Maryland at Temple: The Terps look to avenge last year's shocking upset

Maryland at Temple: The Terps look to avenge last year's shocking upset

Maryland made a statement in a blowout win over Syracuse in Week 2. Now as Week 3 approaches, they will look to avoid the same stumbling block they tripped over last season. Maryland was shocked at home by Temple in 2018. Can they repay the Owls in Philadelphia by handing them their first loss under first-year head coach Rod Carey (12 p.m., CBSSN)?

Here are five things to know for Saturday’s game.

Maryland is ranked for the first time since 2013

As Maryland heads to Philadelphia, they will do so as the No. 21 ranked team in the nation. This marks the first time the Terps have been ranked since 2013 when the school was still a member of the ACC. Maryland earned the ranking after a 4-0 start which included a 37-0 drubbing of West Virginia.

Climbing all the way to 21 is an even rarer achievement for the Terps. You have to go all the way back to November 2006  fro the last time Maryland was ranked that high.

Maryland has the top scoring offense in the nation

Mike Locksley won the Broyles Award last season given to the nation’s top college football coaching assistant as the offensive coordinator for Alabama. Locksley was the coordinator who unleashed the Tua Tagovailoa offense that captivated the nation for much of the year. It appears that offensive prowess followed Locksley to College Park as the Terps currently boast the top scoring offense in the nation and it’s not close.

It may be a small sample size of only two games, but the Terps are averaging 71 points per game which is nine points more than No. 2 Penn State. Maryland put up 79 points against Howard, but it is easy to dismiss those results given that it came against an FCS opponent. What makes it impressive is how the Terps were able to follow up that first performance with a 63-point effort against ranked Syracuse.

The Terps lost to Temple last season

If you went through Maryland’s schedule before the season, it would be easy to gloss over the Temple game as an easy win, but not so fast. Just one year ago, the Owls came into College Park and stunned the Terps with a dominant 35-24 win.

Just like this year, Maryland was 2-0. Just like this year, one of the Terps’ two wins came against a ranked team as Maryland shocked Texas in Week 1 at FedEx Field.

The loss proved to be a costly one as the Terps finished with a record of 5-7 falling just one win shy of bowl eligibility. That should emphasize the importance of this game. The Big Ten East is brutal and, with all due respect to Temple, these are the wins Maryland has to have if they hope to reach that magic number of six wins.

Josh Jackson could be the key

In last year’s game against Temple, one of the major reasons the Terps lost was because the offense had zero pass attack.

Quarterbacks Kasim Hill and Tyrrell Pigrome combined for just eight completions on 21 attempts with 63 passing yards in a dismal effort. Maryland is a team that likes to run the ball and that’s fine, but unless you are an option team it is hard to find much success when you are limited to just 63 passing yards in a game. Overall, Maryland was held to fewer than 200 yards on offense as the Temple defense put together a completely dominant performance.

Having Jackson under center, however, gives the Terps an edge they did not have last year. The Terps may still try to run the ball down the Owls throats, but Jackson gives the team a dangerous quarterback who can open up the passing game in a way Hill and Pigrome simply could not.

It’s hard to know what to expect from Temple

You never know what exactly a team is early in the season, but that is especially true of Temple. The Owls have played only one game this season, a 56-12 win over FCS Bucknell, before getting a bye in Week 2. To make Temple even more difficult to figure out, they also have a new head coach this year in Rod Carey.

One thing that will at least be the same is quarterback Anthony Russo who made his first career start last year against Maryland. In that game, he threw for 228 passing yards and one touchdown. He was fantastic against Bucknell as he threw for 409 yards and four touchdowns.

Mac McClung has entered the NBA draft, what happens if he doesn't return to Georgetown?

Mac McClung has entered the NBA draft, what happens if he doesn't return to Georgetown?

After back-to-back stellar seasons with the Georgetown Hoyas, Mac McClung has stated his intentions to enter the 2020 NBA Draft process. 

A general consensus from draft evaluators and fans is that McClung will eventually withdraw his name from the process after the NBA Combine and come back. Declaring can be used to gain feedback from scouts and agents alike on where he is at in his playing career.

If he came back to Georgetown he could use that criticism to develop and prepare for the draft next season. It makes sense and is a system that has worked countless times to create solid NBA players.

But what if McClung doesn't withdraw his name and fully commits to the draft? It can't be ruled out given that is why he is declaring. 

That could put Georgetown in a precarious situation next season. Not only would it hurt losing such a dynamic scorer and playmaker in McClung, but once again they would be thrust into another season with potential roster concerns. 

With McClung, there are seven returning players on scholarship for next year. It is assumed Omer Yurtseven will not be returning either for a graduate season after his post on Instagram "closed a chapter" and seemed like a goodbye message to the Hoyas. That would leave six scholarship players returning. 

Not an ideal situation for Patrick Ewing as he is still looking to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time. But, that situation is manageable with two starters returning and two others that saw significant playing time. 

If McClung leaves, that means five returning players will be on next year's roster. Only three having played regular minutes. There would also be only one guard.

Relief is coming, three of the four commitments for next year are guards, all of them being three-star recruits. In this situation, at least one, potentially two of them, would have to start immediately for Georgetown. Now, freshmen start all the time in college hoops but that's a tall task for three-stars. There's also the transfer market, but no big transfer has been publically linked to the Hoyas as of this writing.

Why is this an issue? The consensus is that McClung will return next season. He's slightly undersized for either the point or shooting guard positions in the NBA. He is a 3-point shooter, but at 32% last season he isn't consistent enough to make it on his shooting alone. The best, and most enticing part, of his game is his athleticism and dunking ability.

But at the combine, things can change quickly. Jordan Bone of Tennessee (2019) and Kevin Huerter from Maryland (2018) proved that.

