|Maryland hopes C Alex Len can take his game to the next level in his sophomore season. (US Presswire)|
Preview: Maryland Terrapins
Last year: 17-15, 6-10 ACC (eighth), no postseason
Coach: Mark Turgeon (second year, 17-15; 15th overall, 267-174)
Projected starters: PG Pe'Shon Howard Jr. (6.5 ppg, 3.7 apg); G Nick Faust, Soph. (8.9 ppg, 2.1 apg); F Jake Layman, Fr. (26.5 ppg, 15.0 rpg at King Phillip HS in Mass.); PF James Padgett, Sr. (8.8 ppg, 5.8 rpg); C Alex Len, Soph. (6.0 ppg, 5.4 rpg)
Top newcomers: Layman is a complete player and could step into the starting line-up at small forward right off the bat. C Shaquille Cleare and PF Charles Mitchell will provide quality depth along the front line. Cleare was regarded as the best recruit in the class, and at 6-9, 270 pounds, he is physically ready to play at this level.
Key losses: G Terrell Stoglin. Stoglin led the conference in scoring last season at 21.6 points per game. His ability to score and improvisation toward the end of the shot clock will be missed. However, his questionable shot selection at times will not.
What you need to know: Turgeon was dealing with limited numbers in his first season at the helm in College Park, but he welcomes in a highly touted freshmen class to go with some talented returning players. Still, the Terrapins are young with just two seniors. Howard, a junior, will be looked upon to provide leadership on both ends of the floor. Maryland will need its underclassmen to contribute in a big way. That starts with a step forward for sophomores Faust and Len.
Mark the calendar:
- Nov. 9 vs. Kentucky in Brooklyn, N.Y.: The Terrapins take on the defending national champions in the first game of the season in the brand new Barclays Center in Brooklyn. There will be a lot of young talent on the floor, and the Terrapins have a shot at scoring an early-season upset.
- Nov. 27 at Northwestern: Maryland's first road game comes in Evanston, Ill. in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The Terrapins are 3-1 on the road all-time in the event.
- Dec. 2 vs. George Mason in Washington, D.C.: Maryland faces George Mason for the first time since 2004. This game will certainly generate a lot of local interest.
Biggest question: Can Maryland be consistent despite its youth? With this many freshmen and sophomores in prominent roles, there are going to be ups and downs. The key will be for the team to progress and peak at the right time once conference play rolls around.
Best-case scenario: The freshmen are ready to contribute right away. Faust and Len take their games to the next level, and Howard stays healthy to give the team a steady influence at the point. Maryland finishes in the top four in the conference and earns an NCAA Tournament berth for the first time since 2010.
Worst-case scenario: The Terrapins are inconsistent because of their youth, and the freshmen are not ready to contribute on a consistent basis. Maryland finishes under .500 in ACC play and ends up in the NIT.
Reality: Maryland is moving in the right direction, but the program might be a year away from being where Turgeon and the fanbase want it. The Terrapins will be better than a year ago and will find themselves on the NCAA Tournament bubble come March.
Season opens: vs. Kentucky in Brooklyn, N.Y., Nov. 9, 8:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)
For more up-to-the-minute news and analysis from ACC bloggers Shawn Krest and Sean Bielawski, follow @CBSSportsACC.