The first of two parts today placing quick conference starts in historical perspective. First up: Maryland. Later: George Mason
Maryland, you might have heard, is 4-1 in the ACC.
It hardly matters that two of those victories came against teams that were there in body if not mind. You take advantage of the breaks you receive. But given the way Maryland played those days, the Terps probably would have beaten Boston College and Miami by 10 regardless of their opponent's interest in the game.
So 4-1 is a good start. And while it hasn't happened lately, it isn't all that uncommon in College Park.
In fact, it's happened 18 times since the ACC was formed in 1953-54. Seven of those occurrences were clustered into a 10-year stretch (1994-2003), but there hadn't been another until this season.
1954: Finished 7-2 (second)
1956: Finished 7-7 (fifth)
1958: Finished 9-5 (fourth); won ACC tournament
1959: Finished 7-7 (tied for third)
1960: Finished 9-5 (third)
1973: Finished 7-5 (third); reached NCAA Elite Eight
1975: Finished 10-2 (first); reached NCAA Elite Eight
1980: Finished 11-3 (first); reached NCAA round of 16
1984: Finished 9-5 (second); won ACC tournament; reached NCAA round of 16
1985: Finished 8-6 (tied for fourth); reached NCAA round of 16
1994: Finished 8-8 (tied for fourth); reached NCAA round of 16
1995: Finished 12-4 (tied for first); reached NCAA round of 16
1997: Finished 9-7 (tied for fourth); reached NCAA first round
1999: Finished 13-3 (second); reached NCAA round of 16
2001: Finished 10-6 (third); reached NCAA Final Four
2002: Finished 15-1 (first); won NCAA championship
2003: Finished 11-5 (tied for second); reached NCAA round of 16
2010: Now 4-1 entering Sunday's game at Clemson
Two things of note:
* Maryland has never started conference play 5-0. Not sure why I'm surprised by that, but I am.
* The last 12 times Maryland started 4-1 in the conference, it reached the NCAA tournament. In all but one of those instances, the Terps reached the second weekend of the tournament.
That's some interesting stuff. And if the Terps continue to play as they have all month, it's certainly possible the correlation between a fast conference start and extended postseason stays will grow just a bit stronger come March.