Both are examples of prospects that can shine in the combine and then make a sudden decision to forgo their eligibility and get drafted. McClung already has a leg up on other prospects by being well known in the scouting community from the hype surrounding him in high school. He's already had valuable conversations and connections with those involved in the evaluation. 

A good combine can make McClung an attractive prospect and if a team is telling him the right things, it may be enough to get him to leave college. That is not a reality that Georgetown could afford to face next year. 

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March Madness Revisited: George Mason lives out of their Final Four shadow in 2011

March Madness Revisited: George Mason lives out of their Final Four shadow in 2011

As March wound down without its usual flurry of March Madness moments, NBC Sports Washington took a look back at some smaller DMV schools who made a big impact during their most recent NCAA Tournament appearances.  

When one thinks of George Mason basketball, instantly they're called back to the historic Final Four team in 2006. That team's legacy hasn’t outgrown that legendary performance when the Patriots stunned everyone with one of the great Cinderella runs in tournament history.

But the 2010-11 George Mason squad had something to prove, too. Those Patriots wanted to write their own history. Hard to do when the mark was an unprecedented Final Four appearance. In 2011 they moved the Final Four to the side and gave pundits another story to tell, adding another giant of the sport to their list of downed foes.

Five years removed from the original Cinderella story, it was an entirely new team. New players, new assistant coaches and a new era of Mason basketball. But, it was recent enough to still have extra motivation for those on the roster. 

“We were kind of in those shadows of ‘Alright we don’t want to be the guys that come to college and then don’t get to the tournament,'’” former Patriots forward Mike Morrison told NBC Sports Washington. “We still communicate with [the Final Four] guys as if we’re on the same team. We know them personally. We play videogames online with each other from across the world and group chats and all that stuff. So, we were pretty tight.”

During that 2010-11 season, the Patriots, led still by coach Jim Larranaga, set records that even the Final Four team never did. A program-best 16-game winning streak propelled the team to an at-large bid. As a rehe CAA regular-season title for the second time ever. They received a higher seed, in fact - the best in the league’s history by being the No. 8 seed. George Mason sult, they won twas the first CAA team to ever be the home seed in an NCAA Tournament game. 

And unlike Selection Sunday in 2006, there was no doubt they would hear their name called. A 26-6 (16-2) record in a three-bid CAA had them prepared to continue playing. It was a matter of who, when and where, not if. 

Mason’s first opponent was Villanova, a team that the Patriots had just lost to by a point a year prior in non-conference play, a team Mason believed it could beat.

“We weren’t just happy by the seeding. We were very excited to get Villanova," Morrison said. "The year before we played them in Puerto Rico and we really felt like we should have beat them and we didn’t play our best game. There was a lot of excitement behind our matchup for sure.”

Mason’s roster was full of characters. The quiet, lead-by-example Cam Long was one of two seniors in the rotation. With him were the loud and boisterous juniors Ryan Pearson and Morrison in the frontcourt. At the point was sophomore guard Luke Hancock. They didn’t back down from a challenge. Mason was aggressive, loud, talked smack and was not afraid to tell teams they were better than them. They were battle-tested.

“We played tough games that year,” then-assistant coach Mike Huger told NBC Sports Washington. “We were in battles throughout, even in the 16-game winning streak. The CAA was very good and very competitive with us and VCU and just battling each other throughout. Old Dominion was very good as well.”

The first-round matchup played out exactly how an No. 8-9 game should. Back-and-forth, each team trading blows, answering the bell when it looked like the other had them on the ropes. 

An 8-0 spark in the final moments gave Mason brief control of the game. Up until that point, Villanova had led for most of the contest and Mason would not go away. A foul on a Corey Fisher 3-point attempt gave Villanova the lead right back with the shot clock turned off. Mason was down one, with plenty of time left for multiple possessions and then Hancock stepped back for a three.

“Luke shot it and that wasn’t the plan,” Morrision said jokingly. “Luke just did what he does.”

“Well, first it was more like ‘What are you doing?!’ He had the lane to drive to the basket and then he stops on a dime and takes a step-back three… and it was like holy smokes,” Huger said. “The shot was just such a shock. I think Villanova was in shock that everything happened the way it did. I think that kind of froze them a little bit and they weren’t able to make a play after that.”

The Patriots withstood the final 20 seconds to beat Villanova 61-57. Another blue blood to go down, joining the list of Michigan State, North Carolina, Wichita State and Connecticut from 2006. Could Patriots, with a crop of new faces, do it again? 

The three by Hancock extended Mason’s tournament but did not extend his own. Before they were set to play No. 1 seed Ohio State, Hancock came down with food poisoning. The “glue” of the team was gone and quickly shut down the wild concept that this could be another Cinderella team. 

"That changed the dynamic of the team,” Huger said. “We didn’t understand how much we would miss Luke going into that Ohio State game until it really hit us and now it’s like, ‘Oh, he’s not here.’”

The David Lighty and Jared Sullinger-led Buckeyes throttled the Patriots 98-66 in the second round. A magical run wasn’t allowed to end organically. 

As fortune would have it, that was the end of the road for a group that had so much potential. With four starters returning, running it back and perhaps having an even better season was definitely in the cards. 

But Larranaga left at season’s end to coach the Miami Hurricanes. His assistants would follow. Hancock, who had just come off his ‘One Shining Moment’ shot, transferred to Louisville, where more NCAA Tournaments would follow. 

The 'what ifs' grow bigger as time has gone on, showing how quickly life can change for mid-major programs. The Patriots haven’t made the tournament since.

“We thought we could really do something special with that group coming back, but everything changed,” Huger said. “Who knows what would have happened if we would have stayed and had another crack at it the following year with that group back. So that’s the thing that you always wonder.”

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