Maryland college basketball power rankings preseason 2017-2018 (10-5-17)
1) Maryland – Fresh off their third straight trip to the NCAA tournament the Terps finished tied for second in the Big Ten. They do lose explosive point guard Melo Trimble to the NBA, but still retain a bunch of key role players from last year’s tournament team. Anthony Cowan, Kevin Huerter, and Justin Jackson will be the terps big three this year as the trio of sophomores will have many chances to prove themselves in a down year for the Big Ten. Going into the season I have them on the bubble of the NCAA tournament and NIT.
2) Towson – The Tigers are coming off a 20-win season that saw them finish 3rd in the CAA. They do lose a leader in forward Arnaud William Adala Moto to graduation, but look for guard Jordan McNeil and forward Mike Morsell to step up for the tigers and challenge UNC Wilmington and College of Charleston in a top heavy CAA this season.
3) UMBC- For those that have been following Maryland college hoops for a while it is a bit of a surprise to see the retrievers this high on the list, however, fresh off a trip to the collegeinsider.com postseason tournament semifinals, and one of the best record turnarounds in the country; things are in the rise in Catonsville. In year two of the Ryan Odem era UMBC sees virtually all of its production return excluding standout Will Darley who graduated, and went overseas to play in Germany. Jairus Lyles will put up crazy numbers for them, as the team will start play in a brand new arena.
4) Mount Saint Mary’s – A team that lost so much production from last year’s NCAA tournament team will have to rely heavily on Junior Robinson and Chris Wray. A repeat championship is not out of the question for coach Jamion Christian and crew as the NEC will be wide open this year.
5) Navy – Is this the year Navy can turn the corner. The mids just 6 years ago finished the year 3-26, but they have improved their win total every year with the exception of this past one falling from 19 to 16 wins. They still however managed to finish 4th in the league. They should be good enough to finish potentialy as high as second this year, but if they want to contend with Bucknell for a championship they will need consistent major production from Tom Lacey who was third in the Patriot League in rebounds per game at 7.7, and Bryce Dulin last year’s defensive player of the year.
6) Loyola – The time is now for the Greyhounds. Despite making the postseason for the first time in the GG Smith era (advancing to the quarterfinals of the CBI) the hounds still have yet to have a winning season under Smith who begins his 5th season in Baltimore this month. They do lose the winningest postseason player in program history Jarred Jones, however, with senior guard Andre Walker capturing a Patriot League 1st team selection last season, Cam Gregory establishing himself as a force on the glass, and talented sophomore and freshman classes there is real pressure for the hounds to finish above .500 this year. I do truly believe though they hounds should be in a position at the end of the year to make a return to the CBI or CIT.
7) Morgan State – The bears bring back MEAC defensive player of the year Phillip Carr and All MEAC 1st team member Tiwian Kendley to a 14-16 team from last year. It is extremely realistic to see the bears contending for some postseason bid this year which would be the first appearance for them since 2010.
8) UMES – The hawks have not won the MEAC since 1974. Losing their best player and All MEAC first teamer Bakari Copeland certainly won’t help them to break that streak. After finishing 6th in the conference last year their roster has 8 freshman and sophomores. While it will be an uphill battle for UMES; Bobby Collins in three years at the helm in Princess Anne has led them to a 27-21 record in conference play. Strong team play will be the key for them this season if they want to finish in the top half of the league.
9) Coppin State – Things did not end well for the eagles last season they lost 9 of their last twelve, got bounced in the first round of the MEAC tournament, and this year will be without last year’s starting center Chaz Brown due to transfer (to Duquesne). The expectations will be low for Coppin this year, but they do bring in local legend, and former Maryland terrapin great Juan Dixon to take over the head coaching duties. Hopefully he will be able to help improve the recruiting situation, get more fans to games, and start to turn the program around.