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You never count out a team coached by Gary Williams. Maryland was written off as a viable NCAA contender midway through last season; then, the Terrapins got off the canvas and went on a late-season surge that resulted in a second-round NCAA tournament appearance. Perhaps we're underestimating the Terps again. Maryland returns four starters who have shown their resilience time and time again. The tournament hopes again rest on the shoulders of senior guard Greivis Vasquez, the ACC's most indispensable player.
Greivis Vasquez led the Terps in scoring, rebounding and assists last season.
Maryland absolutely must get more tenacious on the glass. The Terps ranked last in the ACC in rebound margin a year ago and were the only ACC team to have a negative margin. Landon Milbourne enters his third season as a starter after ranking second on the team last season in points (11.4) and rebounds (5.2). If Maryland played North Carolina every week, Cliff Tucker would be a superstar. Tucker averaged 20 points per game against the Tar Heels last season but mustered only 4.5 points per game overall. Dino Gregory rebounded well enough in the ACC tournament to provide some cause for optimism. Maryland could use more height. The Terps' tallest player is 6-foot-10 Steve Goins, who played a total of 12 minutes last season. True freshmen Jordan Williams and James Padgett could help.
How much does Vasquez mean to Maryland? Consider that he led the Terps in scoring (17.5), rebounding (5.4) and assists (5.0) last season. He ranked seventh in the ACC in scoring, third in assists and third in assist-turnover ratio. The return of Adrian Bowie, Eric Hayes and Sean Mosley could allow the Terps to give Vasquez more help this season. Bowie wants to pick up where he left off after averaging 15.2 points in the ACC and NCAA tournaments. Mosley could make a big jump as a sophomore after moving into the starting lineup midway through last season. Hayes hopes to pick up where he left off after averaging 15.2 points per game in the postseason.
Maryland's split personality makes the Terps easy to disparage but impossible to overlook. The Terps won three games against teams ranked in the top 10 last season, but they also lost to Morgan State and went just 7-9 in ACC play. If the Terps beat the teams they're supposed to beat, they shouldn't have a problem earning an NCAA berth again. If they continue their pattern of inconsistency, they could find themselves on the bubble down the stretch.
Preseason rankings were compiled by basketball writers David Fox, Mike Huguenin, Jason King and Steve Megargee.