The Maryland Terrapins are done. Actually, they seem done by Valentine’s Day every year before wilting down the stretch. But this time, the Terps are officially done on the first day of March Madness.
Maryland lost to Wisconsin 59-54 on Thursday in the Big Ten Tournament’s second round. At 19-13, they have no chance of an NCAA Tournament bid after dancing three straight years. And when that little brother of a tournament called NIT beckons, Maryland should see the caller ID and not pick up.
There’s nothing more for this underperforming team to do but go home. They’d just lose in the first round of the NIT anyway for further embarrassment. Instead, hit the gym over the summer, hope highly-rated recruits make a difference, and convince Bruno Fernando not to turn pro and fade away like so many others needing one more year in college.
Maryland finally found some inside offensive flow against Wisconsin, and still made enough critical mistakes, including a stolen inbound pass in the final seconds, to end its season. But, the 19-13 year was already lost. Too many road defeats, too many close losses, that just a few years ago was the reverse.
It was Maryland’s worst season since 17-15 in 2014. It was the third time in seven seasons under coach Mark Turgeon of not reaching 20 wins, which is pretty weak now that teams regularly play 30-plus games. Maryland has three losing conference marks plus a 9-9 under Turgeon. Take away the weak early-season, non-conference schedule and the Terps are just an average team. For a program that has been a regular national contender since 1972, the recent malaise is unacceptable.
Of course, Turgeon is going nowhere. Not with five years left on his contract and the school’s athletic director on indefinite “leave.” Aside university president Wallace Loh, there’s nobody to make that call and Loh sure isn’t.
Maybe the NIT would be a chance to get better, but this crew has already given everything it has. Turgeon would likely play his bench and depart the NIT quickly. Who needs that?
Sometimes, it’s better to let things rest in peace.
Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter @Snide_Remarks.