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ACC Team Previews: Maryland

The Terps are leaving the ACC after this season, so they'd certainly like to end on a high note. They won 8 conference games a year ago, despite one of the worst turnover rates in the nation. If they can hold on to the ball this year, and keep up their efficiency elsewhere, they could certainly do it.


Last Season Record: 25-13 (8-10)
Preseason ACC Media Poll: 7th

Projected Starters:
Dez Wells, G, Junior
Nick Faust, G, Junior
Seth Allen, G, Sophomore
Evan Smotryz, F, Junior
Shaquille Cleare, C, Sophomore

Key Reserves:
Charles Mitchell, F, Sophomore
Jake Layman, F, Sophomore
Roddy Peters, G, Freshman

Marylands record last year was inflated buy one of the worst out of conference schedules in the nation. The Terps started 13-1, with their lone loss to Kentucky, but their best win coming over Stonybrook. They also did not play a true road game other than the ACC/Big Ten challenge until their 3rd ACC game, on January 13th.

Statistically, Maryland was a solid team. They scored efficiently, rebounded the ball well on both ends, and boasted on the top defenses in the nation. Their problem was turnovers. And it was a big problem. They were among the worst teams in the nation at protecting the ball, and also at forcing turnovers. The Terps turned the ball over on nearly ¼ of their possessions. That is horrendous. Then, they forced turnovers on just 15% of their defensive possessions. That is also horrendous. (Most teams are around 18-20% in both categories.)

When they didn't turn it over, they shot the ball well. With 7-footer Alex Len in the middle, they forced opponents to the perimeter, and their wings had the freedom to play pressure defense knowing that there was a shot-blocking presence behind them. Len, however, is gone. But just about everybody else returns. Faust, Wells and Allen were the most turnover-prone of the team, and also the guys who (along with Len) had the ball the most often. With Len gone, those 3 are going to dominate the ball again and will need to reduce the turnovers.

Faust is a complete player who shoots 35% from downtown, rebounds well for a perimeter player and is a tenacious defender. Wells, however, is the straw that will stir Maryland's drink. He shot 53% from the field, including 33% from behind the arc. He didn't take very many 3s, and he was among the best guards in the nation at scoring in the paint. He was Maryland's leading scorer, 2nd leading rebounder and top assist man. Allen is really the point guard, but Wells is the facilitator.

The biggest newcomer for the Terps is Michigan transfer Smotryz. He played 2 seasons at Michigan and shot the ball well from outside (44% as a sophomore) while also pulling down almost 5 rebounds per game, in just over 20 minutes per game. He struggled to stay on the floor at Michigan due to foul trouble (over 3 fouls per game in his 20 minutes), so that is a concern. But if he can stay on the floor, it'll be a big boost to a Maryland team without much frontcourt depth. If he can stay on the floor for 30+ minutes per game, he'll be one of the better players in the ACC. Another wildcard is Mitchell, who played sparingly early in the season, but gained playing time as the season went on. He boasted tremendous rebounding rates and interior scoring. He is a big, strong body who will dominate inside against smaller teams.

Maryland has enough talent to take them a long way in their final ACC season. Picking them 7th was probably a disservice by the media. Fixing the turnover problem is job #1 for head coach Mark Turgeon. Their defense may drop a bit without Len in the middle, but their offense should improve with all their major players back and a year older. They should be a tournament team, and could make some noise once they get there.