Rankings can be a silly exercise. Consider the unranked 12-1 Maryland basketball team and where the Terrapins would be if they had beaten then-No. 3 Kentucky by three points instead of losing by three in their season opener.
With that upset, Maryland probably would have moved up to somewhere between No. 12 and No. 15 and then continued to climb while others in front of it lost. Scoff if you will, but if the Kentucky upset had happened, the Terps would be undefeated and likely ranked today in the top seven -- somewhere between No. 2 Michigan (13-0) and No. 8 Ohio State (10-2).
Deserved or not, that's the way the rankings work.
"I'm glad we're not undefeated. I'm glad we're not ranked seventh or eighth," coach Mark Turgeon said. "We're not the seventh- or eighth-best team. We don't deserve to be that high."
With a team that rotates four freshmen and three sophomores, Turgeon wants to keep the Terps grounded. A high ranking and the associated national attention it would bring would make that goal more difficult.
"I feel like us not being ranked is really good for us," sophomore Dez Wells said.
Wells knows about the expectations that a high ranking can bring. Last year at Xavier, the Musketeers reached No. 8 in December but never revisited the rankings after losing five of six games following a brawl in a victory over Cincinnati.
"It's just really hard to be in a position where everybody's talking about you and to sustain that energy and that momentum and that hunger," Wells said.
- Kevin Dunleavy