Maryland is good — both on paper and the court. With three McDonald’s All-Americans and (at least) three future NBA Draft picks, it’s safe to assume everybody understands as much. And the fact that the Terrapins won 17 of their first 20 games — while suffering zero defeats that would be considered “bad losses” — suggests they’re a title contender.
Still, their résumé, as of Thursday morning, was missing something.
And that something was a top-50 win, according to the RPI.
Sure, Maryland had beaten a Connecticut team that has topped Michigan and Texas, and a Georgetown team that has topped Xavier and Syracuse. But Connecticut is 14-6 and 63rd in the RPI, and Georgetown is 13-8 and 71st in the RPI. So the Terrapins woke up Thursday as the only school in the top 15 of the AP poll without a single top-50 RPI win.
They won’t go to bed that way, though.
Final score: No. 8 Maryland 74, No. 3 Iowa 68.
So Mark Turgeon’s team now has its signature win.
Four Terrapins finished in double-figures — among them Duke transfer Rasheed Sulaimon, who had 17 points, five assists and four rebounds. Diamond Stone added nine points.
Meanwhile, Iowa dropped to 16-4 overall and 7-1 in the Big Ten, which means the Hawkeyes are again tied with Indiana atop the league standings. Big Ten Player of the Year candidate Jarrod Uthoff entered the game averaging 18.9 points while shooting 48.7 percent from the field and 48.3 percent from 3-point range. But the senior finished 2 of 13 from the field, including 0 of 3 from 3-point range, in 35 minutes against Maryland. And his nine-point effort represented the first time all season that he has been held to single digits.
Regardless, the smart money has Iowa recovering from this, if only because its next three are against Northwestern, Penn State and Illinois. And, at this point, it wouldn’t be surprising if these two teams ended up playing each other in the Big Ten Tournament title game.