Bennet Hayes is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @HoopsTraveler on Twitter. Night Line runs on weeknights during the season, highlighting a major storyline development from that day’s games.
It’s January 5 and there is an ACC team boasting a 13-1 record, a deep, talented roster, and a likely top five pick in next June’s draft (should he elect to leave early). No, we aren’t talking about Mason Plumlee and Duke’s sizzling start. Nor are we discussing their Tobacco Road compatriots UNC and NC State – two teams that, despite uneven beginnings, have still found their share of national attention. Instead, we shift our eyes further north, to College Park, Maryland, where at the beginning of 2013 Mark Turgeon has the Terps buzzing along – and ever so quietly.
Maryland kept things rolling today with a 94-71 victory over Virginia Tech, posting its 13th consecutive victory in the process. College basketball fans likely haven’t heard a whole lot about the Maryland surge, as their opening loss to then-#3 Kentucky seemed to have removed the little buzz that surrounded the program in the preseason. But whether it’s being discussed nationally or not, make no mistake about it – behind Duke, Maryland is as likely an ACC runner-up as any team. The 13-game winning streak has not come at the expense of any sort of murderer’s row, but it includes a solid 20-point thrashing of Northwestern at Welsh-Ryan arena (I know, Trey Burke and company might tell you this is no great feat). But still, Maryland has been efficient in ripping through the fluff of their schedule, defeating opponents by an average of 19 points per game during the streak. Let’s also not forget they only fell to Kentucky in that opener by three, and I’m not so sure Kentucky would be a favorite if the two teams played again tomorrow on a neutral court.