Head Coach: Mark Turgeon
2018-19 Record: 23-11, 13-7 Conference
Odds to win Title: +2500
Odds c/o Bovada
Maryland returns most of last year’ team which fell in the second-round to LSU in the NCAA tournament, losing on a last-second shot by the Tigers to bring the season to a disappointing early close. The Terrapins have not made it past the second round since 2003, but inexperience will not be why if it fall short in 2020. The Terrapins return plenty of talent, but how much of a difference will that make? NCAA basketball oddsmakers at Bovada still list Maryland as rather heavy underdogs at +2500.
Maryland suffers the loss of 2019 lottery pick Bruno Fernando. He averaged a double-double last season and made the All-Big Ten first team. Jalen Smith will have to step up. Smith averaged 11.7 points and 6.8 rebounds last year as a freshman, but filling some of the production left behind by Fernando is his responsibility. He looked great in the NCAA tournament, but he is still trying to add some muscle to his frame for the leap to the next level (potentially).
Smith is paired with Ricky Lindo Jr, who is a strong rebounder and good defender. Head coach Mark Turgeon feels he is the most improved player from last year’s returners.
Makhi and Makhel Mitchell are twins that headline the recruiting class at forward. Joshua Tomaic returns for his junior season and he appeared in 20 games last season. Chol Marial is a 7’2” center whose upside is relatively undefined at this point.
Anthony Cowan Jr. returns in the backcourt, citing “unfinished business” as his reason for not entering the NBA. He is now in his senior season and he started all three of his first years at Maryland. He led the team in scoring last year at 15.6 points per game, but he struggled in some key conference games. Turgeon said he simply “tried to do too much,” citing his shot selection as poor and pressed. Eric Ayala will add further stability to the backcourt, as a guy who makes few mistakes and takes good care of the basketball.
Sophomore Aaron Wiggins shot 41 percent from behind the arc last year, and he should look more for his shots in 2019-20. Darryl Morsell also is becoming more of a scorer after previously having been mostly just a defender. Serrel Smith Jr. also had a strong freshman season and will see a bigger role this year. Donta Scott comes in as freshman who plays a lot bigger than his listed 6’4” and should be able to play the 3-spot to slide Morsell over the power forward.
Maryland is one of the best few teams in the Big Ten, but it has its sites set at least on a Sweet 16 appearance, something it has not done since 2016. Turgeon believes this year’s depth should make for a more formidable team than the Terrapins had a few years ago, saying that his team is “going to be able to play multiple ways.” He is counting on the versatility giving his opponents problems, but Maryland is still a longer-shot at a title, given its +2500 odds in college basketball futures betting.
The backcourt is crowded for Maryland, but hopefully that ends up merely becoming a source of depth and enables the team to keep fresh bodies on the court. The loss of Fernando is big enough, but Maryland should be able to adequately replace what he did for the team, and all the more so if Chol Marial is ready sooner than later. His presence could be a game-changer if he matures quickly for the Terrapins. Maryland is a quasi-contender, but how real its chances depend largely on internal player development with its newcomers all having various flags regarding their immediate impacts.