Basketball Season Preview, Part 2: The Good

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In the first half of my season preview (the Ugly), I outlined some of the biggest questions our young Terps will have to answer in order to be successful this season. Now, let’s take a look at the schedule and try to make some relatively unbiased (as if) predictions for the season to come.

Let’s break the season down into three manageable parts:

1. The No-Way-In-Hell-Could-We-Possibly-Lose Games

North Florida, Hampton/Tulsa, Lehigh, Northeastern, Morgan State, Ohio, American, Delaware, Savannah State, Holy Cross.

Total that up and you have 10 guaranteed wins. If any of these games wind up in the loss column, well you can pretty much forget the season because our RPI ranking will sink so low, that it will be extremely difficult to dredge it up to at-large status without some big ACC road victories (UNC).

2. Out-of-Conference Tests

Illinois (at home), O’Reilly Auto Parts Semifinal Game (likely UCLA), O’Reilly Auto Parts Championship/Consulation Game (either Mich St. or Missouri) , Charlotte (Away).

First of all, what the hell is the O’Reilly Auto Parts Classic? Can’t there be some sort of screening process for sponsors? I mean there are plenty of brands out there willing to shell out dollars for a sponsorship and the best they could come up with was O’Reilly Auto Parts? I actually went to the O’Reilly Auto Parts web site (yes, I am a loser) and of the four flagship schools participating in the Tournament (Maryland, Missouri, UCLA, and Michigan State), only one of them (Missouri) actually has an O’Reilly Auto Parts Store located in the state. Who are the ad wizards who came up with that one? Seriously, I think we if all threw in $100, we could rename the Tournament ourselves. How does the “John Scheyer Disturbing Facial Expressions Classic” sound? But I digress.

Back to the preview. I think that of the games listed above, Illinois at home will prove to be the easiest. That program has been hit pretty hard in recent months (you may recall Jamar Smith’s DUI related accident that injured several of his teammates). What’s more, we beat these guys on the road last year and I think that we will be able to handle them at Comcast.

While we are here, do you think it is possible to for the ACC and Big Ten to vary the matchups a little? I think that over the last 8 years, Maryland has played Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Illinois. Could a brotha get an Iowa or a Michigan as a change of pace? Sheesh!

Charlotte concerns me because it is a road game and in the middle of the ACC schedule. That is a trap game if I ever saw one, but we will be favored.

As for the “John Scheyer Face Classic” games, I think it is a stretch to assume we will win the thing. UCLA will be tough, so look for us to be playing in the consolation game. I do think we can eke out a win against either Michigan State or Missouri (Note: this is played in Kansas City, so Mizzou is basically at home should we meet them).

So what to make of this jumbled mess that is the challenging part of our non-conference schedule? Let’s say three wins and one loss. For those keeping score, that gives the Terps a 13-1 non-conference record. Historically, this is in line with most of Gary Williams’ teams. The Terps rarely make it out of the non-conference schedule unscathed, but it is just as rare thay they have more than two losses. Looking at this year’s crop of opponents, I am sticking a 13-1 stamp on it, wrapping it in a bow, and calling it day.

3. The Meat (aka ACC Schedule)

What do we know? We know UNC is the odds on favorite to win the conference. We know that Duke has John Scheyer prominently involved in their plans (this is a good thing for us, trust me). We know that UVA has a Terp killer in Singletary. As for the rest of the schools, it is exceedingly hard to predict anything. BC could suck or finish second in the conference. I feel like I could say the same about Wake, NC State, and Va Tech. I can’t imagine a world where Florida State, Clemson, and Miami are simultaneously in the upper echelons of the conference, so let’s assume its more of the same from those bottom feeders. Ga Tech is always a wild card. I never know what to expect.

So what does this all mean? Let’s try to keep things simple. At worst, the Terps will finish 6-2 at home and at best they could go undefeated. I just can’t see them losing more than two conference games at home. As for the road games, I envision somewhere between 3 and 5 wins. All told, I think the Terps will likely grab somewhere between 8 and 11 conference wins.

As much as I’d like to believe the number will be closer to 11, reality tells me that with this many underclassmen; the number will be closer to 8. I think the Terps will head into the ACC tournament with a 9-7 record, 11-5 if we get some breaks along the way.

If I were to place a weighted average on some scenarios, it would like this:

10%: 20 – 10 (7-9) NCAA bubble. Need two ACC Tournament wins to get in

20%: 21-9 (8-8) Good side of the NCAA bubble. Still need to win a game in the ACC Tourney to punch the ticket.

