ESPN college basketball analysts Jay Bilas and Seth Greenberg believe the Maryland men’s basketball team is capable of making a run to the Final Four but caution that the Terps’ guards must shoot better for the team to reach that potential.
“I expected them to be more consistent from the perimeter shooting the ball,” Bilas said on Glenn Clark Radio Feb. 13. “But overall, [they are] one of the best teams in the country and before it’s all said and done [they] could wind up being the best team because we’re in a year where there haven’t been teams that have shown sort of overwhelming power and the ability to out-talent anybody.”
The perimeter players in Maryland’s rotation are all shooting worse than 40 percent from 3-point range heading into its game at Ohio State Feb. 23: senior Anthony Cowan Jr. (35.1 percent), junior Darryl Morsell (35.1), sophomores Aaron Wiggins (30.4) and Eric Ayala (25.6) and freshman Serrel Smith Jr. (25.0).
“I think Maryland’s perimeter players … I think they’re better shooters than they’ve shown,” Bilas said. “But at some point, you can’t keep talking about, ‘Well, they’re really good shooters,’ you’ve got to make the shots.”
The Terps are shooting 31.8 percent from 3-point range as a team, which can shrink the floor, according to Greenberg.
“The court is shrinking because they haven’t shot the ball pretty well,” Greenberg said on Glenn Clark Radio Feb. 12. “Coaches are smart. They know who can make it and who can’t make it. You don’t guard guys who are not shooting it well and all of sudden the court shrinks then it’s harder to run an efficient offense.”
Bilas would not recommend the Terps rely solely on their defense to win games in March, though they rank 20th nationally in opponent field goal percentage (38.7) and sophomore center Jalen Smith ranks 27th in blocks per game (2.27). They must be able to score, according to Bilas.
“I wouldn’t recommend not having good shooting nights and relying on defense because nobody’s defense is enough to win games by itself. You have to score. Now the question is how you score,” Bilas said.
Though the Terps have questions surrounding their shooting, both analysts believe the Terps have the talent to make a deep run in March during the NCAA Tournament. The Terps have three players who average double figures (Cowan, Smith and Wiggins) who lead them to victory more often than not.
“When you have talented players, you win more often. That’s the way it works. And when you don’t have talented players, you lose more often,” Bilas said. “They’re talented. They proved it last year and they’re proving it this year. They’re more than just Anthony Cowan. They’ve got really good players.”
Greenberg also believes the Terps have multiple players who can score big on any given night.
“I think the great thing you have is you got three different guys who can step up and you’ve got guys on any given night that can give you 20,” Greenberg said of Cowan, Smith and Wiggins. “I think the greatest thing is you’ve got different guys that can bail you out on a given night.”
Ultimately, Bilas believes the Terps are a part of a group of only a handful of teams who can win the championship in March.
“Maryland can beat anybody,” Bilas said. “They can win this thing. They’re one of the nine or 10 teams, I think they can win it.”
“They’re good enough to get to the Final Four,” Greenberg said.
A lot of the Terps’ success is due in part to the coaching of Mark Turgeon, according to Greenberg. Turgeon is 202-96 as the coach of the Terps, but this may represent his best chance yet to make a run to the Final Four.
“I look at a guy’s body of work,” Greenberg said. “Yeah, you’re playing for the tournament, but on a basis what does this tape look like? Does this team prepare, do they play hard? Do they defend? Are they competitive? Are they tough? Do they share the ball? Do they have a good team spirit? … You check the box for all those and they’ve got a top-10 program.”
For more from Bilas, listen to the full interview here:
For more from Greenberg, listen to the full interview here:
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