Expectations vary for the 2012-2013 Maryland Terrapins men's basketball team. For those inside the program, an NCAA Tournament berth is the goal. Outside of College Park experts aren't as sure what they will see from the Terps.
Considering that variety, it comes as little surprise that Maryland was tabbed to finish 6th in the 12-team Atlantic Coast Conference. On the surface, the Terps look to be a middle-of-the-road team in the conference. But upon further look some can see the reasons for optimism coming from College Park.
The ACC experts huddled in Charlotte did make one bold proclamation: For the first time in seven seasons, neither Duke or North Carolina is the preseason pick for conference champ. That honor goes to N.C. State, a team that made the Sweet 16 last year, retained star player C.J. Leslie, and added freshman Rodney Purvis. Leslie was tabbed as the ACC preseason Player of the Year while Purvis took the conference's preseason Rookie of the Year honor.
Duke and UNC took the second and third spots in the preseason poll, followed by Miami and Florida State. Maryland landed sixth, followed in order by Virginia, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest and Boston College.
This is just the second time in the last 15 years that Duke or UNC was not picked to finish first in the conference (Wake Forest was picked to finish first in 2003).
NC State's Leslie landed on the preseason all-conference team with teammate Lorenzo Brown joining him. The preseason all-conference team was rounded out by UNC's James Michael McAdoo, Duke's Mason Plumlee, and Florida State's Michael Snaer.
No Maryland player recieved any individual recognition, but some players could challenge for those honors as the season plays out. Sophomore big man Alex Len has added bulk to his 7'0" frame, and the Maryland coaches have raved about the growth of his game. If he reaches the potential many NBA scouts suggest he has, Len could certainly land on an All-ACC team.
Two Terp freshmen could also make an impact in conference play. Jake Layman, a slashing forward with a soft shooting touch, and Shaquille Cleare, a bruising big man who plays on the interior, arrived in College Park with different levels of hype, but both have the chance to land on the conference's all-freshmen team by seasons end.