40%: 22-8 (9-7) Somwhere between #5 and #8 seed depending on the ACCs

20%: 23-7 (10-6) #4 seed in the Tourney

10%: 24-6 (11-5) #2 seed in the Tourney

When one throws it all together, it is easy to see that Gary has built this team for 2009 and 2010. These guys will be good this year, but if everything goes according plan; they could be cutting the nets down before the end of the decade.

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36 Comments

  1. 22-8 or 21-9 is where I see the Terps without some ACC team being a surprise or injuries to the top 3 Gist, Hayes, Vaz.

  2. Jeremy,

    A couple of points – the difference between a 10-6 vs. an 11-5 ACC record taking the Terps from a 4 seed to a 2 seed seems like too big of a jump. at 11-5, it seems we could get a 3 or a 4.

    Also, are you hedging your expectations for the ACC season? If the Terps win 6-8 at home and 3-5 on the road, then we are looking at a 9-13 win ACC schedule.

    When I’m in my happy place, 8-0 at home and 4-4 on the road seems reasonable. So I’d go with a high side estimate of 12-4, which could buy a 2 seed.

  3. Steven, you are right. I was hedging my estimates. I just can’t see a 13-3 ACC season with such a young team. The one thing that I do love about this team is that they will have no fear. Vaz’s confidence permeates throughout.

  4. There is so much young talent on this team that we could be anything. We have two talented ball handlers with a year under their belts. One of them is the next Juan. They will ensure that everybody else, no matter how inexperienced, has a chance to grow and show what they can do. Gary must be excited at hell about seeing what he’s got and figuring out how to make the most of them. This year we return to the dance. Next year we’ll be quick, used to one another, and scary.

  5. Lots of great insights and thoughts about this years team.

    Lots of talk about Gist, Vaz and Hayes. They deserve it.

    I worry about Hayes exhibiting the “toughness” to
    take it to the hole, to take the “crucial” J or three.
    Vaz seems to have all the ingredients but he’s quick but doesn’t seem to have the quick moves to shake a defender and his shooting accuracy (last year) was not noteworthy.

    It seems to me, in the absence of any other proven talent, the guy is the real catalyst for this team is Osby. His presence allows the rest of the guys to
    develop and do their thing. If Osby has indeed improved over last year he will be “the reason for the season”.

    Of course other’s on the team could make their presence known.

    I just don’t think Bambale Osby is an “unknowable”.

  6. Great article. I’m so pumped for this year’s team. They should be fun to watch. We are due for a group of over-achievers after the last couple of years. And it seems like Gary is finally getting back on the recruiting trail.

  7. Slightly off opic, and it’s just the NBA preason, but Daryll had a nice buzzer-beater last night.

    http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/recap;_ylt=ArBwS_I2LLSnOd.AYO3e4IG8vLYF?gid=2007102521

  8. Even more off-topic:

    Thank god Maryland isn’t the only team to control a game only to blow it in the last minute.

  9. D.J. shot 6-9, including 2-4 from beyond the arc. Someone’s obviously been working on their shot A LOT. Glad to see him doing well though.

  10. Did anyone else see that the Terps got exactly one vote in the ESPN/USA Today Poll? Clemson got 56 votes in the same poll.

  11. Obituary – University of Maryland Terrapin Football Team

    The University of Maryland football team’s season officially perished this afternoon in College Park, MD. The cause of death has yet to be determined, but the preliminary reports from this afternoon’s scene of the death strongly indicate lethargic, almost timid play calling from the team’s also moribund (morbidly obese) offensive coordinator. The team reportedly had numerous spasms before rigimortous set in shortly after the first quarter. Attempts to resuscitate the team were thought to have succeeded sometime in the fourth quarter, but alas, the season officially ended shortly after 7:15 EST. An autopsy is scheduled for Monday morning in Hyattsville.

    Witnesses at the scene also indicated that the team’s head coach and aforementioned offensive coordinator was seen wearing orange and black, which lead many at the scene to conclude that the great pumpkin of Charlie Brown fame is indeed real and not a myth. Onlookers fervently began to look for an insipid Christmas Tree, Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and Hanukkah Harry.

    In lieu of gifts to the deceased, the University requests that donations be made to the Adult Diabetes Fund, the Helen Keller QB for the Mute Fund, and The Stay Puffed Head Coaching Fund. The University hopes to commence a search for a new coach and football team immediately. Please send resumes to D.Y@umd.edu.

