The Maryland Terrapins rode behind a stellar duo in the paint and a talented point guard to guide them through the Big Ten. As a result, the Terps are in the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time in five seasons.
From the onset of the year, the Terps had high expectations to perform with potential lottery pick Bruno Fernando returning after his phenomenal freshman campaign. Some expectations were so high that many considered head coach Mark Turgeon's job to be on the hot seat if the team did not deliver.
Fortunately for him and the program, it worked out. Not only did the Terps start the season strong, but they also won eight of their first nine Big Ten contests.
The Terps were in line for their first double-bye in the Big Ten Tournament up until the final two weeks of the season. An inexplicable loss to a 14-win Penn State is what ultimately did them in.
But, they've been successful this season, with multiple wins over ranked opponents, because they are an instant mismatch. Not many teams can match-up with 6-10 Fernando and 6-10 Jalen Smith at the same time. Both of them also have the option to kick it out to Eric Ayala (42 percent from three) and Aaron Wiggins (41 percent from three).
Needless to say the Terps are an inside-out type of team, but their Achilles heel is that they are young. Their starting lineup consists of a junior in Anthony Cowan Jr., two sophomores (Fernando and Ayala) and two freshmen (Smith and Andrew Wiggins). The next three on the depth chart? Three freshmen.
In losses, they've turned over the ball at a horrible rate. On the year they average 13 turnovers a contest.
Maryland has the talent to make a run and easily make it to the Sweet 16 in their own backyard with the East semifinals at Capital One Arena. They also only have one player in their rotation that has been here before.
We'll see how Maryland does on Thursday at 3:10 p.m. on TruTV when they play Belmont.
Maryland Terrapins 2018-19 Record:
22-10 (13-7 Big Ten)
Maryland Terrapins 2019 NCAA Tournament Seed:
No. 6, East (At-large bid)
Maryland Terrapins First Round Opponent:
No. 11 Belmont
The Path to the Final Four:
No. 11 Belmont, No. 3 LSU, No. 2 Michigan State, No. 1 Duke
Anthony Cowan Jr. (16.0 ppg, 4.3 apg - Big Ten Second Team)
Bruno Fernando (13.7 ppg, 10.4 rpg - Big Ten First, Defensive Teams)
Jalen Smith (11.4 ppg, 6.6 rpg - Big Ten Freshman Team)
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- March Madness 2019: Five upset picks to make
- Upsets to Avoid: Don't make these first-round picks
- Path to a Final Four: 5 teams with the easiest journey
- March Memories: Best Buzzer-Beaters since 2010
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