Few teams can lose four all-conference starters and remain ranked in the top 25. But that’s where Maryland finds themselves after being ranked No. 25 in the preseason Associated Press Poll, which was released on Monday. Maryland ended the 2015-16 ranked No. 18 after an up-and-down year ended with a trip to the Sweet 16.
The ranking shows that head coach Mark Turgeon, who signed a four-year contract extension through 2023 on Thursday, has built a reputation in his five seasons at Maryland. The Terrapins have been ranked by the Associated Press for 35 consecutive weeks.
It also shows that there is some talent left over despite the loss of Rasheed Sulaimon, Jake Layman, Diamond Stone and Robert Carter Jr. Each member of that quartet received All-Big Ten recognition last season, but the only first-team pick from last year, Melo Trimble, is back for another go-around.
Trimble enters his third straight season as Maryland’s starting point guard. The junior will have a lot on his shoulders as a young, relatively inexperienced roster gets acclimated to their new roles.
Turgeon spoke about Trimble’s ability to lead during Maryland’s media on Oct. 25.
“He's become more of a vocal leader,” Turgeon said. “You can see it in practice and when the team's together off the court. You can tell he feels like this is his team and this is his time to lead."
It won’t be long before the newcomers are tested, as Maryland will meet Georgetown in Washington, D.C. in just the second game of the season on Tuesday, Nov. 5.
The Terrapins will have a few more challenges, including Pittsburgh and Oklahoma State, prior to opening the Big Ten Conference schedule on Tuesday, Dec. 27.
Turgeon and the Terrapins will need to develop their roles by the time the calendar turns, as the Big Ten should continue to be one of the better conferences in the country.
Five Big Ten teams are ranked in the top 25, including four – Wisconsin (9), Indiana (11), Michigan State (12) and Purdue (15) – in the top 15. Ohio State and Michigan also received votes in the preseason poll.
The conference schedule is rather favorable to the Terrapins, who will only face each of the other ranked Big Ten teams once during the regular season. Maryland will get Indiana, Michigan State and Purdue at home, while the only Wisconsin matchup will be in Madison.
Turgeon believes his team has what it takes to compete in the conference.
"I really like this team,” Turgeon said at media day. “They're very coachable and have worked very hard over the last three weeks. I like the pieces. We have great versatility and a lot of athleticism. I think our fans are really going to enjoy watching this team grow."
Maryland opens the 2016-17 campaign with a home exhibition against Catawba on Saturday, Nov. 5. The first regular-season game will be at home against American on Friday, Nov. 11.