  12. Not to make excuses for conservative play-calling, but, Wheels, aren’t you overlooking the crippling string of injuries, particularly to the offensive line, that have hobbled the Terps this season?

  13. FF:

    Perhaps…consider, however, their last 4 games. In terms of yesterday, MD ran the ball 32 times for 97 net rushing yards (Turner ONLY got sacked once) and threw the ball 31 times for 217 yards. Great balance…and totally atypical for MD this year. Prior to yesterday, MD ran the ball twice as many times as they threw it. Yesterday was MD opening up their game. Think about that.

    Consider also that Heyward-Bey didn’t catch a pass or run the ball or even return a ball all game. He is the only player on that team that could start for any other team in the country, yet the coaches can’t even figure out a way to get him the ball? I think you and I could figure out ways to get him the ball, from screens to reverses to even lining him up in the backfield.

    I don’t know how they win 2 more games to become bowl eligible, which really would make this a good season considering the aforementioned injuries. Even with UNC and NC St still left to play.

    Okay everyone, sorry for the football digression. Back to hoops.

  14. Wheels: You have the advantage here. My cable company didn’t carry the game, so all I had to go on was the on-line Wash Post story. It left me wondering why Haynos got more ink than Heywood-Bey. I think you cleared up the mystery.

  15. I didn’t see the game either but how much of this passing offense took place in the 4th quarter when the game was over? Injuries to the O-line could well be the downfall of this year, pretty disappointing since the ACC & Top 25 is filled with a bunch of underwhelming teams.

  16. OT – I liked the Bosox better when they were cursed.

    Anyone remember when the Os were good?

  17. Yes. I remember when the O’s were good. 1997. It’s been ten long year.

  18. It’s too bad that Angelos and Dan Snyder don’t pay attention to other teams in their leagues. While the Sox pay for big free agents, they have built a team through their farm system. The Patriots use the draft and low cost free agents to build a dynasty. The O’s and Skins will not win championships with these clowns running them.

  19. ESPN Magazine rated every MLB team’s chance of duplicating what the Rockies did this year. The Orioles were ranked last. The quote was “Andy McPhail inherited a team in the midst of a 10-year rebuilding effort. There is no end in sight.” Awful. There is nothing to see here. Please move along.

  20. VCU on Dec. 2 is a non-conference game, too, and a test…how do you see that one coming out?

  21. Back in the day, the O’s had the best farm system anywhere. They started a long downhill march when they traded for some guy named Glenn Davis – I think they gave up Curt Shilling and Steve Finley for that dog. Ever since, it’s been hard to care (other than Cal, of course, and now he’s gone). Woe to baseball.

    ilse, You made me look at VCU. They have 7 Frosh on the their roster (Interestly, 4 of those Frosh are out of Florida. That doesn’t mean anything, but it’s just interesting recruiting for a small school in Virginia.) Anyway, there is no way a team with that many freshman can be any good! Er….just a second…..I take that back. Given the Terps tendency to play to their level of competition, it should be a fun match-up. The crystal ball says that after a close first half, UM wins by 20. Gist and Vaz have foul trouble. Milbourne leads all scorers with 30.

  22. Hell, I remember when the O’s were a dynasty, in the glory years of the two Robinsons (Frank and Brooks), Boog Powell, and a pitching staff second to none. One season they had four 20-game winners–four!

  23. A must see….

    http://sports.espn.go.com/broadband/video/videopage?videoId=3083220

  24. The Orioles also gave up Pete Harnisch in the Glenn Davis deal who wasn’t too shabby of a pitcher himself.

    No way in hell do the Terps beat VCU by 20 points. Have you seen Eric Maynor play before? He’s nasty, last year he had a 3.07 assist/turnover ratio which is practically unheard of. Watch him put a dagger in Duke here:

    I think the Terps win, I’m just saying don’t sleep on VCU. They’re athletic, they have decent size, a stellar point guard, and Anthony Grant is a crafty coach. That game is far from a gimme.

  25. Stevend: The VCU-Florida Recruiting connection is all about coach Anthony Grant. He was the #1 Assistant Coach for the Florida Gators under Billy Donovan for many years prior to taking the VCU gig. Grant is well liked and respected in many Florida HS.

    When Donovan was head coach of the Orlando Magic for 30 hours it was Grant who was heavily rumored to become the new coach of the Gators but…well, we know what happened.

