As the non-conference portion of the 2013-14 college basketball season nears its conclusion and conference play looms large in the New Year, the ACC has seen its share of ups and downs along an uneven early stretch. While some of its teams (Duke, Syracuse) appear to be capable of the preseason hype bestowed upon them, others have been a mixture of confounding (North Carolina), shockingly underwhelming (Boston College, Maryland) and utterly but pleasantly surprising (Florida State). The conference some were talking about being the greatest college basketball had ever witnessed hasn’t shown the depth and consistency in non-conference play to justify that acoolade, but there is still a long way to go as this new-look league embarks into ACC play. Here’s a look back at the RTC preseason ACC rankings as voted upon by the writers and how those teams have performed thus far and look to perform as the season progresses.
To review Part One of this feature, click here.
6. Maryland (8-5)
- Signature Wins: Providence, at Boston College
- Signature Losses: Connecticut, Boston University
- Reasons for Optimism: Seth Allen is back, which should take pressure off of freshman Roddy Peters. But it’s also worth noting that Peters looks like he’ll be the real deal eventually. He’s already the team’s best distributor and his ability to draw contact in the lane should make him valuable going forward. Evan Smotrycz and Jake Layman make a pair of sharpshooting forwards who are a horrible match-up for anyone. Last but not least, the Terrapins already have a conference road win under their belt.
- Reasons for Pessimism: What looked to be a great one-two punch in the frontcourt has turned into an awful start for Shaquille Cleare and nothing special from Charles Mitchell. Also, home losses to Boston University and Oregon State raise serious questions about the team’s consistency. The team often loses sight of its strengths on offense (or commits needless turnovers), which leads to scoring droughts and opponent runs.
- Forecast: The losses essentially come down to defense: When the Terrapins hold opponents below a point per possession, they’re 6-0 (not counting Tulsa or George Washington, both of which effectively scored a point per possession). But when Maryland fails to limit its opponents on offense, the team is 1-4. This team needs to finish in the top three of the standings to sniff the NCAA Tournament, but the NIT should be in the cards with a strong conference showing.