After ACC-Big Ten Challenge, a look at how Terps stack up

The Terps didn't win Wednesday vs. Virginia. But how do they look in comparison to other Big Ten teams?

Now that the ACC-Big Ten Challenge is over for 2014, how does Maryland stack up compared to its future competition?

Picked to finish in the bottom half of the Big Ten, the No. 21 Terps hung in there with No. 7 Virginia despite playing without arguably their best player in senior guard Dez Wells and a capable scorer and rebounder in senior forward Evan Smotrycz.

The outcome surprised few. You can’t say that about the rest of the Big Ten, particularly the teams picked to finish in the top quarter of the league.

Of the top four teams that have been perennial powers, only Michigan won in the event.

Overwhelming league favorite Wisconsin looked overwhelmed by Duke (a fact that should not go unnoticed by Maryland fans and one particular media member who is writing these words and wanted the Terps to play the Blue Devils).

Michigan State lost at Notre Dame against a team picked by many to finish in the middle of the Atlantic Coast Conference. The 19th-ranked Spartans look like a team struggling to find replacements for several key players from last year, particularly at point guard.

Ohio State, which I thought was overrated going into the season, looked like it was still trying to figure out a replacement for point guard Aaron Craft despite Shannon Scott’s previous hot start.

The middle of the league, including Maryland, looked pretty strong.

I think the Terps have a shot at winning their opening Big Ten game at Michigan State, especially if Wells is back and can be effective. Playing Wisconsin and Michigan just at Xfinity Center is a plus.

Based on what we saw in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, the biggest obstacle the Terps face is getting some wins out of places like Iowa (which won at North Carolina) and Nebraska (which beat a very weak Florida State team on the road).

The one thing going in Maryland’s favor is that there are not many point guards in the Big Ten who will be able to slow down Melo Trimble. He helped get Virginia in foul trouble in each half, at times by himself.

Some of those considered among the league’s top point guards had problems this week. Michigan State's Travis Trice was 3 of 13 against Notre Dame, Scott was 1 of 7 with five turnovers against Louisville.

As I’ve said many times since Maryland announced it was joining the Big Ten, this is a good year to do it. That was proven out in football, especially in the weak East Division.

Mark Turgeon’s team might be challenged by the same depth issues right now that plagued Randy Edsall’s team at times. That will change with the return of Smotrycz and Wells.

Initially, I thought the Terps would finish middle of the pack, probably around seventh.

Based on what they’ve shown this season as well as Tuesday and Wednesday, and what the rest of the league has done, that might have been a little too conservative.

Here’s my take of the Big Ten from the ACC-Big Ten Challenge:

Biggest Upset (Team): Iowa’s win at No. 12 North Carolina. The Hawkeyes seemed to be missing Roy Marble Jr. before getting to Chapel Hill. They still do, just not as much.

Biggest Upset (Individual): Former Terps forward Charles Mitchell making all three of his free throws in Georgia Tech’s home win over Northwestern. Mitchell, who shot 34 percent for Maryland last year, is 19 of 27 so far the Yellow Jackets.

Best Performance (Individual): Nebraska guard Shavon Shields. Playing in the shadow of preseason first-team player and player of the year candidate Terran Petteway, Shields had 22 points and seven rebounds vs. Florida State.

Best Performance Team: Though Iowa State brought down the Tar Heels at the Dean Dome, the most impressive showing by a Big Ten team might have been Indiana’s win over Pittsburgh at home coming on the heels of loss to Eastern Washington.

don.markus@baltsun.com

 

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