In preseason basketball rankings, Maryland lands in a Big Ten crowd, has “one big issue” to resolve

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The preseason projections continue to come in for Maryland men’s basketball.

Three Man Weave – the popular college basketball media brand featuring Ky McKeon, Jim Root and Matt Cox – has Maryland as the No. 26 team in the country. Three Man Weave’s Twitter account has been rolling out its top 40 countdown daily, with the Terps checking in ahead of Big Ten foes Wisconsin (No. 27), Michigan (No. 28), Indiana (No. 30) and Ohio State (No. 35). Cox is the highest on the Terps, voting them No. 22, with Root and McKeon pegging them at No. 28 and No. 36, respectively.

“Getting star guard Jahmir Young back for a 5th year was vital from a scoring and ball-handling lens, and the frontcourt duo of Donta Scott and Julian Reese is among the country’s best,” the account tweeted. (The whole thread of tweets can be found here.)

Young was Maryland’s best player last season after transferring from Charlotte. The DeMatha Catholic product averaged 15.8 points per game in his first year at Maryland and opted to return for his COVID year amid transfer portal and NIL rumors. Reese, a 6-foot-9 junior forward, has a chance to emerge into one of the Big Ten’s best bigs this year after a huge second half of the 2022-23 season. Scott, suiting up for a fifth full season as a Terp, could further improve his Maryland legacy with a great season.

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Do the pieces ‘in between’ that triumvirate have the juice to bolster Maryland this high – or even higher?” the account added. “That’s the most pressing question facing these Terps. A mix of touted frosh, intriguing transfers, and little-used returners hope to adequately fill the wing slots.”

Three Man Weave touched on those pieces in its next couple posts.

“Top 40 rookie DeShawn Harris-Smith is the most enticing of the bunch, DHS is a powerful lefty wing with great touch around the bucket,” the trio said. “His high-effort game and willingness to do the little things project as a perfect connector piece between Young and Reese/Scott.”

Jordan Geronimo never found top gear at IU, but he can guard multiple positions. Chance Stephens is a gunner – took 119 3s vs 14 2s at LMU – but is dealing w/ injury … Geronimo will battle w/ Noah Batchelor and Jahari Long plus lethal top 100 freshman Jamie Kaiser for big minutes.”

Harris-Smith and Kaiser are shaping up to be two immediate starters for the Terps. The hype surrounding the two freshmen has been well-documented. Harris-Smith should make life easier for Young in the backcourt and is a oft-rumored NBA prospect. Kaiser, who shined on Maryland’s overseas tour, continues to receive rave reviews and could change the look of Maryland’s offense with his 3-point shooting.

If Kaiser does start at the three, Geronimo will be right behind him as a bonafide sixth man. His familiarity with the Big Ten and his athleticism could make a difference. Batchelor and Long are expected to take leaps forward as second-year Terps, with the former helping Maryland’s perimeter shooting and the latter taking the reins as the backup point guard. Stephens is expected to miss the season.

The account concluded with some general observations about where the Terps stand.

“The ultimate goal will be to solve the Terps’ consistency issues – per [], Maryland ranked 357th in consistency. To wit: At home or on a neutral floor, Maryland was 18-6 against the spread. On the road, it was just 4-7 ATS (via [TeamRankings] data). Tale of 2 teams … One thing seems certain: Maryland will defend. Willard has a solid track record on that end, and the mobility of Scott and Reese allows the Terps to switch or trap ball screens without much fear of getting burned. And though unproven, the wing rotation has great physical tools … Ultimately, though, Young is the key. He was top 5 in the B1G in usage (KenPom) and can score from anywhere on the court. He may get to defer more this year, though.”

The Terps begin their season on Nov. 7 against Mount St. Mary’s at the XFINITY Center.

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