is seen as the #2 team and the Terps are a solid group. Saturday's tangle with Wisconsin should be interesting to say the least.
Maryland's making a splash - so far anyway - in its new league, but take a look at the league currently. It's not much to brag about.
Purdue is really not looking good to the point where fans are booing the Boilermakers. Indiana has had issues not least of all on defense. Fans there haven't been happy either. Iowa is passable. Ohio State is erratic. Northwestern is still Northwestern. Rutgers is still Rutgers.
Michigan and Michigan State are not up to normal standards. Nebraska isn't sneaking up on anyone this season. Penn State, Minnesota and Illinois are at the bottom.
Someone said the other day, and we found this quite striking, that any of the ACC's top five teams would be no worse than second in any other conference in the country.
Reverse that for a moment and imagine Maryland was in the ACC this year. Could the Terps beat Notre Dame? Duke? The Virginia question has already been answered. Louisville? Miami would pose a challenge as well and the Wake Forest team we saw Sunday night could compete with just about anyone. Maryland would be competitive, but the Terps wouldn't be seen as the #2 team by default.
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Obviously things can change, and at times quickly. Maryland lost Dez Wells to an injury but got him back. Indiana had a bizarre incident with two players where one ran over the other with a car. FSU suspended its best player for the season (he's since gotten an agent and won't be back).
Looking at the standings now, though, the Big Ten looks very weak and the ACC, 1 through 6, with the possible exception of NC State, is very strong and 7-10 is not bad. And Wake Forest, BC and Virginia Tech have all shown signs of promise under new coaches.
ESPN's bracketology has Ohio State in (8 seed), Wisconsin (1), Michigan State (11) and Maryland (3).
The ACC has Duke (1), Virginia (1), Louisville (2), UNC (4), Notre Dame (5) and Syracuse (11).
By the way, two interesting notes from Joe Lunardi's bracketology. He has Michigan State and Syracuse in a play-in at 11. And in a move bound to irritate Duke fans, but we're quite sure is inevitable, he has Maryland in Duke's bracket.
We have no doubt the NCAA will put Duke and Maryland in the same bracket. The good news is that, given the Big Ten's woes, Maryland should do well, barring traditional chokes and collapses, and should be on the other side of the bracket as a #2 or #3. So the odds of actually meeting go down a good bit.
Not that Duke should be scared of anyone. Playing Maryland though, as ACC fans well know, comes with an assortment of off the court headaches that no one wants to deal with.