With a record of 13-2 and their best win (from an RPI standpoint) coming at the expense of Stony Brook, the Maryland Terrapins entered Sunday night’s game at Miami in need of the win not only to move to 2-1 in the ACC but also bolster their resume.
What ensued was a game that was far from a masterpiece offensively, and some timely defensive stops and scores on the other end pushed Miami to the 54-47 win and their first 3-0 conference start as an ACC member.
The Terrapins shot 31.6% from the field and 3-of-15 from beyond the arc, with Dez Wells (18 points) and Alex Len (16 points, nine rebounds) being the only players able to get going offensively.
With Maryland, who has seen that close season-opening loss to Kentucky lose some luster due to the Wildcats’ struggles, failing to add a quality win to its currently meager resume there’s the following question: should there be concern in regards to the Terrapins’ resume and their chances of making the NCAA tournament?
There should be concern and not simply because of their own struggles. Taking a look at the Terrapins’ schedule their hopes of picking up quality wins will rely on two things: taking advantage of three games against NC State and Duke (they play Duke twice) and teams such as North Carolina and Florida State reversing their fortunes (Maryland visits FSU on January 30 and has two meetings with the Tar Heels) as the season wears on.
But the bigger issue for Mark Turgeon’s squad is the recent play of guards Nick Faust and Pe’Shon Howard. Over the last six games Faust is shooting 36.1% from the field (13-of-36) and averaging 5.8 points per game, and Howard is averaging 4.7 ppg on 28.7% shooting over that same stretch.
Howard was replaced in the starting lineup by Seth Allen against Miami and neither played particularly well (combined four points, all by Allen, on 2-of-13 shooting), and Faust shot 1-of-8 from the field.
Maryland has the talent to play their way into position to grab a bid to the NCAA tournament with Len and Wells leading the way. But if Faust and Howard don’t turn things around the Terrapins’ resume will become far more bothersome than the nuisance it currently is.