  26. We’ll see what happens with VCU. True, Maynor is a very good player. They lost a lot of players, however, from the team that beat Duke in the NCAAs last year. We have some pretty good guards, too. It will be especially interesting to jusdge how much Vaz/Hayes have improved their D, or perhaps whether Bowie is ready for the college game.

    Not much mention of UM in the ACC summary, but he does pick the terps at #5.

    http://sports.yahoo.com/ncaab/news;_ylt=Aj17azMTol1E16kEtkRzmPhy07YF?slug=rivals-175510&prov=rivals&type=lgns

  27. I think Gary Parrish of cbssportsline said the terps will finish 9th or something absurdly low…behind Miami…so let’s not worry about preseason rankings…

  28. Preseason rankings are to be taken seriously. Look how right on the football experts were. ::cough:: Michigan ::cough:: Louisville ::cough:: Nebraska ::cough:: Rutgers ::cough::

  29. Did anyone watch the MD-UNC game on ESPNU? Very strange end to the game for MD. 4th and 1 from the UNC 40 with 40 seconds left and down 16-13. Turner rolls left (he’s a righty) right into the DE from UNC who had been pressuring him all game (wouldn’t you know that he pressured this throw, too), and Turner throws the ball 15 yards out of bounds. Game over.

    Maybe Ralph, as in puke, can’t win for trying and fans will complain no matter what, but doesn’t it seem strange that he didn’t run the ball to get the first down? MD isn’t known for passing the ball, and Turner isn’t known to be very good on the move. MD is known for running the ball. Hmmm. I’m all for countering tendencies, but wouldn’t it have been prudent to simply get the first down?

    On a related poor play calling note, Navy ended ND’s 4 decade long winning streak against them. Charlie Weis opted to go for it on 4th and long at the end of regulation instead of kicking a less than 40 yard field goal. He calls a pass and it’s incomplete. So…he sends a signal to kicker that he doesn’t trust him when the game is on the line, yet he essentially opts to play for overtime where you need to trust your kicker. Why not give the kid a chance to win the game?

    I don’t get it. Schools pay these guys a lot of money to make very stupid decisions.

  30. Wheels….. I could be wrong but I believe in the 3rd overtime both teams MUST go for a 2 pt conversion. Kicking a field goal is NOT an option.

    Not 100% certain but thought I heard that.

  31. Gerry, you are right, but Wheels was talking about late in regulation, BEFORE overtime. And it was a glorious victory for Navy. They deserve it.

    As for the Terps, Ralph needs to step down as play caller next season. This season has been rough and I’m sure they are a 7 win team without all the injuries, but ti doesn’t matter. The offense is stagnant and predictable no matter which QB is out there. He out thinks himself and does not play to our strengths.

    On the other hand, how many bad breaks must go our way? How many interceptions can we drop and how many spots, fumbles, etc. must go against us in one season. This is not a bad team, we are just getting what’s coming to us after last year’s unbelieveable good breaks.

  32. Everyone should read Pat Forde’s “Ultimate College Hoops Preview”. He’s a joke.

    http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/columns/story?columnist=forde_pat&id=3094969&sportCat=ncb

  33. I just read it. I hope he’s a joke. It’s hard to stomach the idea that MD BB might be “losing its grip.”

  34. Putting UM on the “losing its grip” list makes Pat Forde a giant douche! GW & crew clawed their way back into being a legit top 20 team last year after a two year hiatus. AND, they graduated 3 players after (apparantly) a six year hiatus in that category, too. Also, what’s up with putting Air Force next to the other programs on that list? Did they have like two decent years playing Wyoming, BYU and Utah? And putting GW on the list of coaches that “need a good season.” That ticks me off, too. GW is a championship coach. The only reason GW needs a good season is for his own emotional stability.

    Comcast Center will soon be due two new banners come March. It all starts tonight with a solid performance against the pesky ‘Stingers’ from Concordia U.

    BTW – I would like to highlight one absolutely correct remark from the Pat “the Giant douche” Forde:

    5. Greg Paulus, Duke: Blue Devils lost eight of their last 12 last season, including their final four. Erratic point-guard play was part of the problem.

    Paulas is over-rated! (it’s hard for me to let go of an old argument sometimes……sorry about that.)

  35. The Terps play Wed. night, unless my schedule is kerplooey. Last year this team thrived on being tagged as a collection of Rodney Dangerfields. I hope the same reverse psychology holds for this edition of the Terps.


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