By Teddy Gutkin
Record: 18-11 (7-9 in Big Ten)
Tournament Seed: 8
First Round Opponent: #9 Northwestern
Season Summary: After being upset by #11 Xavier in last year’s NCAA Tournament, the Terps lost senior Melo Trimble, who was arguably the team’s best player. Forward Justin Jackson was expected to make a huge leap and become the team’s go-to scorer, but he suffered an injury in December that sidelined him for the season. Since his injury, the Terps have gone just 10-8, including a dismal 7-9 in B1G play. They have a sliver of hope to qualify for this year’s tournament, but they’ll need an absolute miracle if they want to go dancing in March.
Players to Watch: Maryland’s strength has always been their three point shooting, and Kevin Huerter is among the best in the entire B1G. The sophomore averages 14.6 PPG, and shoots 50% from the field and 42% from deep. Fellow sophomore backcourt mate Anthony Cowan, Jr. has been Maryland’s leader on the offensive end all season long, leading the Terps in scoring (15.8 PPG) and assists (5.1 APG). Cowan is also a solid defender, averaging 1.6 steals, though his 6-0 stature could give Maryland problems if/when they face opponents with taller guards.
X-Factor: Hailing from Angola, freshman Bruno Fernando only plays 22 minutes a game, but the impact that he makes when he is on the floor is undeniable. Fernando averages 10.2 PPG on 58.6% shooting to go along with 6.6 RPG, and also averages 1.3 blocks on the defensive side of the ball. However, Fernando also struggles with his low-post defense, and his effort on the defensive side, while admirable, often lands him in foul trouble (2.9 fouls per game). That being said, Fernando is certainly a player to watch for on Maryland, and he could end up being a star his sophomore season.
Verdict: Maryland has a lot of intriguing young pieces in place to make a run in the near future at a Big Ten title, but unfortunately you don’t win games in the Big Ten by looking towards the future. The Terps could very well be a contender next season, but this year’s field is too crowded, and Mark Turgeon’s squad doesn’t have the veteran leadership or talent needed to make a deep run in New York City. Expect Maryland to be out of the field by Friday.
Thanks for reading our first preview for the Big Ten Tournament. Check back Thursday for our Indiana preview, and be sure to check the website all week long to get your fix on all things Big Ten!