2016-17 At A Glance
Overall Record: 24-9
Conference: 12-6 (2nd, Big Ten)
NCAA Tournament Appearance: Yes (#6 in West)
NCAA Tournament Result: Lost to Xavier in Round 1
2017-18 Outlook & Prediction:
The Maryland Terrapins 2016-17 was better than expected. They shot the three-pointer fairly well (.380) ranked fifth in the Big Ten, but that’s to be expected when you carry three walk-on guards that played garbage minutes and didn’t score. However, expect those walk-ons: Travis Valmon, Andrew Terrell, and Kent Auslander to see more significant minutes in 2017-18. Especially Auslander, who sat out the entire season. Also, expect at least one of the walk-ons to be a key sixth man. Coach Mark Turgeon likes experience for the sixth man spot, and even if you go a complete season without playing you still have more knowledge of the playbook than a freshman. Right now, if Auslander can make an impression in camp he might snag that sixth spot.
The Terrapins lost junior guard Melo Trimble to the 2017 NBA Draft (he went undrafted), but Dion Wiley is very capable. Wiley bettered his 3P% and FT% last year compared to 2015-16, and lowered his turnovers as well. Wiley could be a key player for the Terps coming into next season. In the two games where he played significant minutes, Wiley was lights out from three; shooting 4-5 from deep against Stony Brook and a perfect 3-3 from beyond against Jacksonville State, both wins.
Forward Justin Jackson is the key to the Terps 2017-18 success. In his freshman year, the Canadian product led the team in 3P% (.438), rebounds per game (6.0), and was second in points per game (10.3). Jackson saves his best for the conference schedule, and it showed as he was instrumental against Minnesota and Ohio State, scoring (28 and 22 respectively, and playing at least 30 minutes) and a vital contributor during the mid-season seven-game win streak that began against Michigan. Expect Jackson to carry the offensive load again for the Terps as they reload for another NCAA Tournament run.
Key games to watch for: how will Maryland fare away against a Syracuse team that is out for redemption after missing the 2017 NCAA Tournament. Coach Jim Boeheim expects perfection from his players so after a Final Four appearance in 2016 followed by a 2017 NIT Tournament invite, Boeheim will have his team ready for Maryland and out for blood in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge.
Coach Turgeon and the Terps split the series against Minnesota and that late-season loss hurt Maryland’s standing in the Big Ten Tournament, since it was amidst a three-game conference losing streak. The Terps will need to better their 12-6 conference record if they expect a deep Big Ten/NCAA Tournament run. Their 7-5 record against ranked opponents will need to improve, as well as avoiding the late-season dip. Losing three straight against conference ranked opponents did the Terps no favors.
My prediction: if Turgeon’s squad can avoid a drop in form late like in 2016-17, they’ll be ranked, Big Ten champions and sitting pretty for the Tournament. The pieces are there, it’s the execution that needs work.