Maryland is Latest Victim of Weird NCAA Tournament Trend

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(AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Andrew Doughty @DoughtyBetMGM Feb 28, 2022, 9:36 AM

“We think we’re supposed to beat everybody,” Mark Turgeon said after Maryland’s home loss to George Mason on Nov. 17. “It’s not that way. It’s too hard. We didn’t vote ourselves 20th [in the Week 2 AP Top 25].”

Turgeon was right; they didn’t vote themselves No. 20. But if the Terps did have clout in AP voting, they should’ve lobbied for No. 20 in the preseason Top 25. Or any ranking besides their actual preseason ranking, No. 21.

Maryland’s season was doomed before a home loss to George Mason on Nov. 17. 

It was doomed before Turgeon’s abrupt resignation on Dec. 3 and a home loss in Danny Manning’s coaching debut two days later. And long before the Terps lost 11 of their first 14 conference games, five of which came by at least 10 points.

Maryland’s season was doomed on Oct. 18 when they received 294 points in the AP preseason Top 25 and sat at No. 21, their third-highest preseason rank in the last 15 years. 

No, it wasn’t actually doomed; correlation doesn’t equal causation. Maryland, however, is the latest victim of a bizarre NCAA Tournament trend for teams ranked No. 21 in the preseason poll. 

Maryland interim head coach Danny Manning looks on during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Iowa, Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022, in College Park, Md. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Since the 2006-07 college basketball season, there have been 16 editions of the AP preseason Top 25. The 21st-ranked teams have had the least success reaching – and winning games in – the NCAA Tournament. 

With Maryland’s impending tourney whiff, the preseason No. 21 team has now missed the tournament in eight of the last 16 seasons, the highest rate among all preseason slots – no other slot has more than six misses. And that includes a presumed bid for Arizona in the 2020 NCAA Tournament; the Wildcats were widely projected as an 8- or 9-seed in the days prior to the cancellation of March Madness. 

2020-21Florida StateYes2
2013-14Notre DameNo0
2010-11Virginia TechNo0
2008-09Wake ForestYes0


  • Depending on preseason No. 19 North Carolina’s potential inclusion and record in the 2022 tournament, No. 21 teams might be tied with No. 19 teams for the most seasons without any tournament victories (10).
  • No. 21 is the only slot with two separate droughts of at least three years without at least one tournament win.
  • No preseason No. 21 has won more than two tournament games in the last 15 years.

Prior to the 2022 NCAA Tournament, you can view updated college basketball odds at the online sportsbook, updated NET rankings and teams with the most Quadrant 1 wins, and blind résumé comparisons for bubble teams.

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About the Author

Andrew Doughty

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Andrew Doughty is a writer for BetMGM and host of The Lion's Edge, an NFL and college football podcast available on Apple Podcasts and everywhere else.

Andrew Doughty is a writer for BetMGM and host of The Lion's Edge, an NFL and college football podcast available on Apple Podcasts and everywhere else.