How the Maryland Terrapins can get a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament

Tyler Byrum
NBC Sports Washington

Maryland men's basketball sits atop the Big Ten conference. That is not something that could be said this late into the season since the Terrapins joined the league in 2014.

As such, the team now is in a position to reach higher than just winning the league. They could jump up to a No. 1 seed-line in the NCAA Tournament, but it will take some help to get there.

Right now, Feb. 12, several bracketologists have the Big Ten-leading Terps as a No. 2 seed. Joe Lunardi has them as a No. 2 seed, so does CBS's Jerry Palm, NBC's Dave Ommen and SB Nation's Chris Dobbertean.

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But if the 20-4 (10-3) Terrapins do enough to hold on to the Big Ten regular-season title, Maryland has as good a chance as any team to jump up a line.  

Maryland is one of the few teams in the country that does not have a bad loss. All of their losses are Quadrant 1 losses according to the NET rankings. They join the likes of San Diego State, Gonzaga, Kansas, Louisville, Dayton and Auburn as the only teams in the country without any sub-Q2 defeats. With the Big Ten being arguably the best conference in the country and 11 teams projected to make the tournament, it would be difficult to have a four or five loss Big Ten champion off the top seed line. 

Palm, though, does think that Maryland needs some help to get to a No. 1 seed. 

"They've got the best chance to be a No. 1 seed out of the Big Ten," Palm told the Sports Junkies on Wednesday morning. "It depends on what other teams do and it's not up to Maryland. If they win all of their games, I think they got a really good chance to be a No. 1 seed... I think a door could open, but the margin for Maryland to get there is not real big."

Of course, this hinges on the Terrapins running the table for the rest of the season. Some of Palm's skepticism could be on a lack of faith in Maryland winning out. Five of their remaining seven games qualify as Q1 games at the moment, including two games against Michigan State.

Their schedule is unforgiving, however. If they escape unscathed, the Terrapins will have the resume of a No. 1 seed. The Big Ten offers them a schedule that none of the other elite teams can claim. 

The teams ahead of them also cannot have a loss pop up. San Diego State cannot afford a loss in the Mountain West. Gonzaga cannot afford a loss in the West Coast. Baylor and Kansas have another head-to-head that could potentially knock the Jayhawks off the No. 1 line with a loss. With the craziness of the college basketball season, someone is likely to trip up.

Maryland will likely need at least one, if not two or three of those teams to fall even if they go undefeated for the remainder of the season. That will also mean at least a berth in the Big Ten Tournament title game to take them over the edge. 

Fortunately for Maryland, other projected No. 2 seeds, Duke, Louisville and Dayton, have schedules that do not even compare to what the Terps have to go through. As long as it's not Maryland who is the one that gets tripped up (i.e. Nebraska on Tuesday night in a close win), they could find themselves as the team to fill in a potential open No. 1 seed at the end of the regular season. 

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How the Maryland Terrapins can get a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

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