After beating No. 5 Wisconsin in thrilling fashion Tuesday, the Maryland Terrapins are once again perking up the ears of the college basketball community. At 23-5 overall and 11-4 in the Big Ten, the Terrapins are certainly making waves in their first season in the Big Ten, and they are looking to finish as well as they started.
The Terps let it be known from the start of the season that they were for real. Maryland started off 7-0 and were 14-1 after their fist 15 games. Along the way they beat teams like Iowa State, Oklahoma State and Michigan State while only losing to Virginia. In the process, they went from an unranked team to now No. 14 and rising in the AP Rankings. They have been as high as No.11.
Although, they hit a slight rough patch in late-January/early-February, when they lost three of five. The Terps have righted the ship and are now riding a four-game winning streak. Head Coach Mark Turgeon, who should be Big Ten Coach of the Year, has done a fantastic job of transitioning this team from the ACC to the Big Ten. He has done a great job of molding the Terps into a top-15 team.
While the Terps have a stellar record and ranking, their RPI is a less-than-impressive 35 (according to KenPom.com). So, that may affect their seeding come NCAA Tournament time. Maryland should be looking at anywhere between a three and five seed.
Depending on who they draw in their region, this is a Maryland team that may be able to do some damage in March.
The Terps have great leadership in the form of senior guard Dez Wells and junior forward Jake Layman. These two have been through the battles and bring toughness to the team. Meanwhile, freshman sensation Melo Trimble is making waves as one of the better freshmen in the entire country.
Add it all up and Maryland has the ingredients for a successful run. So, the question becomes, what is their ceiling? Is this is a team capable of a title run, or are the Terps headed for an early exit?
This is a question we tackled in this week’s Today’sU podcast, which you can listen to here.
I wouldn’t count on Maryland cutting down the nets per say, but they could conceivably go on a Sweet 16/Elite Eight-type of run. Given that they are battled-tested and tough, Maryland has the right makeup for a team that can go on a deep run.
With Trimble showing fearlessness at point, the Terps have the type of guard that March is defined by. Thus far this season, Trimble is averaging 16.1 points and 3.1 assists per game, both of which are team highs. He also leads the team in minutes played (33.5 mpg) and steals (1.4 spg) while leading the whole Big Ten in free-throw shooting with a sizzling .871 clip. Put simply, Trimble is clutch. To think he is just a freshman is mind boggling.
Of course, the Terps are not just bound by the exploits of Trimble. Wells is a grizzled vet and has been through the trenches of the ACC, and while Trimble leads in most statistical categories, Wells is the heart and soul of the Terps.
Wells is averaging a healthy 15.1 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game while connecting on a dazzling 22 of his 42 three-point attempts. He is a versatile, strong guard who can attack the basket just as well as he can drill it from deep. He’s no doubt the emotional leader of this team.
Meanwhile, Layman rounds out the great trio as he averages 13.3 points per game while leading the team in rebounding with 6.3 boards per game. Layman is hard-nosed, complementary player who does all the little things well.
In summation, the Terps have all the variables to go on an extended run with good coaching, great guard play and experience working in their favor.