1.) The Terps win 24 games this year and make the tournament
As a guy who is very much someone who prides himself on looking at things rationally, this is as optimistic as I can get with the Terps. And 24 wins is not too shabby at all considering the roster turnover, youth, and new scheme. The addition to the coaching staff will help this team tremendously and assuming Smotrycz comes back healthy, here are the losses I see the Terps having:
1.) Oklahoma State
2.) Michigan State
5.) Ohio State
Iowa and Indiana are my two swing games in which I think they can pick up wins. Maryland is fortunate in that they don’t have to play Ohio State and Wisconsin twice, and they get to face Michigan State at home. In every other game I have them favored by a slight margin, and it’s not even outlandish to say they should win 24 games. That also means they have to beat Virginia at home, which I think is feasible but is no small task for an early season matchup.
Add in the fact that anyone who knows the Terps knows they are always good for an upset or two, and it’s 24 wins, which should be a good enough resume for a conference that could send six or seven teams. Prove me right or wrong, Maryland.
2.) Maryland will be a top five team in the Big Ten
Right now I’ve got Wisconsin, Michigan State, Ohio State, Michigan, and Indiana as teams I believe are definitively better than the Terps right now. The margin between those first four and Maryland is pretty big, but Indiana is a big question mark for me despite the class they brought in and Michigan still has a lot to prove in spite of Caris LeVert, whom I believe might be the best all-around player in the Big Ten.
After that, I think when the Terps are 100%, they’ve got a step on Nebraska, Iowa, and Illinois by a hair, and are a fair amount better than the likes of Purdue and Penn State. Sheer talent and superior coaching should help them edge out the teams mentioned in this paragraph; although I have the utmost respect for Fran McCaffery and what he’s done at Iowa, Maryland has much better talent.
3.) Jared Nickens will average nearly 10 PPG this year
Nickens may not be the highest rated recruit the Terps brought in, but what I’ve seen from this kid and his development has been nothing short of amazing…
and that shot!
There are only two players I’ve seen from the 2014 class who have a better pure shot than Nickens: D’Angelo Russell and James Blackmon Jr. Nickens has a solid release, a decent ability to get his shot off and the length to do it. Remember when Jake Layman found himself open at the three-point line his freshman year a lot and was about a three-point shot away from averaging 10 a game? Nickens will have those opportunities.
The fact that Nickens will drain any shot you leave him open for will eventually force Turgeon to put him on the court quite a bit. And we should all be looking forward to that thought coming to fruition. This team should be able to score high above the pace of Turgeon’s typical teams, and if they execute it’ll be exciting to watch.