The Maryland Terrapins are considered the favorites by many in the general public to not only win the Big Ten, but to also win a national championship for the second time in the last 14 years. The Terrapins have a lot to be excited about but at the same time there's a lot of work to be done. And the road to gaining a number one overall seed in the NCAA Tournament certainly won't be a walk in the park in the Big Ten.
It might be a walk in the park for Terrapins women's basketball team, but certainly not for the men. Terps head coach Mark Turgeon has a lot to work with.
Key players for the Terps in 2015-2016 season:
- Point guard: Melo Trimble, Jaylen Brantley, Varun Ram
- Shooting guard: Rasheed Sulaimon, Dion Wiley
- Small forward: Jake Layman, Jared Nickens
- Power forward: Robert Carter Jr., Michal Cekovsky
- Center: Damonte Dodd, Diamond Stone
First-five Big Ten conference games for the Terps in order:
- Home vs Penn State Nittany Lions
- Road vs Northwestern Wildcats
- Home vs Rutgers Scarlet Knights
- Road vs Wisconsin Badgers
- Road vs Michigan Wolverines
The first-three games for the Terps should be flat out wins. If this is a team that expects to contend for a title,then taking care of business early against against what is expected to be mid pack teams at best in the Big Ten this upcoming season should be no problem.
The biggest problem for the Terps during this five game stretch will be the last two games against the Badgers and against the Wolverines as both teams are in the top 25 discussion, at least in the preseason. This will be the Terps first true test in conference play in consecutive games. A lot of Maryland fans will be interested in how this team fares on the road.
During the 2014-2015 season, Maryland went 18-1 at home but only 6-4 on the road. In those four losses, Maryland lost three of them by 16 points, 19 points and 24 points. Those blowout losses were not as close as the scores indicated.
A lot of those losses had to do with the fact that the team just became too predictable during stretches. Maryland had put the ball in Trimble's hand and Dez Wells' hand which as times was very easy for opponents to tee off of. There wasn't an inside game during those important stretches which in turn made Maryland settle for a lot of jump shots. The inside game for Maryland shouldn't be a problem this year with reinforcements like Stone and Carter entering the fold.
Middle of the Big Ten conference schedule in order:
- Home vs Ohio State Buckeyes
- Home vs Northwestern Wildcats
- Road vs Michigan State Spartans
- Home vs Iowa Hawkeyes
- Road vs Ohio State Buckeyes
- Road vs Nebraska Cornhuskers
- Home vs Purdue Boilermakers
Home stretch Big Ten conference schedule in order:
- Home vs Wisconsin Badgers
- Road vs Minnesota Golden Gophers
- Home vs Michigan Wolverines
- Road vs Purdue Boilermakers
- Road vs Indiana Hoosiers
The Terps may have lucked out on this schedule in one regard as they only face the Spartans and the Hoosiers one time each as both teams will arguably be the Terps biggest competitors for the top crown of the Big Ten regular season title.
From the middle of the Big Ten schedule through the very end of it will give the Terps an opportunity to put their foot on their rivals throats and make a clear statement that what the Big Ten is used to seeing with the Spartans, Badgers and Buckeyes controlling the top of the food chain will be no more. Maryland basketball is for real and will be a problem for the rest of the Big Ten for years to come.
- Playing the Buckeyes twice in a span of five games won't be easy but both matchups are games where the Terps should take care of business comfortably.
- Going on the road to face the Cornhuskers should not be overlooked. Nebraska has a young team but their basketball program is slowly building a dark horse.
- Three out of the last five regular season games for the Terps are on the road against top 25 caliber teams in the Hoosiers, Boilermakers, and the Badgers. They also have a home game against the Wolverines which is obviously a top 25 caliber matchup as well. It's a brutal road. The final stretch of the regular season will tell a lot about how battle tested the Terps are. They would need momentum entering the Big Ten tournament.
- Maryland vs Purdue is going to be a fun battle as they play twice. The battle in the paint between Stone and Carter for the Terps going up against Caleb Swanigan and A.J. Hammons for the Boilermakers will have a Jurassic Park feel to it.
The Big Ten is loaded. The Spartans, Boilermakers, Hoosiers, Wolverines and the Badgers will a lot to say in the conversation of which team will be the top dog. But right now, the Terps are the top dog entering the season and it is up to them to keep it that way. The Terps have a lot of mature players on their roster. A lot of these talented players for the Terps have played in pressure situations against high profile talent in high profile games.
The Terps won't go undefeated, but if they play to their talent level, the rest of the country will fear a deadly turtle when March Madness roles around.