FEB. 4 | XFINITY CENTER, COLLEGE PARK, MARYLAND
Maryland is 138-68 in six seasons under Mark Turgeon. The Terrapins went 24-9 overall and 12-6 in the Big Ten last season, tying for second place with UW. But Maryland struggled down the stretch, going 4-5 during the second half of conference play and losing its opening game in both the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments. Turgeon’s biggest challenge will be replacing point guard Melo Trimble, who left for the NBA following his junior season. Trimble started 104 consecutive games over three seasons, with Maryland winning 79 times during that span.
BIG MAN ON CAMPUS
Sophomore forward Justin Jackson (above) averaged 10.5 points and a team-leading 6.0 rebounds last season. Jackson, who considered leaving for the NBA before deciding to return, will be counted on to provide more of a scoring punch now that Trimble is gone. Jackson shot 43.8 percent from 3-point range as a freshman, including a 5-for-5 effort while scoring 28 points during a win at Minnesota. Trimble was willing and able to take shots in big moments for the past three seasons. Does that responsibility now fall on Jackson? “He’s gotten a lot better,” Turgeon said. “Hopefully, we’re going to put him in positions coming off ball screens and isolations, where not only is he making plays for himself but he’s making plays for his teammates. And I think it will be a big change from what you saw last year.”
Maryland got a lot of mileage out of its 2016 recruiting class, with guards Anthony Cowan and Kevin Huerter starting every game and Jackson starting all but three. Cowan, who averaged 10.3 points and led the Terrapins with 3.7 assists per game, will take over as lead guard after playing alongside Trimble. Huerter, who averaged 9.3 points and 4.9 rebounds per game while shooting 37.1 percent from 3-point range, does a little bit of everything. Maryland is expecting more from junior guard Dion Wiley, who averaged 3.2 points in 20 games after missing the entire 2015-16 season with a knee injury. Turgeon has plenty of big bodies at his disposal. The group includes a pair of holdovers, 7-1 senior Michal Cekovsky, 6-9 junior Ivan Bender, along with 6-9 graduate transfer Sean Obi (Duke) and 6-10 freshman Bruno Fernando.
38-16 Maryland’s record in Big Ten play since joining the conference in 2014, tied for second with Purdue during that span. The only team with a better record than the Terrapins is UW at 40-14.