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2016-2017 Maryland Basketball Preview

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After graduating four starters, can the new faces keep Maryland at the top four of the Big Ten?

Vitals

Coach: Mark Turgeon, recently extended through the 2023-2024 season

2015-2016 Record: 25-8 (13-5)

Key Departures: Jake Layman (graduation, NBA); Robert Carter Jr (NBA); Diamond Stone (NBA); Rasheed Sulaimon (graduation)

Key Additions: L.G. Gill, PF (graduate transfer); Anthony Cowan, PG; Justin Jackson, SF/PF; Kevin Huerter, SG/SF; Micah Thomas, SF; Joshua Tomaic, PF

The Lineup

Expected Starters: Melo Trimble (PG); Anthony Cowan (PG/SG); Jared Nickens (SF); L.G. Gill (PF); Damonte Dodd (C)

Key Bench Contributors: Dion Wiley (guard); Kevin Huerter (SG/SF); Justin Jackson (PF); Michael Cekovsky (PF/C); Jaylen Brantley (guard)

In reality, Dion Wiley could start at the two guard and I wouldn’t be surprised but he also hasn’t played in over a year after letting a torn meniscus heal. I am expecting that Huerter will take over Jared Nickens starting spot at some point this season but it doesn’t matter as much since both will see major minutes. Anthony Cowan is going to surprise a lot of people with his speed.

The Schedule

Non-Con

The non-conference schedule should be a cake walk for Maryland this year as the only team that will truly test them is Pittsburgh in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge and Georgetown in the return game from the Gavitt Tipoff last year. Anything worse than 11-1 is a real problem.

Big Ten

Jim Delany was kind when establishing the Maryland basketball schedule this year. We play Michigan State, Indiana, Purdue and Wisconsin only once with three of those games occurring in College Park. Strength of Schedule may come into play this year for Maryland when it comes to March so it will be imperative that they get out of those four games at no worse than .500 if they want to have a decent seed going into the tournament. As far as the rest of the schedule, I would be very surprised if Maryland did anything worse than 12-6. The team is young but Mark Turgeon stocked up on talent last offseason and they should be out and running on offense early and often.

My Thoughts

This team is very young, there is no denying that. Melo Trimble will be joined in the backcourt by freshman Anthony Cowan, who is a 5’11 PG who is more pass first than Trimble, who has been dominating the ball since joining the Terps. The SF spot will initially be filled by Jared Nickens but look for Kevin Huerter to overtake Nickens at the 3 due to his more all around game as opposed to Nickens sniper label on the outside. Huerter was a PG in HS as well so having, at times, three PGs on the floor will make the passing a fun thing to watch.

The concern this year is not the young backcourt. The front court is extremely thin on proven talent. Damonte Dodd is once again starting for Maryland at Center, joined by one of Ivan Bender, Michael Cekovsky, L.G. Gill or Justin Jackson. Ivan Bender has impressed in practice but is he ready to play in the Big Ten?

What OTE Thinks?

Despite the media being rather down on Maryland this year, the OTE "writers" are not so much. Maryland’s youth will be somewhat mitigated by a perceived weak schedule both in and out of conference along with a favorable home schedule against pre-season ranked teams in the conference. OTE Writer Prediction: 27-4 (15-3).