COLLEGE PARK -- Maryland has never been the nation’s No. 1 team within a regular season. They narrowly missed out on Monday, outpaced by only Villanova as they settled into the No. 2 spot.
Head coach Mark Turgeon often reiterates the fact that he does not talk about rankings with his team and rarely goes very far in-depth with the media. Monday, he went deeper than he typically does.
“I think if we got to No. 1, we’d have to talk about it because it’s different,” he said. “I think No. 2 we don’t have to.
“I’m proud of our guys because it’s February … we’ve played 24 games, and we’re No. 2 in the country and we’ve had a lot on our plate and we’ve been able to handle it, which has been good.”
No. 2 in the country includes No. 2 in the Big Ten, trailing only Iowa in the conference -- a team they beat at home late last month. It’s almost as if No. 1 isn’t all that desirable a place to be this season, with so many top-ranked teams getting knocked off.
From North Carolina to Kansas to Oklahoma, the national race is wide open. Staying out of the spotlight is almost wise.
“We were [No.] 8 two weeks ago. That shows you how volatile it is,” Turgeon said. “Usually when you’re [No.] 8, in two weeks you can’t move up that much, but there’s just so many good basketball teams out there beating everybody, so we’ll see how we handle it, but I think it keeps the pressure off.
“We’ve learned to handle No. 3, No. 4, No. 5 because we never talk about it so [No.] 2 will be no different.”
Maryland resets and refocuses starting on Tuesday with a rare Division II matchup against Bowie State in the middle of the conference season.
From there, six more regular-season Big Ten games remain.
“Where we’re ranked now, where we’re ranked last week, where we’re ranked next week, it doesn’t matter,” the always-diplomatic Rasheed Sulaimon said. “The final ranking of the year matters and we’re trying to be one of those teams competing for the best spot at the end of the year.”