Nebraska heads to College Park, Maryland on Sunday to take on the Terrapins in their first game of the New Year. We asked Ryan Conners of Testudo Times what he thought of this years team and what will happen on Sunday.
Corn Nation: Maryland had a fairly decent season last year getting to the Sweet 16. What were the expectations going into this year?
Ryan: I think the biggest thing this year is that no one knew what to make of Maryland -- and we kind of still don’t. The Terps came in with a bunch of freshman whose talents were uncertain, whereas last year they had real good talent at every position. If I had to guess, I’d say the expectation going into this season was for Maryland to be a fringe tournament team, and that hasn’t changed.
Corn Nation: This year has been good for the Terrapins so far with the only blemish being a loss to Pittsburgh. What has made this team so good and is there any belief that they should be ranked at this point in time?
Ryan: One thing that’s made Maryland so good this season is that it hasn’t faced many good opponents. Other than that, it’s been Melo Trimble and the maturation of the Terps’ three freshmen that have driven this team. Trimble averages 18 points per game, and the freshmen are three of Maryland’s next four best scorers.
Corn Nation: Diamond Stone created a lot of problems in the paint last year for a lot of teams. Who is replacing him and has there been a drop off?
Ryan: Well, Stone’s departure was good and bad. The bad is that Maryland lost a good post scorer. But Stone had his deficiencies. He was a bit raw, and needed to improve as a rebounder, defender and passer. Maryland’s improved in all those areas. Damonte Dodd and Michal Cekovsky are Stone’s “replacements,” but they’re both injured. Ivan Bender will probably start on Sunday. He’s not particularly tall (6’9), but he’s solid at finishing around the rim and plays solid defense.
Corn Nation: Who should Nebraska fans be aware of on the team? Who could cause the most problems for the Huskers?
Ryan: Melo Trimble should be the Huskers’ No. 1 concern. He can score from inside and outside, and gets to the foul line at will. Besides him, freshman forward Justin Jackson should be on everyone’s minds. He’s got a 7’3 wingspan on a 6’7 frame, and shoots 45 percent from three-point range.
Corn Nation: Where do you think Maryland will end up at the end of the season? What is the ceiling for this team?
Ryan: I think Maryland’s going to end up as an 8 or 9-seed in the NCAA Tournament, but this first few weeks of conference play will be very telling. The Terps could maybe be a top-15 team if they get everyone going and keep all their big men healthy at the same time, but who knows.
Corn Nation: Okay, prediction time. Who what will happen against the Huskers and who will win?
Ryan: I think Maryland takes it by eight points. The Terps surprised everyone (including me) with how good they were against Illinois, and I think that’ll continue.
Thanks again to Ryan for answering our questions. Hopefully Nebraska pulls off another upset on Sunday.