Before I make my feeble attempt to predict the Terps’ record; I’d be remiss if I didn’t make mention of something I neglected to mention in Part I of my preview. PC was right to point out in a comment made in that post that Maryland must cut down on turnovers.
This is absolutely crucial. I didn’t mention it; because it is almost too obvious to mention. It is the elephant in the room hanging over the entire season. The Terps ruined a guaranteed Tournament berth because they could not limit their careless play. Maryland must limit the number of turnovers per game to under 15 in order to have a chance to win. Preferably, they commit less than 12 per game.
The Terps will not beat an upper division ACC opponent while committing more than 15 turnovers. It won’t happen. Too many times, the Terps tallied 20 turnovers or more-and in most of those instances , Maryland lost. This year, in games they limit turnovers to 12 or less; I suspect the Terps winning percentage will be in 90%+ range.
Eric Hayes did a surprisingly good job of taking care of the rock last year. If you don’t believe me, look up his assist to turnover ratio. He actually led the team in A/T ratio with 1.9/1; although the fact that no player had a ratio better than 2/1 is an embarrassment. Great PGs should be in the 2.5/1 range or above. (UNC’s Ty Lawson was 2.4/1).
Watch the turnover situation closely in the early going. If Vasquez starts giving the ball away; Gary will move Hayes over to PG permanently.
So how do I see the season unfolding?
The Gimmies (8 wins):
Bucknell, Youngstown State, Vermont, Delaware State, American U, Bryant (huh?), Elon, Morgan State.
If the Terps lose any of these games; we are, in a word, fucked.
Old Spice Classic (1 win, 2 loss)
#7 Michigan State, Ok St/#11 Gonzaga, Opponent TBD
Look, the Terps aren’t going to win the Old Spice Classic. They will be expected to escape with a win. I’m tempted to pencil them in for two wins because I think it is guaranteed that either Gonzaga or Michigan State is overrated. I think MD will have the best athletes on the floor in both of those games.
In case you are curious, the other potential opponents for the Terps are Wichita State, Siena, Tennessee, and Georgetown. (How sweet would a win over Georgetown in the finals be? Where would that rank on a scale of 1 -10? a 15?)
Other Non-Conference Tests (3 wins)
Michigan (home), George Washington (neutral), Charlotte (home)
Michigan sucks. We beat Charlotte on the road last year, and damnit, I’m sick of losing to GW every year. They aren’t good. We should win by 15 points, and frankly, Maryland fans deserve a win in this “rivalry” that is inexplicably competitive.
So headed in to the ACC schedule, I’ve got the Terps sitting at 12-2. Seems plausible, right? Things seem to be setting up nicely for the conference schedule.
ACC Season (10 wins)
Home Wins: Georgia Tech, Viginia, Boston College, Virginia Tech, Duke, Wake Forest
Home Losses: UNC, Miami
Road Wins: Florida St, Georgia Tech, Clemson (revenge!), NC State
Road Losses: Miami, Duke, UNC, Virginia
I think the ACC is relatively weak this year. Aside from Duke and UNC, no one else scares me. Some of my predicted highlights:
-Maryland wins the Gus Gilchrist Classic vs. Va Tech.
-I can’t envision our big guys competing with Hansborough, so UNC will sweep.
-I hate Duke too much to ever concede a sweep. We get a win at home and Jon Scheyer makes a funny face during the game (who am I kidding? That’s every game).
-Miami is like kryptonite to Maryland so they get us twice.
-Clemson will get beat simply because the Terps have it circled on the schedule, and the entire fan base needs a catharsis.
-We can’t beat UVA on the road. I don’t know why.
-BC, NC State, and Ga Tech suck.
According to my count, the Terps will finish the season 22-8 (10-6) in the regular season. That’s good enough for a #3 seed in the conference and a #5 seed in the Big Dance. Yes, in perhaps his greatest coaching job ever, Gary Williams gets it done and proves the doubters wrong.
I’m Jeremy Gold and I approved this message.