Well, it’s not the Final Four that most would have hoped for, but Mark Turgeon and his Maryland Terrapins did make it to Madison Square Garden.
(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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By holding off the Alabama Crimson Tide, 58-57 on Tuesday night, the Terps advanced to the NIT Final Four. A consolation prize for not making the NCAA’s? Sure. If that’s how you want to view it. Still, a nice achievement for a program looking to become elite, yet again.
As I have stated many times, I thought the Turtles would make the Big Dance in 2013. Of course, I was wrong.
However, I stand strong by my prediction that Turgeon will have Maryland back amongst the best of the college basketball world.
The NIT does not have the clout that it did back in the day. There was a time when schools like Army, coached by Bob Knight, and Marquette, coached by Al McGuire, would turn down NCAA bids to play in the NIT.
That doesn’t fly in 2013.
The NCAA tournament is the end-all, be-all when it comes to college hoops success.
If you do not make the NCAA’s, especially if your school is in a high-major conference, you have failed.
And Maryland hasn’t made the NCAA tournament since 2010.
Remember when Gary Williams and his Terps would get lambasted for “only” being able to make it to the Sweet 16?
Maryland hasn’t been to the Sweet 16 in 10 years.
Things are about to change.
Even though center Alex Len is expected to leave for the NBA Draft, the Terps are anticipating the return of some high-level talent. Dez Wells and Jake Layman may have NBA futures. Shaq Cleare and Charles Mitchell are young inside forces who will only get better as their careers progress. Seth Allen, although prone to the mistake, is explosive and will improve, as well.
The newcomers for Turgeon include Michigan transfer Evan Smotrycz and incoming freshman Roddy Peters and Demonte Dodd.
Smotrycz is 6’9 a stretch-four, Dodd is a 6’9 shot-blocker and, at 6’4, Peters is a combo guard who may take over at the point.
Needless to say, the Maryland Terrapins will have high expectations for the 2013-14 campaign.
Winning the NIT would be a fine accomplishment for Mark Turgeon and his Terps.
With a probable Top-25 preseason ranking for next year looming, here’s thinking the best is yet to come, whether it’s the ACC or Big 10, in College Park.
Bob Haynie, co-host of Vinny & Haynie and Orioles Baseball Tonight, is a long-time Baltimore sports fan and sports talk host.
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