Was Maryland's Loss at Minnesota the Worst of This College Hoops Season?
The Maryland Terrapins entered play on Thursday 22-4, ranked sixth in the country, and looking like a strong candidate for a top-two seed in the NCAA Tournament.
On Thursday night, Maryland lost to a 6-19 Minnesota team that was, to that point, winless in Big Ten play.
That is the definition of a 1 seed deal-breaker. But was it the worst loss of this college hoops season?
One of the oft-quoted resume components around this time of year is "bad losses," usually defined as losses against teams outside the top 100 of RPI -- or thereabouts. After checking out the schedules of each NCAA Tournament contender from conferences projected to get multiple bids (the BCS Power 5, as well as the Big East, Atlantic 10, and AAC), here are what the numbers would say are the resume blemishes, in descending order, that could have the biggest impact come Selection Sunday.
UCLA loses at Washington State, 85-78, January 3
Washington State's only Pac 12 win so far this season came over UCLA in each team's second conference game of the year. Wazzu is 160th in our power rankings and 188th in RPI. UCLA is on the outside looking in at the NCAA Tournament field right now, in part because they're just 5-8 inside the Pac 12.
Temple loses at East Carolina, 64-61, January 27
Temple is another team squarely on the NCAA Tournament bubble, and this conference loss in January isn't helping their case. East Carolina is 201st in RPI and 217th in KenPom's power rankings, with just two wins inside the American Athletic Conference. East Carolina's 229th-ranked defense, per KenPom's Defensive Efficiency metrics, was able to generate 14 Temple turnovers.
South Carolina loses at Missouri, 72-67, February 16
The Gamecocks had to be happy to see Maryland fall Thursday night, as they could no longer claim the worst loss of this week. Still, for a team with strength of schedule and quality wins concerns, this was a bad loss to take. Missouri started the SEC schedule 1-10. Their win over South Carolina is the only one of Missouri's 10 wins that has come over an opponent inside the top 100 of RPI.
Miami (FL) loses at home to Northeastern, 78-77, November 27
Northeastern's Quincy Ford beat the buzzer to hand Miami, ranked 15th in the AP poll at the time, one of only two home losses appearing on this list. Miami fell despite shooting 54 percent from the field, in part because Northeastern attempted 13 more free throws than the Hurricanes. Northeastern is 151st in ESPN's BPI rankings and recently lost six straight games inside Colonial conference play.
George Washington loses at Saint Louis, 65-62, January 6
GW is among The Bracket Project's "next four teams out," so this last-minute conference loss, in which they turned the ball over 18 times, still has to sting. Saint Louis is 231st in our power rankings and 198th in RPI, with nine losses to teams outside the top 100.
Creighton loses at Loyola Chicago, 68-65, December 5
Like George Washington, Creighton is on the wrong side of the bubble. This early December loss came at the hands of a Loyola Chicago team ranked 182nd in our power rankings and 219th in KenPom's rankings. Loyola Chicago also sports 10 losses outside the top 100, and this was their only top-100 win of the season.
Dayton loses at La Salle, 61-57, January 9
Dayton is having an excellent season. Even after Wednesday's loss at Saint Joseph's, the Flyers are 21-4 and a 4 seed in our current bracketology. This loss will weigh on their seeding potential, however, as La Salle is 231st in RPI, 265th in BPI, 266th in our power rankings, and 279th in KenPom's rankings. Dayton shot under 31 percent from the field in a game where La Salle worked the clock to their advantage. Afterward, La Salle lost nine straight games in A-10 play before knocking off, and possibly ruining the tournament hopes of, St. Bonaventure on Wednesday.
Syracuse loses at St. John's, 84-72, December 9
The absence of Jim Boeheim, who was in the midst of serving a nine-game suspension, doesn't begin to explain how the Orange lost by double digits to a St. John's team that is the definition of "rebuilding." St. John's is ranked 319th in Offensive Efficiency, according to KenPom, but still managed 84 points against a Syracuse team usually known for their stingy zone defense. The Johnnies overcame 15 turnovers by knocking down 12 three-pointers. St. John's is 211th in RPI and 216th in our power rankings. Their win over DePaul on Wednesday was their first since, you guessed it, December 9 versus Syracuse.
Wisconsin loses at home to Western Illinois, 69-67, November 13
While it's unfair to judge any team based on how they look in their first game of the season, this Badgers' loss on their home court, the first game they played since appearing in last year's National Championship game, was a legitimate shocker. Western Illinois, the 255th team in RPI, knocked down two free throws in the final seconds to pick up the only top-100 win they have earned to date. Wisconsin still has some work left to do to secure an NCAA Tournament bid, while it hopes to leave this season-opening stunner well in the past.
Maryland loses at Minnesota, 68-63, February 18
Call it recency bias, but with what was at stake for Maryland, and despite the absence of suspended freshman Diamond Stone, this gets the edge as the loss that should be most cited during the next few weeks of seeding deliberation. Minnesota is 165th in our power rankings and 240th in RPI but held Maryland to under 38 percent shooting and forced 15 turnovers Thursday night. No other top-10 team has a loss that rivals this one in terms of "badness," so it could very well be a deciding factor when picking between Maryland and other teams near it on the S-curve.