Before the season started, a lot of people, including myself, had the Maryland Terrapins as a national championship contender. On paper, they have all the components needed to win it all. They had the size, length and speed to match up with any team in the country.
But the reality is, when push comes to shove, they have failed to live up to the expectations.
At every statement opportunity so far, Maryland has lost. Whether that is on the road at a No. 9 ranked North Carolina Tar Heels team in December or whether it was last Saturday on the road at the No. 11 ranked Michigan State Spartans, the team's miscues led to defeat.
So, what has been the problem?
Let's take a look.
1. The Rebounding Has Been Poor.
Maryland was exposed on Saturday against Michigan State on the glass as they were outrebounded 46-36 with 17 of the Spartans rebounds coming on the offensive boards.
Too many second chance opportunities are allowed with this Maryland team, which is inexcusable when you consider the fact that Maryland has five players in their rotation along the front court who are at least 6'9". Overall, Maryland currently ranks 226th in the country in rebounds averaging 35.7 a game.
2. Turnovers are chronic.
Maryland averages 13 turnovers a game and when you look at that, it isn't a surprise to see them have close games against teams they should be beating by double digits.
In the big games, the story has been the same. Maryland had 22 turnovers against North Carolina, 12 against Michigan, and nine against Michigan State. Of course, the results in those three games were all losses.
I don't envision Maryland getting much better in this category as they have had this problem all year. It's just not something that gets fixed overnight. Nonetheless, it is a problem that's holding this team back.
3. Maryland really misses Dion Wiley.
A lot of people seem to think that Maryland is playing at full strength, but that's inaccurate. Before the season started, sophomore shooting guard Dion Wiley tore his meniscus and is out for the 2015-16 season. His absence looms large because he is Maryland's best defender at the guard position.
He is also a very viable scoring option who could bring the ball up the floor as well. There was a lot of talk among people watching the team practice over the summer and early the fall, that Wiley was really emerging to the extent where a few thought that he might even start over Rasheed Suliamon.
Wiley's absence has forced Maryland to play Melo Trimble and Sulaimon on the court for over 30 minutes on average. Granted, walk-on Varum Ram has done an excellent job as a defender, but Ram is not an offensive player so his limitations in that regard has Maryland in a bit of a bind.
With Wiley on the floor, it would have been a huge boost to the Terps. Just take last Saturday's loss. By the second half, Sulaimon was visibly exhausted after trying to guard Denzel Valentine all night. If you have Wiley, you could at least rotate the two players a tad. Maybe that extra boost gets Maryland the win.
Is Maryland overrated from a talent standpoint? No, but they are overrated from an execution standpoint. This team just hasn't reached the point where it can put it all together. Too often, the offense looks unorganized, the team is getting beat on the boards, and turning it over inside. In the past, I have said that this team won't start really coming together until mid-February and that still seems accurate.
As of now, Maryland has only proven that it can beat teams it should beat. There's still plenty of potential on this roster and for what's ahead, but until the Terps start beating top teams, it's hard not to feel disappointed.