The excitement that is building locally for Maryland basketball is not exactly resonating among the national experts.
While ESPN’s Andy Katz has the 2012-13 Terps among his 15 teams on the cusp of the Top 25, CBSSports.com’s Jeff Goodman does not even have them in his top 26. Worse yet, ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi predicts that Maryland won’t be among the five ACC teams making it into the field of 68 – and that’s with Florida State getting a 12th seed.
Going from being a 17-15 team that finished 6-10 in the ACC to being an NCAA tournament team is certainly not an automatic for Mark Turgeon’s team regardless of a recruiting class ranked as high as 13th in the country, but considering how competitive the Terps were until Pe’Shon Howard went down with a season-ending knee injury in early February, you have to believe the five recruits are going to help make for a quick transformation.
Given that Maryland will open the season against defending national champion Kentucky at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. – the Wildcats will likely be preseason No. 1 in many polls despite the likelihood of losing nearly their entire starting lineup – the opportunity will be there for the Terps to create some early noise.
I recall a similar scenario after Gary Williams followed a strong recruiting class in 1992-93 that included Duane Simpkins, Johnny Rhodes and Exree Hipp with one the following year led by Keith Booth of Dunbar and Joe Smith. Led by Smith, who would be national freshman of the year, Maryland upset highly ranked Georgetown in the season opener at USAir Arena and went on to make the Sweet 16.
Do you think history will repeat itself with the Terps, or do you think the man they call Joey Brackets knows what he’s talking about?