The Maryland Terrapins 2015-16 season has been filled with fans saying “Wow they’re good!” on many nights, but on other nights saying “Uh…what was that?” The Terps started the season on a great run, going 15-1 through their first 16 games, with their only loss being to a very solid North Carolina team. In their 13 games since then, they’ve gone 8-5 and have practically shot down any hopes of winning the Big Ten. Maryland’s key loss down the stretch that truly left fans scratching their heads was a 68-63 loss to a then 7-19 Minnesota team on February 19. The Terrapins have left fans all over the country, myself included, asking “How good is Maryland actually?”
DEFENSE WINS GAMES
The difference between Maryland’s defense on some nights compared to others could be one reason for their inconsistency. In Maryland’s 23 wins, they have allowed an average of 62.9 points per game, while in their 6 losses they have allowed an average of 75.6 points per game. Now you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to clearly see that when Maryland has lost this season, they have played awful on defense. When the Terps have won, their opponents have typically struggled to get much going on offense. The perfect examples of their defensive inconsistency came in their two games against Purdue this season. In early February, Maryland held the Boilermakers to a mere 61 points in an impressive win, but just this past week the two teams played again, and Purdue put up a whopping 83 points to beat the Terrapins.
STAR PLAYERS STEPPING UP
This season’s preseason #3 ranked team in the nation, the Maryland Terrapins, have easily one of the most talented teams in the nation on paper. Whether you’re looking at the crispy handles of star point guard Melo Trimble, or looking at the dominant force that freshman Diamond Stone provides at center, the Terps have an insane amounts of talent. So much talent seems to be always a good thing, but as we’ve seen, the Terps have struggled to consistently put the pieces together. These star players I’ve talked about may average 15+ points one week, but shoot 20% from the field the next week. It’s not to say the Terps don’t have the pieces to the puzzle, they most definitely do, it’s just about getting each of their pieces to mesh and fit correctly.
As I eluded to earlier, I think the Terps have one of the most talented teams in the nation and I believe they will enter the NCAA Tournament with the possibility to do a lot of damage. The Terps have struggled the most in the past few weeks, but I think head coach Mark Turgeon will have his team ready come March Madness. Yes, the Terrapins just lost a pretty tough game against Purdue, but I think they will get hot to finish their regular season, as well as the Big Ten Tournament. Many national writers have written off Maryland after seeing their recent struggles, but I actually believe they have a “next level” we haven’t seen yet. Heck, the Terps may not even know they have this “next level,” but I think they will be entering the tournament a little under-appreciated on most people’s brackets, which is crazy considering the talent they have. If they truly reach this “next level” I’ve spoken about, you’ll know… The Terps will be playing stellar defense every game and their star players will be draining more shots than my blind dates when they meet me.
My prediction is the Maryland Terrapins will make it all the way to the Sweet Sixteen, but will lose a nail-biter to end their rollercoaster of a season. Fear the Turtle? I think so.